Unlike women, men experience a gradual decline in the male hormone testosterone from about the age of thirty. Men experience a slow decline in the production of testosterone at approximately one percent each year. In contrast women maintain high levels of the female hormone estrogen into their fifties which then rapidly declines over the course of five years. The changes during women’s menopause are sudden and easier to recognise. But for men the changes are gradual and not so easy to recognise.
During their fifties men may notice a decline in their lean muscle mass, a drop in their libido, increased irritability, poor concentration, increased fatty deposits (love handles) or low moods. These symptoms are often associated with a decline in testosterone. But there are other conditions that can cause the symptoms associated with testosterone deficiency. Alcohol abuse, thyroid and other hormonal disorders and even depression may cause similar symptoms in men with normal levels of testosterone.
Generally doctors typically test for the total testosterone levels in the blood. But some testosterones in the blood are active while other testosterones are inactive. It is low levels of the active testosterones that cause symptoms of testosterone deficiency.
Testosterone levels may vary widely among men of the same age. And to further complicate the issue, men with low levels of active testosterones may experience no symptoms. While men with normal levels of active testosterones may experience symptoms. Testosterone levels also fluctuate over the course of the day.
If you are uncertain about your levels of testosterone – go to your doctor and organise a blood test.
Christopher Swane - Couples Counselling and Psychotherapy - Wellington New Zealand