Understanding the Male Menopause and Mental Health
What is the male menopause?
The male menopause is the name given to an age-related change in the hormone levels of men. There are several factors which could cause a person to enter this stage of their life.
Some of the most common include:
- Testosterone deficiency
- Increasing SHBG levels
- Reduced pituitary function
- Reduced production of testosterone by the testicles
- Increasing insulin resistance/onset of diabetes
In all of these cases, it’s the dramatic reduction in the amount of testosterone the body produces which causes the menopause to kick in. While these factors won’t affect everyone as they age, it can have a huge impact on individuals who do see a dip in production.
It’s very common for a man’s testosterone levels to decrease by as much as 1% every year after the age of 40.
Reduction of testosterone and mental health
Owing to the importance of testosterone’s role in your brain, there’ll be very direct and noticeable changes to your general attitude. While this won’t always be negative, there are circumstances and symptoms which can lower your mood:
- Memory loss
As you age, your cognitive function begins to decrease. This is what triggers memory loss in most older people. Some studies have recently linked this dip in memory retention to lowered levels of testosterone.
- Concentration levels
It’s not that you’ll necessarily find yourself distracted more often, but rather just struggle to follow the flow of a normal conversation. Being distracted is natural, but if you’re finding it a struggle to keep up in one-on-one chats, you may want to get assessed.
- Sex drive
The libido is one of the key areas of the mind which is affected by a loss of T-levels. While it won’t necessarily be as a result of problems maintaining an erection, this can also be a factor.
You might begin to feel like a different person if you’re experiencing the male menopause. Remember, if you’re ever having dark thoughts it’s important to talk about it with someone you trust.
The indirect effect of male menopause on your mental health
Sometimes the fallout from other issues someone experiences during the male menopause will cause them to have further problems in the future. These secondary, indirect, conditions can be just as damaging as those which are caused as a direct medical result of your situation:
Having poor mental health makes it considerably tougher to sleep. Whether it’s because of negative thoughts keeping your brain overly active, or a general feeling of discomfort, a lack of sleep leads into a vicious cycle which can get worse if it’s not addressed.
A natural by-product of finding it harder to get to sleep? A constant feeling of fatigue and a lack of energy. Feeling groggy is a direct result of a poor state of mind, but it’s a common side-effect if you’re either not getting enough rest, or your brain is overactive.
It’s often the case with symptoms of mental health that one negative trait leads into the next. If you’re fatigued, there’s a high chance your brain will stop thinking things through logically. We sometimes call this “brain fog”. That means irrational thinking will creep into your daily life, potentially leading to poor decision making.
A lack of both mental motivation and physical energy will have a direct impact on your productivity. Whether it’s carrying out tasks around the home or in a more professional sense, you’ll struggle to be as effective as you once were.
The toll the menopause takes on the mood and attitude of those experiencing it can be damaging. It’s important to get the help and support you need if you start to notice your mental health slipping.
Testosterone replacement therapy
As we’re now well aware, it’s a lack of testosterone which plays a direct role in triggering the male menopause. As such, one of the best ways to counter the problem is by receiving dedicated testosterone replacement therapy.
The process is often relatively straightforward. The patient will be sent a test kit, which they can use to take a blood sample. This is sent back to the therapy provider, who will assess whether or not treatment is needed.
This will often be administered in the form of a gel or injection. There are lots of benefits to receiving this kind of treatment:
- Increased muscle strength and size
- Better concentration and drive
- Lowered level of anxiety
- A deeper and more stable voice
- Greater assertiveness
Treatment will only be offered if a clinical professional believes your levels are low enough to justify the introduction of additional hormones.
Getting treatment is a big step, but sometimes a necessary one. That said, there are other ways to lessen the impact of a testosterone deficiency such as diet.
Finding a healthy diet
Much like with everything in life, finding a well-balanced diet is key to battling the effects of male menopause. A healthy diet can reduce body fat levels which reduces the amount of testosterone converted into oestrogen.
Vitamin D and Zinc are widely considered to be the most important nutrients for triggering the growth of testosterone. As such, consuming foods which are high in them is the best way to increase your levels if you have a deficiency.
Examples of some of the best additions to your diet to achieve this include:
For Vitamin D:
- Lean animal protein
- Oysters and other shellfish
- Different types of nuts
- Raw milk or cheese
Think about getting creative with recipes, and try to incorporate a few of these into meals you’re having every day. Fortunately, there are quite a lot of ingredients to choose from.
Adding these basic ingredients to your daily meals will help to ensure your body has the nutrients required to produce testosterone properly.
Vitamin D and Zinc are widely considered to be the most important nutrients for ensuring normal levels of testosterone production.
Getting the right level of exercise
No good diet is complete without also changing up how you approach physical exercise. As we’ve seen, testosterone is a key factor in being able to efficiently work your body.
But what happens when you’re lacking the hormone needed to do this? Here are some exercises and routines which are great ways to help encourage the development of testosterone.
This type of workout keeps your heart healthy, while also encouraging the growth of some muscle groups. This is particularly helpful if additional weight gain has become a factor in your male menopause journey. Common forms of cardio include running, walking, cycling and swimming.
Owing to the risk of lowered bone density during male menopause, strength training is also highly recommended. Simple workouts with dumbbells at home will do the trick, or you could even try heading to the gym.
This not only helps with staying loose and free, but also helps to calm the mind. There are several online learning tools you can follow, or again you could head out to join a professional teacher for a proper class.
Exercise is a fantastic way to reduce body fat, which in turn increases the level of testosterone in the body. Try introducing it casually at first, and then increase the levels once your body gets more used to it.
Guest post by Optimale https://www.optimale.co.uk/
OptiMale provide men in the UK with medical services & advice to treat the symptoms of low testosterone. Think you might have low testosterone? Find out by taking their online questionnaire, or with a testosterone blood test.
Read their full article about Understanding the male menopause and mental health here: https://www.optimale.co.uk/male-menopause-mental-health-guide/
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