It’s typical for men to lose about 1% of their testosterone each year, beginning around age 30. Not all men who are nearing retirement age have low testosterone, unlike women who go through menopause. As female hormone levels drop when aging, they experience many symptoms. Only a small percentage of men experience andropause, therefore do not experience symptoms from low testosterone.
In a 2012 study with 3,000 participants, only 2% of men between the age of 40 and 79 were found to have low testosterone levels. This is a significant number and something for men to be attuned to during their middle years, yet no general cause for alarm.
Men who suffer from low testosterone in their 30s is rare, and may be caused by weight gain, sedentary lifestyle, excessive alcohol or smoking, or diseases, such as diabetes and cancer. Medications or depression may also cause the body to decrease production of testosterone. Lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, may reverse the effects, as well as recommendations by a physician through changes in medications.
Testosterone maintains bone density and muscle mass, providing strength vigor. It is also involved in the production of red blood cells, hair growth, and sex drive.
Low testosterone is a medical condition when not enough hormone is being produced by the body, causing a wide-range of problems for the individual. Men often experience noticeable changes in sexual function. Decreased libido and erectile dysfunction are telling symptoms. In some cases, men become infertile.
Other noticeable physical changes are:
- Increased body fat
- Swollen or tender breasts
- Reduced muscle mass
- Back pain / Fatigue / Loss of energy
Nonspecific symptoms include insomnia, fatigue, decreased motivation or depression. These can be caused by medications or other diseases.
Treatments and Research
The amount of men on one form of testosterone replacement therapy or another has grown exponentially since the early 2000s. Unfortunately, low T is often misconstrued as only a sexual disorder. “There is a true low testosterone disease state with specific symptoms that benefit from replacement therapy,” explained Dr. Chaykin, an endocrinologist at Meridien Research. “We understand how testosterone therapy works for men who need it, but we don’t fully know the long-term effects it has on the body. It’s too early to tell and more research is needed. We need to know the effects of testosterone replacement therapy on relatively healthy men and its effects beyond three years.”
Testosterone therapy can reverse the effects of hypogonadism, a condition where the body is unable to produce healthy amounts or no testosterone. The results of replacement therapy are mixed for healthy men experiencing normal aging and loss of testosterone.
Healthy individuals taking hormone replacement therapies may experience a range of side effects with varying severity. Blood clots, sleep apnea, and noncancerous growths are possible. Testosterone therapy may increase the risk for heart disease. If prostate cancer already exists, testosterone may accelerate its growth. Less severe reactions are enlarged breasts, acne, or decreased sperm production.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Unlike estrogen replacement therapy, testosterone therapy research is in its infancy. There is a need for large-scale prospective studies that investigate the positive and negative effects of testosterone replacement therapy especially on older individuals in order to make a risk-benefit analysis. More data is needed to understand the long-term effects of testosterone replacement therapy.
If you or someone you know is experiencing low testosterone, feel free to contact Meridien Research to see if there is a low-T study open in your area. Call 888-777-8839 or look at our current studies here.
About Louis B. Chaykin, MD: With over 5 decades of clinical experience, Dr. Chaykin has been a Principal Investigator with Meridien Research since 2007. He has conducted countless studies in his specialty, including diabetes, lipids, metabolic syndrome and osteoporosis.