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Testosterone Research

Testosterone Decline Isn't a Necessary Part of Aging
By Brian Fung Jun 25 2012, 3:41 PM ET The Atlantic

Scientists used to think drops in the male sex hormone were simply a normal part of the aging process. Now they're rethinking that hypothesis.

We know this much: that as men age, their testosterone levels tend to drop. We've largely taken the observation to mean that aging leads to a natural decline in the sex hormone. Yet there's little evidence to prove anything beyond a coincidental relationship between age and testosterone loss. It's a hypothesis the medical establishment merely accepted as truth over time.

Now, new research suggests a decline in testosterone levels doesn't have to be a fact of life. Instead, it may be the product of lifestyle choices you make as an adult.

In a study of 1,382 men, Australian researchers discovered that individuals with certain traits and habits wound up with lower testosterone levels than their peers. Those with chronic health problems in particular were more likely to see greater declines in the hormone. Participating men in the study ranged from 35 to 80 years of age, and the average age was 54.

The study subjects were tested for blood testosterone at the beginning and at the end of a five-year study period. The passage of time evidently had very little effect on the sample population in the aggregate; on average, testosterone levels declined about one percent per year. But when the researchers examined test subjects in groups, they found greater declines among those who, at either end of the study, had been obese, depressed, or had quit smoking. What this suggests is that the aging process may have only a marginal role to play in the testosterone decline observed in older men.

"Declining testosterone levels are not a natural part of aging," said Gary Wittert, a professor of medicine at the University of Adelaide and a co-author of the study. "They are most likely due to health-related behaviors or health status itself."

Wittert's research still doesn't explain why older men have less testosterone -- just that there's little basis to assume a causal relationship between age and hormone decline. The findings could simply be a function of obesity's greater prevalence among middle-aged men, for instance. Nor does it shed much light on why these factors and not others appear to be predictors for low testosterone.

Indeed, other life-changing events have also been shown to affect men's testosterone levels. Researchers at Northwestern University last year found that new dads experienced a median drop in testosterone of as much as 34 percent. But Wittert's study is one of the few to examine men in general over any lengthy period of time, he said. The results of his team's work was presented at a meeting of The Endocrine Society in Houston today.

mvcmvc mvcmvc 56-60, F 10 Responses Jun 26, 2012

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Testosterone therapy doesn't mean you will have prostate enlargement nor that you will get cancer. It can accelerate prostate cancer if you already have it but you should find out if you have prostate cancer before you embark on this kind of therapy anyway. It can make a lot of difference in your general well being and how you feel. It certainly helped me with depression, lack of energy, helped me lose some body fat and bring back some muscle mass that had been lost. It also sharpened up my mental acuity and helped my memory so it had many positive benefits. It can also make you kind of look like a monkey because it can cause you to grow body hair and the dose needs to be specifically adjusted to the person until you feel good but not like the Incredible Hulk wanting to smash stuff. But if your equipment is intact you can increase your testosterone by exercising and keeping fit too which no doubt will help anyway.

Thanks for this important post. I have low testosterone and I am tired all the time. I am addressing this problem with my physician this month and hope to have it corrected by the end of the year. The replies to your article are helpful also.

I have a low testosteron level but I do not have a problem with erection or climaxing but I am tire alot which is one of the signs-----I could have the treatments but it will increase trouble urinateing because of inlarge prostrate which than they treat you for that----scarey part that it magnifies everything including cancer so I backed away from it. I can put up with being tire but I know a lot of people that die from cancer and I don't want to be one of them.

thank God!! I just turned 50!

Makes sense, statistically speaking it may be difficult to prove a causal relationship between aging and testosterone loss which may merely correlate with age but is actually caused by some other factor(s) that also happen to correlate with age. All I know is I'm almost 43 and I'm as horny as I was at 23 maybe even more so.

For the spouses of ILIASM marriages, this data would precis down to -<br />
<br />
Some intimacy averse blokes have high testosterone levels.<br />
Some intimacy averse blokes have average testosterone levels.<br />
Some intimacy averse blokes have low testosterone levels.<br />
<br />
But all intimacy averse blokes ARE intimacy averse.<br />
<br />
Tread your own path.

Really Silly! Really liked your response!

My understanding was that in males, above a certain (very low) level, interest was there, and that it's only in instances of hypogonadism that there's a problem.<br />
<br />
And my sense is that, balls or not, I'd be interested. I have a brain.

I think it's probably random -- the way some women respond to menopause. Some women lose their sexual desire and some don't. I don't think men can predict when or even IF their testosterone levels will significantly decline. <br />
<br />
My husband's was literally nearly non-existent (about 6, and 600 is average). Was it age? I doubt it. Probably his numerous medications and other things all playing a role.

It's frustrating because we aren't even "old!"

Testosterone makes a huge difference in many facets of how a man experiences life not only in his sex drive but in his mental functioning and his physical well being. Low levels can result in large increases in body fat, loss of muscle mass, low energy levels, poor sleep patterns and many other seemingly unrelated things. I have experienced this first hand thanks to a serious incident that left me unable to produce enough testosterone. My levels plummeted to less than what a prepubescent 12 year old would have and I was miserable. I started supplements about 8 years ago and it was almost like being reborn. But the problem is that many doctors will look at a blood test and tell you that you are in the normal range if you are at 275 or above. That might be normal for a sick 90 year old male but it's not normal for a healthy sexually active man. To be that normal you need to be somewhere above 550 I do best at around 650 that's where I feel normal and have energy and feel like I'm alive if I fall much below 500 I'm almost catatonic. So just because a doctor says you are in the "normal range" doesn't mean jack. Get the numbers and if you are below 500 you should definitely look into getting a testosterone supplement. If your doctor insists you are normal get a better doctor who cares about how you feel because that's what this is about not numbers on a lab test but how you feel.

Agree that a low T count certainly could be negative. If lifestyle changes (and not the prelevant medical hypothesis - that low T is inevitable with aging) can help counter the effect over the long haul, that would be a good thing!

I have a condition called empty cella syndrome which means basically that my pituitary gland is missing in action. Without that you don't produce FSH and the other hormones that cause your body to produce testosterone. The effects are not pretty but once I received the supplements I became much healthier overall. I still lack some hormones that can't be replaced at all and the effects of that are unknown.

Many folks discuss the issue of testerostone in their stories and the role it might play. I found this to be a bit of interest.