Witnessing your partner struggle with their health is never an easy experience, and this is made even worse when you are both unsure of what the problem is. When it comes to men’s health, there are many common conditions that can present mild symptoms or be confused with other issues. Low testosterone levels, also known as the andropause when linked to age-related decline, for example, can cause weight gain, tiredness and irritability. These can also be symptoms of depression, hypothyroidism and post viral fatigue syndrome. The psychological signs of low testosterone might also be passed off as ‘grumpy old man syndrome’!
In light of Men’s Health Week (14-20th June 2021), we are exploring the topic of low testosterone and the symptoms that you should keep an eye out for in your partner.
Is He Just Grumpy? Or Is It Low Testosterone?
Just like the sex hormones within the female body, testosterone is a neurosteroid. In the same way that women can get brain fog during the menopause, men can experience impaired mental function when affected by low testosterone. This can cause psychological side effects, including:
- Low mood
- Changes in cognitive function
These are the side effects of low testosterone that are most often associated with ‘grumpy old man’ syndrome. You might find that your partner is more easily irritated by things that you do or say; he might be less responsive or have a lower level of interest in activities that he once enjoyed; and he may find it harder to cope with stress in his job. However, although it might seem like a lighthearted joke to disregard this behaviour as ‘grumpiness’ in old age, all of these symptoms could have an impact on not only your partner’s future mental health, but also yours. In addition, impaired mental health is likely to affect the quality of your relationship as well as relationships with other family members, friends and work colleagues.
Ultimately, you are the most likely person to notice if your partner is not himself, so if these symptoms are ongoing, it could be time to address them.
The Link Between Low Testosterone And Stress
Stress is a common cause of tension in relationships, and it is intrinsically linked to low testosterone. When we think about stress, work is often the most common cause. According to the Men’s Health Forum, ‘on average, 191,000 men a year report stress, depression or anxiety caused or made worse by work – an average of 1.2% of men in work over a 12 months period.’ For men aged 45-54, these feelings of stress and low mood hit their peak, which indicates a link with the andropause (as symptoms of the condition can begin to manifest from the age of 40). In addition to work, men of this age may be struggling with the duty of caring for ageing parents and supporting teenage children, as well as other responsibilities that could trigger stress.
Stress causes high cortisol levels within the body – that’s a well known fact. However, when cortisol levels rise, this can impact the levels of other hormones, including serotonin, dopamine and – you guessed it – testosterone. Therefore, with excessive stress comes the symptoms of hormone imbalance on top of low testosterone; if left untreated, this could lead to worsening mental health and even impact physical health.
Can Low Testosterone Be The Cause Of The ‘Dad Bod’?
We all know the look: a bit of a beer belly, a softened jawline, pecs that are a little less pert than they once were. While no one is expected to maintain the body that they had in their twenties and thirties, these elements of the ‘dad bod’ may be a sign that testosterone levels are low.
Testosterone has a high impact on the body’s metabolism. Low testosterone can cause a decrease in muscle tone and bone density, as well as an increase in abdominal fat. Additionally, it can diminish energy levels and thwart motivation. All these factors can culminate in diminishing self esteem.
If your partner has lost interest in exercise, is experiencing weight gain, and you catch him looking rather deflated when standing in front of the mirror, his testosterone levels could be the reason.
Should A ‘Dad Bod’ Be A Cause For Concern?
Not only does this change in physical appearance cause low self esteem, weight gain and decreased fitness levels due to low testosterone, there are also physical repercussions.
Men with low testosterone are more likely to have high insulin levels, which means that they are at higher risk of developing diabetes, as well as cardiovascular problems including high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Unfortunately, this is a vicious cycle, as these health problems can actually cause low testosterone, as well as being side effects of this condition.
How To Encourage Him To Seek Help
Studies have shown that men are less likely to visit their doctor, for both physical and mental health concerns than women. This may be more worrying for single men, as Harvard University found that married men are more likely to have better health. At the Marion Gluck Clinic, we have found that many men seeking help for symptoms of low testosterone and andropause have been persuaded to do so by their partners; however, even if they have taken the initiative to make and attend an appointment, it can still be difficult to obtain the answers we need in order to make a diagnosis or recommend treatment – which is why we take a unique approach.
While women are more likely to volunteer information, we prepare more direct ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions for our male patients, as information is often more difficult to obtain (however, this isn’t to say that we are not as attentive with our female patients. We always aim to acquire all the information that we need, regardless of gender). These questions include:
- Do you experience mood swings?
- Have you found yourself more irritable than usual?
- Have you ever thought that you may be experiencing depression?
- Have you felt less motivated about things that you were previously interested in?
- Has your confidence level changed? And if so, do you know why this may be?
- Has your libido reduced?
- Have you lost muscle tone?
- Are you getting erectile dysfunction?
- Have you gained weight?
This gives us a good idea of what’s going on, and if we do suspect low testosterone, we will request blood tests to confirm our suspicions. We can also use a DUTCH test to look at the cortisol levels and balance of sex hormones.
Most men respond very favorably to testosterone replacement therapy and report feeling better all-round! We prescribe low doses of testosterone as a transdermal cream (which is more convenient than pellets or injections) to restore an individual’s physiological levels. Men can sometimes present with very severe mood or anxiety changes that are caused by hormonal imbalance. If appropriate, we may prescribe a low dose of progesterone in the testosterone cream to help alleviate these symptoms.
We usually combine BHRT with high quality supplements and lifestyle changes for the very best results. Discover how to increase testosterone naturally using nutrition, supplements, and lifestyle changes.
Book To Speak To One Of Our Hormone Doctors
Your partner can easily book in to speak to one of our hormone doctors using our online booking system. All consultations are via video or phone so they can discuss in confidence, and privacy.