Last updated: June 21, 2023
Andropause in the workplace
Andropause, also referred to as the “male menopause”, is when men experience physical and psychological changes to their health, due to a drop in testosterone (the hormone responsible for characteristics typically associated with men such as deep voice, muscle mass, as well as body and facial hair) production levels.
The symptoms associated with andropause can interfere with everyday life, so it is vital that not only support is put in place, but also to ensure that you feel confident in resolving the issue.
Unfortunately, many refer to “male menopause” as a myth, which can cause many men to be embarrassed to discuss how it is affecting their health or work. No one should be put in a position where they must suffer in silence, and we’re working to change that stigma.
The below guidance covers what andropause is, how it affects men, and what to do at work if you are going through it yourself.
Is andropause similar to the menopause?
No – although typically referred to as the “male menopause”, andropause occurs steadily as men age, averaging around a 1 to 2% drop in testosterone levels each year, as opposed to menopause which occurs suddenly.
What does the law say?
While there is no specific law that covers the andropause, under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA), employers have a duty to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of all employees – including from symptoms brought on by andropause.
What causes andropause?
Andropause is caused by low testosterone levels, and typically occurs when men age, usually between the ages of 40 to 50 as the testes produce less testosterone. However, andropause is known to also affect young men as well.
What are the symptoms of andropause?
The symptoms experienced by men going through the andropause differ, however it can include:
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Hot flushes.
- Lack of energy.
- Lack of enthusiasm.
- Loss of strength or muscle mass.
- Mood swings.
- Poor concentration.
- Reduced ability to exercise.
- Weight gain.
These symptoms can impact your ability to do your job, so it is important to know what to do if you are being affected, and what support is available to you.
While a lot of these symptoms can be managed, some men do experience severe complications when going through the andropause including increased risk of cardiovascular problems, and even osteoporosis.
I'm going through the andropause. What do I do?
We would first advise that you seek support from a medical professional such as your GP as they will be able to provide medical advice, solutions, and treatment.
The andropause can typically be managed by making lifestyle changes such as exercising, eating healthily, and taking more time to relax; however, a doctor may recommend therapy, medication or even hormone replacement therapy (HRT) if you have a testosterone deficiency. See ‘How can I manage andropause’ below for more information.
We would also advise that you speak with your union Rep and to your employer about the issues you are experiencing, as they will be able to help support you while you adapt to the reduced levels of testosterone.
Here are some things you should consider to help you at work:
- Talk about it – many people refer to andropause as a myth, but it is far from it. You should not feel ashamed to talk about a normal biological change that every man experiences.
- Ask for help – If your symptoms are affecting your work life, and you are struggling to meet deadlines, understand work or deal with workload, then ask your employer or colleagues for help.
- Speak to your employer – Remember, your employer has a duty of care to support your health (both physically and mentally). If the andropause is causing you to feel unwell, or struggle at work, they have a duty of care to adhere to under the HSWA. See ‘What should my employer do?’ below for more information.
- If your symptoms are severe, you can ask your employer to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace to better help you. Click here to find out more about making a reasonable adjustments request.
- Andropause affects everyone differently – so make sure to take the time to understand how it is affecting you, and what can be done to help alleviate the symptoms.
- Ensure you take your breaks, including time away from your desk or workstation to switch off, or get outside if possible.
- Take some time off work if you’re struggling (both mentally and physically).
- Most andropause symptoms can be managed by making lifestyle changes. So, make sure to take the time to get out to the gym, relax and eat healthily.
What should my employer do?
Employers have a legal obligation to support and manage employees’ mental health and wellbeing, including those going through the andropause.
Employers may undertake a risk assessment, to help identify considerations for andropausal men, including:
- If men feel comfortable talking to their employer about their symptoms.
- Whether referral to occupational health is needed.
- If the workplace has adequate rest facilities or bathrooms.
- Whether the temperature be controlled.
- If uniforms and personal protective equipment (PPE) reflect the needs of andropausal men.
- If current workload is unmanagable.
- If alternative duties/workload can be undertaken for a brief period.
- Whether a flexible working approach can be considered.
- How much time off will be required for medical appointments.
Once a risk assessment has been carried out, your employer should consider making reasonable adjustments to help you cope with symptoms and ensure you are not disadvantaged in carrying out your duties.
If you are experiencing bullying or harassment because you are going through the andropause, your employer has a duty of care to prevent this and take action if not.
If your employer is aware that you are going through the andropause, they should regularly check in with you to see if any changes that they have implemented are helping or if you need further support.
If your employer is unsupportive, contact Community immediately for support.
How can I support my colleague going through the andropause?
If you are concerned about your colleague who is experiencing andropause symptoms, here are some ways you can help to support them:
- Encourage them to talk.
- Acknowledge that it is a normal thing to experience.
- Respect how they feel.
- Encourage them to seek support (this could be from their trade union Rep, employer and their doctor).
- Don’t jump to conclusions.
- Respect their confidentiality. Don’t discuss their andropause or symptoms with others without their consent unless you are concerned for their safety and the safety of the people around them.
- Help them to find a solution if they’re finding it difficult to find support.
- Speak to your employer on their behalf (with their permission).
- Learn more about how andropause affects men.
You may also be interested in encouraging your employer to create a working environment that is not only safe, but also where men feel they can discuss their health openly, without being embarrassed.
If you are interested in finding out more about equalities for men, looking after the health, safety, and wellbeing of your colleagues at work, or are passionate about equality in the workplace, click here to find out more about becoming a Community Rep.
If you need help or advice, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0800 389 6332.
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