Manopause: How to fight the hormone dropoff and restore vitality and health
Testosterone is your manliest hormone. It’s the hormone that fuels your muscle growth, facial hair, energy level, sex drive, and deep voice. It’s what makes a man feel like a man.
But as you get older, testosterone levels slowly drop and a host of symptoms can begin to take hold. Your mood can swing a little more in each direction, or in more directions. Your sex drive and energy levels can wane. You might gain weight around your gut, feel lethargic or feel a general sense that something is “off”.
If that sounds like you, you may be experiencing “manopause” – a natural regression of testosterone and other hormones. Some men experience symptoms of manopause as early as their 30s. Even though manopause is very common, it’s something that some guys don’t like to talk about because it requires them to acknowledge and confront the loss of something very important to their sense of self. The thinking goes that losing your testosterone means you are losing your manhood.
But that’s not true. Your testosterone may be lower, but you can get it back up to normal levels without a prescription. Read on to learn more about manopause and discover natural ways to “man up.”
What is Manopause?
Slowly declining hormone levels are the driving forces behind manopause. Your testosterone levels drop about 10% every decade after you reach the age of 30 – or about 1% per year. On top of that, it’s possible that other hormones decline or fluctuate, such as your thyroid hormones.
The natural comparison to manopause is menopause. They sound similar but they aren’t the same phenomenon. Menopause is when a woman’s periods stop, and that can be from hormones or from more direct causes, like hysterectomy or radiation therapy.
With manopause, hormones change so slowly that you may not even notice. Or when you do notice, you may attribute the symptoms to something else.
It’s also possible that another force at work that’s causing men to look the other way when experiencing manopause symptoms…
The Manopause Taboo
The concept of manopause can seem taboo for a lot of men. You may not want to even talk about it or acknowledge it. But I want to confront this taboo head on.
Men and women each experience unique sets of pressures. Men are expected to be the action-movie hero – strong, powerful, fearless. They are told that “crying is for girls” and showing vulnerabilities is a show of weakness. These stigmas can be powerful driving forces in men’s behavior, which means they can be afraid to admit they are losing a step.
This denial, however, can be dangerous when the expectations of being a man’s man collide with the physiological realities of aging. As a result, they put even more pressure on themselves to be that superhero even though their body is telling them to dial it down.
Whether a man wants to talk about manopause or not, one thing is certain: Your physical capabilities and mental health will continue to decline if you allow your hormone levels to drop and swing.
Natural Ways to Balance Hormones and Regain Youthful Energy
I’ve always believed that “age” is a feeling and not a number. If you take care of your body, you can have more strength and stamina at the age of 50 than you did at the age of 30. But as you get older, taking care of your body requires a more comprehensive approach.
My first suggestion to boost your testosterone and balance your hormones: Get a physical exam and have your hormone levels checked. Ask about your symptoms to see if other medications or conditions could be contributing to them.
From there, there are a variety of ways to increase testosterone and scale back those manopause symptoms.
Diet, Exercise, and Testosterone
First and foremost is eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.
Studies have shown that magnesium and zinc can boost your testosterone levels. These both can be found in many nuts and legumes like cashews, sunflower seeds, almonds, chick peas, mung beans, lentils and more.
If you prefer to take supplements instead, I recommend no more than 30 mg/day of zinc and 500 mg/day of magnesium. As always, look for naturally sourced, non-GMO supplements.
Vitamin D is also a proven testosterone booster. Egg yolks, tuna, fortified milk and 20 minutes a day of sunlight (without sunscreen) are excellent sources.
Meanwhile, there’s a long list of foods that can deplete your testosterone levels: alcohol, soy, gluten, soda, pasta, ice cream, fast food, cheese, and vegetable oils high in polyunsaturated fat.
A low-fat diet can also threaten your testosterone levels because those diets often trade fats for carbohydrates. Excess carbs are converted to glucose (i.e. sugar), and high blood sugar levels are linked to low testosterone levels.
Exercise does so much more for your body than keep you in shape. It’s a natural stress outlet and detoxifier. Regular exercise helps you sleep better at night and increase your energy levels throughout the day.
But what you might not know is that some exercises are especially good at raising testosterone levels. Strength training and heavy weight lifting are two of the best ways to increase your testosterone levels.
If that sounds daunting, remember that Rome wasn’t built in one day. Start small and work your way up, increasing reps and weight as you feel ready. The size of your muscles isn’t as important as the fact that you’re working them on a regular basis.
Rack up some W’s to Raise Your T
Nearly three decades ago, a remarkable study was conducted on a group of college tennis players. Testosterone levels were measured before and after matches in a tournament. Players who had the highest levels of testosterone before matches also had the most positive mood. When the matches were over, testosterone levels rose in the winners and dropped for losers. Further, testosterone levels were highest in winners who were proud of their performance.
This demonstrates two points: First, that testosterone plays a critical role in athletic performance. And second, that you can boost your own testosterone by simply winning at something on a regular basis.
This is where you can get creative with how you win. Competition doesn’t require that you have another person as an opponent.
For example, my biggest competitor is myself. I’m always trying to improve what I do, especially activities I do on a regular basis. You can win at nearly anything when you set and accomplish goals. And that could mean physical activities such as:
- Increasing time and intensity of your regular workout
- Maintaining a weed-free lawn and garden
- Making five consecutive baskets on the basketball court
Of course, not every competition is physical. Here are some mental or personal challenges you can give yourself:
- Winning at online games such as chess, solitaire, crossword puzzles and sudoku
- Piecing together a big jigsaw puzzle, even if it’s just a handful of pieces every day
- Building or completing a collection
- Crossing another item off the bucket list
Banking these wins is a fun and effective way to raise your testosterone levels. Whichever way you choose to compete, the point is to set realistic goals so that you can achieve them (but not without a challenge) and get a testosterone boost.
Stress and Testosterone
Many studies have linked high stress levels with low testosterone levels. The culprit is another hormone, cortisol. It’s often called the “stress hormone” because your body produces it when under duress. And too much of it can suppress your body’s production of testosterone level.
Relieving your stress can be a natural way to elevate your testosterone. Exercise is a great stress reliever, of course. But again, this is where you can and should be creative with stress relief.
I’ve found that many men of all ages cope with stress by pursuing a hobby. Whether it’s bird watching, fixing cars, or collecting stamps, hobbies are a great way to engage your mind and motor skills while providing a solace from daily stressors.
Therapy shouldn’t be overlooked. Just talking with someone about what’s causing your stress goes a long way in helping you cope with it. Therapy doesn’t necessarily mean you have mental illness. Sometimes there’s a lot of unsorted things in your brain’s garage and you need a few new tools to help clean it out.
Speaking of therapy, don’t discount the wonders of retail therapy! Try on some new clothes. Discover (or rediscover) what looks good on you. Wear those new clothes with confidence. If you ever doubt the power of retail therapy, just ask any woman and they can tell you how much it works!
Testosterone Boosting Supplements
Finally, there are a few supplements that can give a boost and help you lock in the gains of the above-mentioned testosterone-boosting activities.
Several studies have shown that the ashwagandha can: reduce cortisol levels, shed fat, boost testosterone by up to 130%, and increase muscles strength by more than 50% when taken with an exercise regimen.
I recommend 675 mg/daily. I also suggest that you add vitamin D3 to your diet—at least 1,000 IU—because research also correlates higher D3 levels with higher testosterone levels.
Tee Off Your Testosterone Today
Talking about manopause may be difficult but I promise you that falling victim to its symptoms is worse. But if those symptoms got you feeling down, it’s not hard to man up to get your swagger back. You can fight back with a variety of fun and easy ways to boost your testosterone, balance your hormones, and lower your stress – starting today.
- “Male Menopause.” WebMD. Last reviewed Jan. 14, 2017.
- Cinar, V., et al. “Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Testosterone Levels of Athletes and Sedentary Subjects at Rest and After Exhaustion.” Biological Trace Element Research. Published March 30, 2010.
- Bible, Adam. “7 Exercises that Naturally Increase Testosterone.” Men’s Journal. Last reviewed July 22, 2018.
- Brilla, L.R. & Conte, Victor. “Effects of a Novel Zinc-Magnesium Formulation on Hormones and Strength.” Journal of Exercise Physiology. Published October 2000.