How lifestyle plays a role

How lifestyle plays a role

How lifestyle plays a role

Age-related decline in testosterone can significantly affect sexual function and physical characteristics in men as they age. PHOTO/COURTESY: CNN

Just like women, men undergo significant hormonal changes as they age, especially in their testosterone levels. Understanding the “male menopause” is key to maintaining health and vitality in the years to come.

The role of testosterone

Testosterone, which is vital for the development of male sexual characteristics, increases and then naturally decreases with age.

Testosterone production increases during puberty and may gradually increase until the age of 30. Levels may begin to decline at a rate of 1% per year after age 30.

By the age of 70, some men may experience a drop of up to 50% in their testosterone levels compared to when the numbers were at their peak.

Testosterone affects men and women differently because of its varying levels and gender roles.

In men, where it is a primary hormone, age-related decline significantly affects sexual function and physical characteristics.

Women, with naturally lower testosterone, experience milder effects from its decline as their bodies adjust to hormonal changes during life events such as menstruation and menopause.

Despite lower levels, testosterone in women is vital for bone health, muscle maintenance and energy.

Facing the reality of male menopause

Male menopause, or andropause, is not just a myth. About 2 in 10 men over age 60 suffer from low testosterone, according to the American Urological Association.

This number rises to 3 in 10 men in their 70s and 80s. Symptoms such as decreased libido, fatigue, mood changes, erectile dysfunction and physical changes can significantly affect quality of life.

Resolution on health checks

The new year is an ideal time for a health check. If you are over 40 and experiencing symptoms such as low energy or decreased sex drive, consider getting your testosterone levels checked.

Only about 5 percent of men with low testosterone receive treatment, according to a 2018 study from the New England Research Institutes.

This low number is mainly because most men do not get annual screenings, which leads to undertreatment and underdiagnosis of major health conditions.

Treatment for low testosterone, also known as testosterone replacement therapy, or TRT, aims to improve symptoms such as low libido, fatigue, and reduced muscle mass.

Topical gels and creams are applied to the skin, ensuring stable hormone levels, but require care to avoid skin-to-skin transfer.

Testosterone injections, given every few weeks, are effective but can cause fluctuations in hormone levels.

Patches provide a daily, fixed dose and are an alternative for those who prefer not to use gels or injections.

Testosterone pellets, implanted under the skin, offer a long-term solution, releasing steady doses over several months.

New oral testosterone drugs have also recently entered the market as an option for TRT.

Choosing the right type of TRT involves consideration of individual preferences, medical history, and lifestyle and should be discussed with a healthcare provider.

Medical supervision is crucial during TRT to adjust doses and monitor for potential side effects, which can include acne, sleep apnea, blood clots, and an increased risk of heart disease.

Men with a history of prostate or breast cancer are usually advised against TRT.

Beyond Hormones: What You Can Do

Treating low testosterone isn’t just about hormone therapy. Lifestyle plays a decisive role. Obesity has been linked to lower testosterone levels.

A 2015 review found that overweight men are more likely to suffer from low testosterone, and losing weight can increase testosterone levels.

Regular exercise, a balanced diet and good sleep are not only good for your body. These habits also help maintain healthy testosterone levels.

Embrace 2024 with a commitment not only to your fitness goals but also to a holistic approach to your wellness that can start with getting your hormone levels in check.

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