Understanding andropause

10 July 2023

Understanding andropause

Nutritionist Anjanette Fraser talks about andropause, the male menopause, the symptoms, implications and how you can take control.

Video transcript

Hello, I'm Anjanette and I'm a registered nutritionist and I'm going to be talking to you about andropause.

What is andropause?

Well, andropause is the name for the male menopause.

Does it exist? Yes, it does. Yes, it does, absolutely.

And it's quite different to that of menopause because menopause is what women experience when their hormones change and very much are a rollercoaster. So, it can be high and low, even varying at different times of the day.

But for men it is also their hormones, but there is a much more gradual reduction in their hormones. And here we're talking about testosterone.

So, we start to notice for men, on average it can be from the age of about 30 and slowly it's estimated to be anywhere between 0.4 to 2% reduction in testosterone each year. But of course, that is cumulative. So, it does add up.

What are the symptoms?

If you are thinking, can this be me? Can I be experiencing the male menopause? Why indeed you might.

So, the sort of symptoms that men experience is a change in their body composition. So, they start to store more fat around, particularly abdominal, the sort of tummy area. They may find that they've got a reduction in their muscle mass, so it's harder to maintain that certain level of muscle. But again, that's for women and for men as we get older.

You also might notice a change in their mental health, perhaps reduction in motivation, and things like weight gain as well.

So, the symptoms unfortunately are very vague and can of course be symptoms of other health areas as well. So as always, we recommend that you go to your doctor, ask the question, any symptoms you may be experiencing, could these be due to andropause and ask for a blood test for your testosterone level. And that should give an indication in indeed if you do have slightly lower testosterone levels.

What happens if you don't do anything about it?

Maybe, you know, you have these symptoms, but you can manage them, and you are okay with it. Is that a cause for concern? Should you actually ask your doctor for a check-up? And, I would say yes, you should. For many of us, when we get to midlife, it is an opportunity to say, actually how am I? What is my health like at the moment?

And indeed, as well as asking for a blood test for your testosterone, also ask for things like your blood pressure to be checked and also for a blood test for your cholesterol and your blood glucose level. Because we know for all of us as we age, that the risk of certain health conditions like cardiovascular related diseases are increased.

So, ask for these simple blood tests from your doctor. And again, testosterone is one of those that yes, you should ask for.

You may also want to ask for a Prostate-Specific Antigen or PSA blood test. And that can perhaps provide some information in terms of your prostate health as well, which as we know is exceptionally common to have prostate related conditions for men as they age.

But unfortunately, many men do not know about it, don't know what to do about it, what are the symptoms, et cetera. So again, I would encourage you to have that appointment with your doctor and get those blood tests.

So, a reminder, the blood tests we're thinking about here are your blood glucose, just to check for things like diabetes, your cholesterol, that's a blood test. Also get a blood test for your testosterone and also one for PSA, Prostate-Specific Antigen, just to figure out indeed if there's any issues going on with your prostate.

What are the implications of low testosterone levels?

So, if you have any problems with your testosterone, perhaps your testosterone levels are a little bit low, is that a cause for concern? What implications might that have?

Well, it could have implications for things like your muscle mass. So if you are struggling to maintain your muscle mass, it means you've got less of it, which means that it's harder to keep a healthy weight, because the more muscle you have, it's using more calories in the day, and therefore you are more likely perhaps to increase your fat mass. You are more likely to put on more fat. Which of course increases the risk of other different health conditions like diabetes type two and also could increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

So, there are implications, please, let's just take the opportunity to have those tests with your doctor and see where you are in terms of your health status.

Any other things to think about?

Your doctor may prescribe some testosterone treatments. It comes in various different formats. Speak to them about which is the right type for you. And this is something perhaps check in every three months or six months with your doctor to see that they are happy with your progress. Maybe do a follow-up blood test as well.

But there are fortunately opportunities for men, as there are for women, when it comes to menopause.

Just to take an interest in your health and say, what can I do to improve my health and also reduce the risk of further health complications?