Many older men are conscious about the effects of aging on their bodies, from decreased sex drive to increased fat storage, especially around their abdomens. Testosterone therapy, usually with testosterone supplements like Androgel, becomes so tempting that most of them will seriously consider it.
But is it right for you? Keep in mind that testosterone therapy has its risks and rewards so careful consideration must be made before diving into it. Even doctors caution their patients about seeing testosterone therapy as a modern fountain of youth, if not the ultimate in anti-anting method.
Testosterone’s Role in Male Health
The concern about declining levels of testosterone among older men has its basis in fact. Testosterone, a hormone primarily produced in the testicles, is known as the male hormone because of its crucial roles in maintaining the following aspects:
- Fat distribution
- Bone density
- Muscle mass and strength
- Facial and body hair
- Sperm production
- Red blood cell production
- Sex drive
Let’s just say that testosterone is what makes men, well, men from their facial hair to their large muscles. Not surprisingly, women who want to transition into men take testosterone supplements and injections for this purpose.
Testosterone levels in men usually get to peak levels from adolescence to early adulthood. But these decline with age, approximately 1% per year after you hit your 30s and 40s. Men, however, don’t consider testosterone therapy until they hit their 50s and 60s.
Testosterone in Male Aging
In case your doctor determines that, indeed, your signs of aging are caused by low testosterone levels, then therapy may be necessary. But there are a few non-invasive tests that must be done first before starting on the therapy for safety reasons. While there are many over-the-counter testosterone supplements, doctors don’t recommend using them without medical consultation.
The signs of aging that may be related to declining levels of testosterone include:
- Changes in your sexual function from decreased libido and erections to infertility
- Disturbances in your sleep, even insomnia
- Changes in physical appearance including reduced muscle mass and strength, increased hair loss, and increased body fat (i.e., loss of six-pack abs)
- Changes in motivations and emotions, perhaps even depression and anxiety about the future
But before getting into a testosterone therapy program to cope with these changes, you and your doctor will discuss the possibility that these changes are caused by an underlying medical condition. You may have, for example, diabetes contributing to these health issues.
While we can understand the motivations among men who seek testosterone therapy, the importance of medical supervision cannot be overemphasized. Aging, after all, is a natural part of life and the sooner you can accept it, the better your approaches can be.