Is MANopause a thing?
Does male menopause really exist? Find out how low testosterone can affect you as you get older.
For anyone with ovaries, menopause is inevitable. Yet, many believe it’s only women who experience hormonal changes as they age, which isn’t true. Men’s testosterone levels usually decrease over time, but this is much more gradual compared to the abrupt decline in female hormone production.
In this article, we look at:
- What is manopause?
- When is manopause a problem?
- What are the symptoms of manopause?
- How is manopause diagnosed?
- Can I boost my testosterone levels naturally?
- Am I going through manopause?
What is manopause?
As men age, their testosterone levels tend to decline — this is a normal process. It’s sometimes referred to as manopause or andropause, but these terms are misleading since it’s a very different process from menopause in women. In most men, male hormone levels decline very gradually and tend not to cause symptoms.
Some sources state that testosterone levels begin to drop in the 30s with an average decline of 1% per year (1). Other data show that this decline may be slower than we think, starting in the early 20s, but almost plateauing by the late 30s (2,3).
If you’re someone that likes to know the ins and outs, it gets a little more complicated than this. There are two forms of testosterone in the bloodstream — total and free testosterone. The studies above look at total testosterone, not free testosterone, which declines more quickly. That’s because free testosterone binds to the protein sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), which also increases with age (4). We should also bear in mind that most studies only include healthy men, which may make the decline appear less obvious.
Find out more about how testosterone levels change with age.
When is manopause a problem?
In some men, falling testosterone levels may give rise to symptoms as they age.
When the testes fail to make enough testosterone, it’s called hypogonadism. This typically occurs in later life (late-onset hypogonadism) but may affect younger men too. People who are obese or have type 2 diabetes are at higher risk. Unfortunately, hypogonadism in men can be easily overlooked as the symptoms are often put down to age.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of low testosterone, it’s worth checking your testosterone levels to be sure.
What are the symptoms of manopause?
Some men develop symptoms as they reach their late 40s or 50s, such as low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, or low mood. While these symptoms may be down to low testosterone, they’re more likely to be due to other causes. For example, erectile dysfunction is often caused by stress, tiredness, anxiety, or drinking alcohol.
Other symptoms that may be due to low testosterone include:
- Change in body shape, including loss of muscle mass and increased body fat
- Man boobs (gynaecomastia)
- Small or shrinking testes
- Fatigue or lack of enthusiasm
- Poor concentration and short-term memory
If you have multiple symptoms or think you may have testosterone deficiency, it’s best to speak to your GP, especially if your symptoms are interfering with your everyday life. You can also check your testosterone levels with a Testosterone Blood Test from home.
Read more about the symptoms of low testosterone.
How is manopause diagnosed?
As manopause is not a medical condition, it’s not something that is formally diagnosed. However, your doctor may diagnose you with hypogonadism if your testosterone levels are abnormally low and you’re symptomatic.
If you’re taking a blood test to investigate your testosterone levels, you should take it before 10 am when levels are highest. If your result is low, your doctor may recommend further tests, such as a free testosterone blood test with or without other hormones such as luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
If you take a Testosterone Blood Test with Medichecks, our doctors will advise you on any next steps.
Can I boost my testosterone levels naturally?
There are ways you can naturally boost your testosterone levels if they’re low or borderline. The following measures can have a positive impact on testosterone:
- Get sufficient sleep — seven to nine hours per night is ideal
- Eat a nutritious and balanced diet
- Avoid alcohol
- Exercise — strength training is particularly effective
- Minimise stress
- Make sure you’re getting adequate vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc
- Lose weight if you’re overweight
Read more about how you can boost your testosterone levels naturally.
If your testosterone levels remain low after lifestyle changes and you have associated symptoms, your doctor may consider offering you a trial of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). TRT is a synthetic form of testosterone administered as a gel, injection, or patch.
Am I going through manopause?
If you’ve noticed any of the symptoms above, before putting them down to age, it may be worth getting a blood test to make sure your testosterone levels are normal. This is especially true if you’re overweight or have type 2 diabetes.
Or, for a more comprehensive check, try our Advanced Well Man Blood Test. As well as testosterone, this test assesses liver and kidney health, cholesterol status, and diabetes. It’s a great way to check in on your health.
- The ‘male menopause’ [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2018 [cited 2022 Dec 19]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/male-menopause/
- Age-specific population centiles for androgen status in men in: European Journal of Endocrinology Volume 173 Issue 6 (2015) [Internet]. [cited 2022 Dec 19]. Available from: https://eje.bioscientifica.com/view/journals/eje/173/6/809.xml
- Kelsey TW, Li LQ, Mitchell RT, Whelan A, Anderson RA, Wallace WHB. A Validated Age-Related Normative Model for Male Total Testosterone Shows Increasing Variance but No Decline after Age 40 Years. PLOS ONE. 2014 Oct 8;9(10):e109346.
- Stanworth RD, Jones TH. Testosterone for the aging male; current evidence and recommended practice. Clin Interv Aging. 2008 Mar;3(1):25–44.
TRT (Testosterone Replacement Therapy) Blood Test
Monitor and manage your testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) treatment by testing for hormones in your blood...
Advanced TRT (Testosterone Replacement Therapy) Blood Test
Get an advanced check for your hormones, liver and kidney function, blood health and prostate if you are taking or considering testosterone replacement therapy (TRT)...