Just as women’s hormone levels drop as we age, so do men’s testosterone levels. A gradual aged-related drop in testosterone is the term used to describe age-related hormone changes in men. The change is slow- a loss of about 1% per year after age 30. By the time most men reach the age of 50, testosterone levels are low enough to causes a group of changes/symptoms including weight gain, low or no libido, diminished mental acuity, reduced muscle mass, depression, fatigue and impaired memory.
What does testosterone do?
Testosterone helps build muscles, and is necessary for normal sex drive and stamina. It also contributes to metabolic activities involved with bone formation and liver function. It plays a role in preventing and treating diabetes, and helps regulate the immune system.
What causes a drop in testosterone?
Normal aging. In men younger than 50, Low T can be caused by diabetes, kidney or liver disease, lung diseases, or pituitary gland disorders, genetic diseases, HIV infection, radiation or chemotherapy for cancer, and trauma to the testes.
What are the symptoms?
- Changes in sexual function including erectile dysfunction, reduced desire, fewer spontaneous erections and infertility, and urinary problems.
- Changes in sleep that causes insomnia or increased sleepiness.
- Physical changes including loss of muscle mass and strength, increased fat, and decreased bone density. Tender, swollen breasts (gynecomastia), loss of body hair and low energy.
- Mental changes including feeling sad, depressed, difficulty concentrating or poor memory, and decreased motivation and self-confidence.
When low testosterone does not always produce these symptoms. Low T symptoms can be caused by other factors like medication side effects, diabetes, thyroid disorders, depression, sleep apnea.
How is it diagnosed?
You will receive a physical exam, discuss your symptoms, undergo tests to rule out other medical conditions and ultimately, a blood test to measure bioavailable testosterone levels is the key method to diagnose andropause.
Testosterone replacement therapy- gels, injections, patches, and long-acting pellets.
If low testosterone is affecting your life, testosterone replacement therapy may improve your energy levels, sex drive and mood. Only men with symptoms confirmed by a blood test showing low testosterone levels, should consider replacement therapy.
Side effects of testosterone replacement therapy include rashes, itching or irritation where the testosterone is applied. But, replacement therapy can cause certain diseases to get worse:
- BPH- Benign prostatic hypertrophy- the prostate gland enlarges when stimulated by testosterone therapy
- Prostate cancer is also stimulated by testosterone therapy
- Blood clots – testosterone can increase the risk of blood clots that can travel to the lungs.
- Sleep apnea
- Congestive heart failure, and
- Affect fertility if the man is of reproductive age
Men in midlife are vulnerable to low testosterone. If you feel demoralized- question your values and accomplishments and the direction or your life, feel regrets and unfulfilled dreams of achievement, experience weakness, loss of energy, emotional changes, irritability and anxiety, it’s time to see the doctors at Cary Med and Wellness in Cary, North Carolina.
Andropause affects millions of men in America, and can affect you or someone you love up to age 80! The good news is that the considerable weight of the scientific evidence is that testosterone treatment is safe for the prostate, and improves early detection of prostate cancer. *
*Feneley, M.R. and Carruthers, M (2012) “Is Testosterone Treatment Good for the Prostate? Study of Safety during Long-Term Treatment”, Journal of Sexual Medicine 9:2138-2149.
Individual results may vary.