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  • Writer's pictureJames Davies

Andropause - myth or reality?

Claire and James Davies - the Midlife Mentors
Claire and James Davies - the Midlife Mentors

Over the last few years there’s been a surge of interest and initiatives around the female peri-

menopause and menopause, which is to be applauded. Celebrities including Meg Matthews (check our Midlife Mentors podcast for an interview with her) and Mariella Frostrup have penned guides and we’ve delivered several corporate workshops on menopause, so it’s great that this is finally getting coverage.

Less well know is the andropause, (sometimes incorrectly referred to as the male menopause).

Estimates vary, but somewhere between 25% to 40% of middle aged men will experience symptoms, with around 10% having acute symptoms.

In fact if we look at the hormonal science of what’s happening inside the body it’s highly likely that

most men will experience some of the symptoms at some point during their midlife.

So what are those symptoms? They can be broadly categorised into physical, mental and

emotional, and of course all these interplay and have a causation relationship.

On the physical side symptoms can include a decline in energy, gradual loss of strength, loss of

muscle mass, increase body fat, particularly in the abdominal area, erectile dysfunction and loss of


Mental and emotional symptoms can include brain fog, lack of concentration, lowered confidence,

increased anxiety, increased stress and trouble sleeping.

Put the physical, mental and emotional together and you have the perfect driver for more

psychological symptoms: a perceived lack of self-worth, loss of self-identity, and over

compensating behaviour.

This is why performance across the board can start to suffer… in relationships, business, career,


So far so 'midlife crisis' you might say, but we shouldn’t dismiss these symptoms so casually.

especially when they can have a devastating effect on the individual that can cascade into

relationships and career. There are in fact a number of lifestyle adjustments we can make to work

with these changes we’re experiencing.

Science shows us it’s possible to work in harmony with our hormones (the main driver for many of

these symptoms) and offset many of the negative effects.

To understand what you can do you first need to understand what’s going on hormonally and how

that’s impacting the individual.

For men levels of their primary sex hormone testosterone peak in their twenties, then decline at

between 1 to 2% a year. Now, that might not sound a lot, but the time a man hits his fifties, those

testosterone levels could be up to 50% lower than back when he was in his twenties.

Testosterone plays a key role in supporting muscle, metabolic support, strength, libido, cognitive

processes and focus.

As it declines, so these can too. Low levels of testosterone are also liked to increased anxiety,

lowered confidence and increased body fat levels.

If that wasn’t enough, at midlife we’re becoming more insulin resistant, meaning we’re less efficient

at processing food for energy, meaning we’re more likely to lay excess calories down as fat

Finally, throw some stress into the mix. We all know stress impacts our health, but did you know

why it has such an impact on our hormonal health?

The stress hormone cortisol is produces from the same “mother” hormone pregnenolone so if we

are producing more cortisol, there is less pregnenolone available to produce testosterone, further

impacting those midlife hormonal challenges.

So far so bad, but what can we do about it?

Well quite a lot is the good news!

If you want to perform at your full potential at midlife there are a number of specific things to do ,

right, but here is what it comes down to in my experience: you've got to align your body and mind.

They have to work together.

What we see over and over are people thrashing their bodies but they’re ignoring their psychology,

so their efforts only work in the short term and they certainly don’t reach their full potential. Here’s

what you need to do, and remember, this isn’t about huge changes or big sacrifices, it’s about

making adjustments that ultimately improve your quality of life.

Firstly, you need to start exercising in the right way. Specifically start intruding short High Intensity

Interval Training sessions of 15 to 20 minutes to your workouts. These are not only time and

results effective but have been shown to help boost testosterone levels temporarily and bring down

your metabolic age.

You need to start resistance training. You can do it at home, but for men, lifting heavy with

compound moves like the squat, bench press and row also temporarily boost testosterone levels,

as well as building new muscle mass, so raising metabolic rate.

You have to start cutting down on sugar, which is highly calorific and inflammatory, and start adding

more lean protein (fish, poultry, lean red meat, pulses) to your diet, along with dietary fibre for gut

health. You need to start eating more leafy vegetables and cut back on heavier processed carbs

like bread, rices, cakes and pasta.

On the mindset side, you MUST get a handle on your stress and lower those cortisol levels. Start

to eliminate the stressors you can in your life (like watching too much news), learn to control your

reaction to stressful events.

Look at your limiting beliefs - we all have them. What beliefs about yourself could be holding you

back? What new empowering beliefs would help you sustain a new healthier peak performance


You cannot out perform your self-identity - sometimes we need to upgrade who we are to

move to the next level. Neuroscience shows us this is possible. Our beliefs are not fixed - we can

alter our neural pathways and literally step into a new way of being.

Learn to be present, cultivate and attitude of gratitude each day, and ground yourself with focus at

the start of each day.

Finally, supplementation may help. Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) is an option, but

there are pros and cons and it’s for the long term (your own testosterone production will shut

down), so it’s better to look at the lifestyle adjustments you can make first and keep TRT as a final


So, make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D in particular, and supplement with vitamin D3 if

you’re not. Other nutrients that support sex hormone pathways include vitamin C, zinc and magnesium. You can take a herbal adaptogen called ashwaghanda to reduce cortisol (and so help

sex hormone balance), and vitamin B12 will also help as well as helping with energy levels.

Put all these elements together and you can stride forward through andriopause (and beyond) with

renewed strength, energy, power, confidence and joy for life.

If you’d like to get a personalised report on where your midlife blocks might be, and get actionable

tips on improvements you can make, then take our world’s first Midlife Reset Audit. This short

questionnaire will give you a midlife diagnostic and it’s completely free:

This article was written by James Davies, podcast host of the Midlife Mentors and CEO of 38 Degrees North. Listen to the TWC podcast chatting about andropause featuring husband and wife team, James and Claire here.

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