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Science  —  7 minutes

Andropause and the influence of testosterone on leadership

June 18th, 2021
Biron Team
Biron Team

Virility and leadership are often associated with testosterone. We think of the alpha male as the leader of the pack, full of this masculine hormone. But what is it really? Is there a strong link between excess testosterone and positions of power? What are the repercussions for men reaching andropause when testosterone levels drop?

Is testosterone essential to virility and leadership?

A study suggests that high testosterone levels in men may be related to their ability to attain elevated hierarchical positions in their careers. However, the study was conducted on a small sample of 78 male executives in training at Harvard University and should therefore be received with reservations. Its main findings were the following:

  1. Participants with higher testosterone levels are responsible for more employees.
  2. These leaders have lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) compared to their colleagues.

These two factors taken together seem to explain the “success” of these participants. In fact, the combination of high testosterone and low cortisol could increase the tolerance to stress, thereby improving the ability to lead.

While it is known that excess testosterone often leads to a management style based on domination, it would seem that low cortisol levels help men temper their aggression. This would improve their ability to carry out their duties by avoiding confrontations.

Of course, these are only theories on the part of the researchers and we will have to wait a few more years for more serious studies on the subject. It is also important to note that no point of comparison has been established with the management abilities of women and that it would be premature to draw any conclusions.

Read more: The consequences of stress on the body

The onset of andropause, when testosterone drops

Andropause, also known as late-onset hypogonadism, is a condition in which men experience a small and steady decline in the production of testosterone and other hormones. The consequences for health are numerous and often not very specific. In general, this drop in testosterone production occurs around the age of 40 and extends over a period of 20 years or more.

It is also sometimes compared, wrongly, to menopause in women. In fact, menopause appears suddenly and involves a very pronounced drop in hormone levels over a shorter period of time. This situation leads to the end of ovulation and female fertility, which is not the case for men. [1]

Recognizing the symptoms

In reality, only 15%-20% of men experience andropause during their lifetime. Generally, the age-related decline in testosterone levels is around 1% per year starting at age 40. Therefore, it is not until the age of 65 or older that men truly notice a change in their overall health. [2]

For some men, however, symptoms appear at a younger age. They usually manifest themselves by a drop in sexual desire, decreased energy and athletic ability, and even excessive hot flashes. It is also important to note that while hypogonadism can affect desire, it does not directly affect the reproductive system and is not synonymous with impotence.

These manifestations can cause distress and lead to mood changes and a form of depression. Therefore, it is essential to know how to detect potential symptoms of andropause.

Recognizing and living with andropause

Establishing a diagnosis

When in doubt, it is possible to undergo hormone tests that can provide initial indications. However, since hormone levels vary considerably from one man to another, one test is not enough to make an accurate diagnosis. Therefore, it is also important to know each person’s lifestyle habits to determine whether the perceived physiological changes may be related to other causes. [3]

A diagnosis of hypogonadism is based on various signs that suggest a testosterone deficiency. These symptoms are described in two questionnaires. The responses are then evaluated by the physician to determine the need for further laboratory testing, such as a serum testosterone assay.

Doctors are using questionnaires to help them diagnose andropause. The two most commonly used are ADAM (Androgen Deficiency in the Aging Male) and the AMS (Aging Male Symptom Score). The types of questions asked in these questionnaires include:

  1. Are you experiencing a decrease in libido (sex drive)?
  2. Have you noticed a decreased ‘’enjoyment of life’’?
  3. Do you have a lack of energy?
  4. Do you have a decrease in strength and/or endurance?
  5. Have you noted a recent deterioration in your abilities to play sports?
  6. Have you lost height?
  7. Are your erections less strong?
  8. Are you sad and/or grumpy?
  9. Are you falling asleep after dinner?
  10. Has there been a recent deterioration in your work performance?

If the patient answers yes to questions 1 or 7 OR three questions, biochemical tests should be performed.

Possible treatments

Andropause is a complex phenomenon and requires a comprehensive picture of an individual’s situation in order to propose appropriate solutions. In some cases, the administration of testosterone is an effective remedy. A prior evaluation of the prostate will have to be done since the treatment is incompatible with any abnormality in this organ. In other situations, it is preferable to try to modify certain lifestyle habits.

Read more: Health issues related to aging

The importance of noticing the changes

As mentioned earlier, andropause does not manifest itself the same way in everyone. Symptoms incorrectly associated with hypogonadism may be due to very distant causes, such as poor lifestyle habits or recent disruptive events. Therefore, it is important to carefully analyze certain physical and psychological factors and do a brief history of each before making a diagnosis.

Andropause may also affect an individual’s leadership style and require a new approach to handling managerial responsibilities. It is often a difficult time, comparable to the mourning of one’s youth and best physical years. On the other hand, it could be an ideal time to reinvent oneself by defining new goals and exploring new avenues. For psychologist Yvon Dallaire, [4] it is “a transition to the golden age” which men must learn to manage in both their personal and professional lives.

For professional support, we’re here.

We provide services that can help your doctor diagnose andropause and determine the most appropriate treatment.

  • Total testosterone: Generally represents the biological activity of natural or medicinal testosterone at the tissue level
  • SHBG: Helps interpret abnormal testosterone levels
  • Bioavailable testosterone: Lowered bioavailable testosterone levels are consistent in men with primary hypogonadism or hypogonadism secondary to a pituitary deficiency.
  • Free testosterone: Lowered free testosterone levels are consistent in men with primary hypogonadism or hypogonadism secondary to a pituitary deficiency.
  • Bone densitometry: Measurement of bone density

Do you have a medical prescription for one of these tests? Make an appointment online or call Biron Health Group’s customer service at 1-833-590-2712.

  1. Mayo Clinic. (June 20, 2020). Male menopause: Myth or reality?

  2. Genecand-Le Temps, M.-P. (April 10, 2017). L’andropause, la vieillesse en pente douce. Le Devoir.

  3. ibid

  4. ibid

Biron Team
Biron Team