Does the ‘male menopause’ exist? Robbie Williams claims he has symptoms

Robbie Williams, who has discussed the male menopause. (Getty Images)
Robbie Williams shares the effects of the 'male menopause'. But is this the right name for it? (Getty Images)

Robbie Williams has claimed he is going through the male menopause – or the "manopause" as he calls it - and has shared the symptoms he believes he's suffering from.

The 49-year-old suspects years of partying have left him "knackered" and deprived of essential hormones.

"The hair is thinning, the testosterone has left the building, the serotonin is not really here and the dopamine said goodbye a long time ago," he told The Sun.

"I've used up all of the natural good stuff. I've got the manopause."

And the alleged effects don't go unnoticed by his family, consisting of wife Ayda Field and their four children. "My daughter says to me, 'Daddy's lazy'. I don't like the term 'lazy' as that's how I was described when I was younger," he adds.

"The reality is that I'm just f***ing knackered from what I did to myself in the Nineties and bits of the 2000s."

Williams also shared that he has different sleep patterns to most. "I go to bed at 11pm and I'm just lying there completely awake and completely alert until 5am. It's one the banes of Ayda's existence that she doesn't get me until 1pm." This follows the couple previously discussing having less sex after marriage (though they aren't short of intimacy).

But what is the "manopause" and is it a real thing?

An older Black man sits on his sofa with a concerned expression on his face, as he leans his head into one hand
Some men experience a gradual decline in testosterone levels as they age, known as andropause. (Getty Images)

What is the male menopause?

Awareness around menopause, which affects women, has grown in recent years. But, the increase in information and knowledge about the condition has also thrown a spotlight on andropause, also known as "male menopause".

While the term "male menopause" has been criticised as "misleading" by medical experts, it is true that some men go through andropause when they reach their late 40s to early 50s.

Dr Naveed Younis, consultant endocrinologist and general physician at Spire Regency Hospital, tells Yahoo UK that the term is misleading because, in men, testosterone levels "gradually decrease" rather than suddenly dropping. On the other hand, women experience a big drop in oestrogen, which causes most of the symptoms of menopause.

"This [what some men experience] is clinically referred to as andropause or androgen deficiency in the ageing male (ADAM)," he explains. "Andropause symptoms usually take around 20 years to start showing. Although testosterone levels drop by about 1% per year from around age 30, signs of andropause don’t usually begin until the late 40s and early 50s."

An older white man wearing black frame glasses rests his chin in one hand as he sits in an armchair and stared out a window with a bored expression on his face
Some symptoms of andropause include loss of energy, tiredness, depression and anxiety. (Getty Images)

Conversations around menopause have also brought up the argument that women should be given paid leave if they are unable to work because of it. While the UK government rejected recommendations to consult on piloting a workplace menopause leave policy in England earlier this year, some employers have implemented a similar policy on their own accord.

One NHS Trust has taken it further. The East Midlands Ambulance Service will reportedly allow staff to take a year of paid leave for both menopause and andropause.

Tina Richardson, deputy director of human resources at the trust, told The Telegraph: "As well as having menopause guidance we also support anyone within the organisation who is affected directly or indirectly by the andropause.

"We provide occupational sick pay for up to 12 months based on service length. That will support absences which may result from symptoms of the andropause or where time off for medical appointments is required."

However, the term "male menopause" has been decried by the NHS and doctors as "unhelpful" because it suggests men experience menopause-like symptoms due to a sudden drop in testosterone when they hit middle age – similar to what happens when women reach menopause – rather than just a small, steady decline.

Watch: Robbie Williams' sex drive has slumped since stopping testosterone injections

What causes andropause?

As men age, their testosterone levels gradually decline. According to Dr Younis, lifestyle and psychological factors, such as "anxiety, depression, stress, lack of exercise, weight gain, poor sleep and drinking too much alcohol, can also cause or contribute to many of these symptoms".

What are the symptoms of andropause?

Physical symptoms of andropause include:

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Lack of energy/tiredness

  • Loss of muscle mass

  • Loss of sex drive

  • Erectile dysfunction

  • Changes in fat distribution (you may develop a more prominent belly or swollen breast tissue)

Men who go through andropause may also experience emotional and cognitive symptoms, such as:

  • Depression

  • Irritability

  • Short-term memory problems

  • Mood swings

  • Poor concentration

How can andropause be treated?

"In most cases, treatment focuses on easing your symptoms by following a healthy, balanced diet, reducing how much alcohol you drink, quitting smoking, exercising regularly, finding ways to relax and lower your stress levels, and improving your sleep," Dr Younis says.

"If appropriate, your doctor may recommend you have a blood test to check your testosterone levels. If this shows that your testosterone levels are abnormally low for your age, ie. you have a testosterone deficiency, they may refer you to a doctor who specialises in treating hormone conditions (an endocrinologist)."