Is male menopause a thing? Robbie Williams shares hormonal issues and thinning hair

The singer has opened up about his recent hormone-related health struggles (Alamy/PA)
The singer has opened up about his recent hormone-related health struggles (Alamy/PA) The singer has opened up about his recent hormone-related health struggles (Alamy/PA)

Robbie Williams says he is going through the “manopause”, blaming it for a range of problems including thinning hair, reduced sex drive, insomnia and lethargy.

The singer, who will be 50 in February, told The Sun he was “knackered” from years of partying, and added: “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.

“I’ve used up all of the natural good stuff. I’ve got the manopause.”

But does the male menopause – sometimes called the ‘andropause’ – really exist?

No, says Dr Ravinder Anand-Ivell, an associate professor of endocrinology and reproductive physiology at the University of Nottingham.

“In men there’s no such clinical entity as the ‘andropause’, ‘manopause’, ‘male menopause’, or any other symptomatic equivalent to the menopause in women,” she says.

For women, the menopause causes acute symptoms sparked by the end of ovarian hormonal function, when a woman’s egg reserves run out, at around the age of 50, and Anand-Ivell says: “Men have no equivalent physiology.”

But she adds: “For Robbie Williams, with the symptoms he describes, I would advise that – as he himself suggests – he gets his blood hormones checked out by a GP or endocrinologist (hormone specialist).”

She says these symptoms “could be attributed to low testosterone, but also possibly to other hormone, vitamin, or mineral deficiencies”.

What symptoms might men attribute to the ‘manopause’?

The NHS says some men develop depression, loss of sex drive, erectile dysfunction, and other physical and emotional symptoms in middle-age, and may believe it’s connected to the male menopause.

Other symptoms they may link to the male menopause include mood swings and irritability, loss of muscle mass and reduced ability to exercise, developing a large belly or ‘man boobs’ (gynaecomastia), insomnia, lack of energy and poor concentration.

Such symptoms may be connected to lifestyle or psychological problems, and the NHS advises any men experiencing them to see their GP to get them checked out.

Low testosterone in older men

Although there’s no real equivalent of the female menopause in mid-life men, a small percentage of older men, almost exclusively over the age of 65 years, may suffer from testosterone deficiency known as late-onset hypogonadism, or functional hypogonadism, says Anand-Ivell.

She explains that the condition affects around 2.1% of men over 65, and continues: “It’s characterised by low concentrations of testosterone in the blood, together with symptoms of testosterone deficiency such as loss of libido, bone and muscle weakness.

“It represents a gradual decline with older age in general male function, but there’s no abrupt change, and certainly not in younger years.”

She says that if younger men have testosterone deficiency symptoms, it may be an indication of other underlying medical conditions, and they should seek medical advice.

Why is ‘male menopause’ being talked about?

It may all boil down to people wanting to make money from men in middle age, which isn’t new.

Anand-Ivell warns: “A lot of the andropause literature stems from commercial interests wishing to draw spurious comparisons with the female menopause in order to sell testosterone-related products, for which there’s no clinical evidence of benefit.”