Andropause is characterised by symptoms of anxiety, depression and weight gain
An NHS Trust is allowing staff to take a year of paid leave for the “male menopause”, despite the condition not being clinically recognised.
East Midlands Ambulance Service managers have been told to give consideration to men experiencing menopausal-like symptoms brought on by drops in testosterone levels known as “andropause”, including providing extra uniforms and changing shift patterns.
In written guidance, which is hosted online by the health service’s employment body, NHS Employers, the trust says male staff should not be made to feel embarrassed about their symptoms.
Portable fans and heaters should be made available and men should be able to claim sick pay and to have phased returns from serious periods of illness, as well as time off to seek advice, the guide says.
Andropause, commonly known as the male menopause, is characterised by symptoms of anxiety, depression and weight gain – similar to many of the symptoms women have at menopause.
In serious cases it can lead to erectile dysfunction, gynaecomastia – colloquially known as “man boobs” – hot flushes, as well as drops in libido and energy levels.
Unlike the menopause women experience, this can happen throughout much of a man’s adult life and is typically related to levels of testosterone in the body.
Tina Richardson, deputy director of human resources at East Midlands Ambulance Service, confirmed male staff could receive up to a year of sick pay for symptoms of andropause.
She said: “As well as having menopause guidance we also support anyone within the organisation who is affected directly or indirectly by the andropause.
“We provide occupational sick pay for up to 12 months based on service length. That will support absences which may result from symptoms of the andropause or where time off for medical appointments is required.”
This is despite a senior NHS source saying the male menopause was “not clinically recognised” and that there was no national guidance on how employers should support sufferers.
NHS England also confirmed that the East Midlands Ambulance Service guidance was not a national policy.
While the symptoms of the menopause have been well highlighted in recent campaigns, including by celebrities such as Davina McCall and Louise Minchin, the male menopause is less understood.
The ambulance service is not the only employer to introduce a policy on the male menopause.
The Dyfed-Powys police force includes information about the male menopause in its menopause policy but does not offer time off for symptoms.
The Midcounties Co-op instituted male menopause guidance in August 2022 and its policy instructs managers to offer a “wellbeing passport” alongside “grocery aid”, alongside other flexible working adjustments.
Some unions are also pushing for greater recognition of the condition.
Jennifer Dean, head of equalities at Community, said research from the trade union had found “very little understanding” of the “male menopause”.
She added: “There were also real taboos and myths when talking about it, so we wanted to change that for our members.”
She said the union wanted to empower men to talk about their experiences of menopause and to be able to ask for help.