Meet Ross Tomkins Who is Helping Men with Male Menopause A.K.A. The Andropause
A qualified physiotherapist, author and investor, Ross Tomkins is also a passionate advocate for men’s health – a passion which only grew when he began suffering the effects of the male menopause and realised the lack of awareness around this condition
While he didn’t find out the cause until much later, Ross Tomkins first felt the effects of the male menopause in his early 30s. ‘I first knew something wasn’t quite right when I began to experience joint pain. That was the first symptom that took me to the doctors. After my aching joints, the symptoms progressed into low energy and apathy, a general lack of desire for life really.
‘I was suffering badly with brain fog – my worst symptom – and sometimes it meant the inability to form words. Joanne, my wife, would often notice before me that something wasn’t right. She realised that I had retreated a bit into my shell, and I became quite distant in the relationship. I would answer questions quite succinctly; that would then often become a conversation where she thought something was wrong with her, and I’d explain that actually, it was me.’
As a physiotherapist, Ross knew that what he was experiencing wasn’t something musculoskeletal, leading to blood tests and a referral to endocrinology. ‘I saw three endocrinologists who tried me on various different medication, but ultimately, they decided that everything was ‘normal’,’ he explains. ‘One of them actually told me that my symptoms were all in my head. That left me feeling frustrated as I knew it wasn’t the case.’
It was only when Ross met Dr. Bernard Willis that the truth became clear. ‘We talked for an hour about how I felt like an old-fashioned toy robot, the ones you needed to wind up,’ he says. ‘I had no energy and Dr. Willis knew straight away I had low testosterone, something that wasn’t recognised before. After years of back and forth in the NHS, there was a huge sigh of relief when a diagnosis was actually made. I could finally get back to living my life at my full potential.’
While most people are familiar with the female menopause, they may not be aware that many symptoms can be experienced by both men and women during that midlife period. The male menopause, also known as the andropause, is a collection of symptoms, including fatigue and a decrease in libido, experienced by middle-aged or older men, and attributed to a gradual decline in testosterone.
In the past what men experienced in that middle period of life may have been referred to as a midlife crisis. We’re all familiar with the joke about the middle-aged man buying a Ferrari and becoming a lycra-clad biker, but the joking stops when men are faced with feeling hopeless, suffering impotency and even developing man boobs,’ says Ross.
‘Unlike women who are responding to a sudden drop in hormone levels, men’s problems can be psychological or include lifestyle factors. That is because the drop in testosterone levels is very gradual when it begins at age 30 to 40 and in fact declines at the rate of only about two percent per year, which is not a level that should cause any significant problems. If a man is found to be deficient in testosterone, known in medical terms as late-onset hypogonadism, it may be the cause of any menopause-type symptoms that are being experienced.
‘The andropause is common in middle-aged men,’ adds Ross. ‘But like myself, these symptoms may become apparent in your early 30s – we have even had cases in younger men. It is important that we spread more awareness and let men know that there is help out there for them.’
While the male menopause can’t simply be cured, it can be treated. ‘After beginning my own journey on Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT), and a vast change in lifestyle and nutrition, all my symptoms started to melt away. I went from feeling much older than I was, to the best I had felt in years,’ says Ross. And now he has set up Alphagenix, to help other men in his position.
‘Alphagenix provides premium, medically-supervised TRT for men with low testosterone,’ he explains. ‘It was founded in late 2021 by myself and my business partner Ben Paglia and was created out of my own experiences over the last decade.’ Ross felt that, looking back on his initial encounters with the NHS, they clearly were not equipped to help and he would use this, and his later experiences with private companies, to make Alphagenix something men could rely on.
‘I took all the best bits and meshed them together to create a unique experience that not only treats the client holistically but offers frequent follow up appointments and blood tests with our medical team, all conveniently wrapped up in an easy subscription service. Each day we are growing and continuing to help more men across the UK through education, diagnosis, intervention, support and continual monitoring.’
For those men who go to Alphagenix, their treatment begins with a triage call with Ross himself or one of the team, where they will discuss the client’s symptoms and suitability for treatment. If deemed suitable, for example if the patient has at least three symptoms of low testosterone, they will then be recommended blood tests. Alphagenix work with closely with a number of clinics nationwide where a comprehensive set of blood tests are analysed before the client has a conversation with one of the doctors who will discuss the results and propose a treatment plan.
In terms of treatment there are a few options. ‘If treatment is indicated, the patient has the choice between creams, injections or oral medication,’ Ross continues, ‘and we then carry out a repeat set of bloods after six weeks to check progress.
‘We closely monitor our client’s physiology with blood tests every three months for as long as they are part of Team Alphagenix, so we can tweak levels as appropriate and ensure our clients remain in optimal health. Our goal is to help clients become the best version of themselves.’
Ross says Alphagenix’s expertise sets them apart from other male healthcare providers. ‘Our doctors are experts in TRT, with our chief medical officer, Dr. Bernard Willis, having over 30 years’ experience in hormone health. But we were founded from my own personal experience, having been on TRT for over 10 years, and our operations are based on empathy and understanding.
‘We truly care about our patients and want them to succeed in everything they do. With a seven day a week private support group, including health coaches, nutritional therapists, personal trainers, midlife mentors, and a high-performance mindset coach, we want to optimise all areas of their health, not just their hormones.’
While of course having practical goals to aim for such as expanding Alphagenix’s telemedicine services outside of the UK, Ross’ hopes for the future are much closer to home. ‘It is my sincere hope to educate as many men as possible about the andropause,’ he says. ‘To let them know that they are not alone and those feelings of emptiness and apathy may well be treatable.
‘I would encourage all men to have regular blood tests as it’s easier to optimise your life when you know what your internal biochemistry looks like. You do not have to give up and accept that the way you feel is “normal”. You can choose to optimise your life and enjoy health, wellbeing and vitality long into middle and old age.’