Don’t laugh – it’s a thing. Men can go through hormonal fluctuations in their 40’s (or so) in exactly the same way women can. Although sometimes it’s a little unfairly called a ‘midlife crisis’ for the fellas!

So, what happens in male menopause?

The male menopause happens in the early 40’s and begins as testosterone levels begin to deplete.

‘Most men’s testosterone levels peak in adolescence and early adulthood. After age 30 or 40, those levels tend to decline by about 1 percent per year. By age 70, your testosterone level might reach closer to 50 percent of your peak level. This hormonal shift can cause physical, emotional, and cognitive changes.’

And what are you looking out for as an indication of this depletion? Much like women may experience as their hormone production decreases, some of the early signs in men may include;

  • irritability or mood swings
  • loss of muscle mass and finding exercise more difficult
  • change in fat distribution; developing a ‘beer belly’ or ‘man boobs’
  • a general lack of enthusiasm or energy
  • difficulty sleeping and/or general tiredness in the day
  • difficulty concentrating
  • short-term memory issues.

None of these symptoms are anything to be overly concerned about as they are short term and can often be relieved with lifestyle changes or with help from your GP. However, going through the menopause, whether male or female can be a difficult time, causing unhappiness and tension, so it’s important to be aware of the causes and take action where you can.

Best exercise to combat hormone depletion

Having a good level of general fitness is essential for health and wellness. Many of the symptoms of menopause (and menopause), can be exacerbated by poor fitness with high blood pressure and poor cardio vascular function also closely related to low energy and enthusiasm, and poor concentration. Taking part in a regular exercise routine will increase muscle mass, strengthen bones and keep weight gain in check, all of which reduces your risk of osteoporosis, cancers, diabetes and depression.

As for the direct effect on your hormones, exercise will not noticeably boost your testosterone, oestrogen or progesterone, but it will help the production of hormones that counter all those pesky symptoms;

The stress hormones: Cortisol and adrenalin, and other chemicals released in the brain called endorphins, are all produced at the time of exercise. All these chemicals are immediately produced either during or shortly after exercise and give the ‘push’ to get you through and the satisfying ‘high’ once you’re done. The danger of raising cortisol too high through such exercise as sprints and heavy lifting is that it is also responsible for clinging onto fat in the body. That’s why we recommend low impact and cardio exercise during the menopause. If you have difficulty sleeping it might be wise to take part in this type of exercise at least 5 hours before sleep to ensure the effects have worn off!

The happy hormones: Melatonin, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin are what I like to call the ‘happy’ hormones. These are produced with a delayed effect after exercising and can still be in the body between 12 and 24 hours later. Melatonin makes you sleepy, dopamine and serotonin can boost mood, memory and other cognitive functions, whilst oxytocin (sometimes called the ‘love’ hormone), boosts trust, empathy and bonding in relationships – essential if you’re both around the same age and blaming the hormones for getting on each other’s nerves!

NB: A kiss and a cuddle boosts oxytocin best!

Whilst low impact and happy hormone inducing exercise is highly recommended, the best exercise to take as you begin to notice hormonal changes is really whatever works for you and makes you happy! Yoga, gentle Pilates, meditation, walking, cycling, gentle swimming in the morning will all help that happy hormone boost close to bed-time, whilst higher impact cardio and muscle strengthening exercise later in the day such as jogging, weight lifting, boxing, HIIT etc will give you that injection of self-satisfaction and the feel good factor.

Go outside and walk!

All that aside, I would strongly recommend walking everyday; getting your steps up to around 10,000 a day is an NHS recommended number to combat all manner of wellness and health issues, plus no matter what time of year it is try to do them outdoors to get that essential fresh air and vitamin D.

More about vitamin D and melatonin

Vitamin D if you don’t already know, often referred to as the ‘sunshine’ vitamin, is produced much quicker in daylight, whereas melatonin is stimulated (other than by gentle exercise) through darkness. Working together in perfect harmony these two chemicals should balance your sleep and wake cycles. Late nights in front of blue light such as TV or other screens and artificial light sources may get you out of whack, as well as staying indoors, especially during winter when the daylight levels are naturally lower anyway.

Both Vitamin D and melatonin are available as supplements and if you feel that you cannot manage the wake/sleep cycle naturally please speak to your GP before putting yourself on medication.

The good news is, menopause and manopause shouldn’t last much longer than puberty and your hormones should be settled after 4-5 years or so. In the meantime, get outside, find a new class to take and get those cuddles in where you can!

Take a look at the classes on offer with Ad Astra Yoga and Pilates, all prices and packages are up to date and all classes are currently online via Zoom, until such time as we can safely return to face to face classes in Carterton, West Oxfordshire.