April 01, 2015
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Male Menopause

A 73-year-old man fell while on a walking tour in the Venezuelan Andes. He was going up a relatively steep, rocky incline when he lost his footing and fell forward. He did not fracture any bones, but, on returning to the U.S.A., decided to consult his physician concerning a general decrease in strength that had affected, among other things, his tennis game. The man, we'll call him Mr. B, also reported that he was often mildly fatigued, more grumpy than in the past, had diminished enthusiasm for sex and was less excited about planning future travel. Does this remind you of anyone you know?

[B]ecause he was well past 50 and had reported a decreased interest in sex, low testosterone syndrome was considered.

In a younger person, below age 50, an emotional explanation, such as mild depression or family problems, would probably account for his complaints but, because he was well past 50 and had reported a decreased interest in sex, low testosterone syndrome was considered.

Here are Mr. B's answers to the St. Louis University Low Testosterone Syndrome Survey:
  1. Do you have a decrease in libido? Yes
  2. Do you have a lack of energy? Yes
  3. Do you have a decrease in strength and/or endurance? Yes
  4. Do you have a decreased enjoyment of life? No
  5. Are you sad? No
  6. Are you grumpy? Yes
  7. Are your erections less strong? Yes
  8. Have you noticed a recent deterioration in your ability to play sports? Yes
  9. Are you falling asleep earlier after dinner? No
  10. Has there been a recent deterioration in your work performance? No

If a male over 50 answers yes to the first or seventh questions or yes on any three other questions, low testosterone syndrome should be suspected.

The Low Testosterone Syndrome
As is shown in Figure 1, nearly half of healthy males over 50 years of age have testosterone levels less than those seen in normal young males.(1)

Figure 1

Statistical studies have suggested the following effects may be associated with decline in testosterone:
  1. Decreased libido (enthusiasm for sex, sexual thoughts, etc.)(2)
  2. Decreased muscle mass
  3. Decreased memory
  4. Increased heart disease

Testosterone replacement is the standard treatment. Studies have shown increased strength,(3)(4)(5) improved visual spatial thinking,(6) increased bone and lean body mass(7) and decreased levels of leptin (the fat hormone).(6)

The major side effect of testosterone therapy is an increase in the percentage of red blood cells (the hematocrit) in the blood. People with too thick blood run the risk of blood clots and other mechanical blockages, especially in the smaller arteries and veins. When the hematocrit is more than 55%, testosterone needs to be discontinued or the patient has to have a blood letting. Hematocrit should be followed every three months. Other side effects include:
  • gynecomastia (breast enlargement)
  • water retention leading to hypertension or congestive heart failure
  • possible accelerated growth of prostatic cancer

However, evidence from available studies suggests that testosterone does not worsen benign prostatic enlargement in older men and has no effect, one way or the other, on blood cholesterol levels.
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Readers Comments
(2) Comments have been made

Jack Gunter
Testosterone injections seem to me a very drastic and potentially damaging theurapy. There must be some 'natural' medictions one could take.
Posted Sat, Jul. 16, 2011 at 8:09 am EDT
(US) xanaxesd Very informative post. Thanks for taking the time to share your view with us.
Posted Tue, Apr. 6, 2010 at 11:20 am EDT

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