Symptoms of Low Testosterone
According to a national survey of Canadian men and their female partners, most couples have little awareness about the signs of low testosterone and associate the symptoms merely with old age. In fact, more than half are more likely to attribute them to a mid-life crisis, women notably more so than men (53%).
The survey, conducted by Leger Marketing, found that 70 per cent of respondents when given the list of symptoms for low testosterone were unable to name this medical condition, a hormonal insufficiency that leaves men feeling their age. Characterized predominantly by a reduced sex drive that may result in erectile difficulties, the symptoms of testosterone deficiency can include depressed mood; lack of energy; reduced muscle mass; and decreased bone density.
"While all men experience a decline in testosterone levels as they grow older, after the age of 45, ongoing emotional, physical and sexual symptoms may signal a testosterone insufficiency that makes daily activities challenging," said Dr. Jerald Bain, endocrinologist and president of the Canadian Society for the Study of the Aging Male. "Today, low testosterone is a medical condition that can be easily treated to restore testosterone levels and improve quality of life. If left untreated longer term, testosterone insufficiency has the potential to result in an increased risk for other health conditions such as anemia and osteoporosis."
Among the majority of couples surveyed (51%) said a decrease in the man's strength or endurance affected their day-to-day life, while falling asleep after dinner and a decrease in sex drive affected one-third (37% and 31% respectively). If the men were to have greater energy levels, both men and women agreed that they would most likely increase walking, hiking and sexual activities. Despite the implications, more than half said they have not seen a doctor to discuss any of these symptoms, although they would if they knew that their symptoms were part of a treatable condition. Less than 10 per cent of respondents said their doctor has ever discussed testosterone insufficiency with them.
Symptoms of Low Testosterone
Most couples do not recognize the full range of symptoms of low testosterone, and instead a single symptom may be addressed rather than the underlying medical condition. Notably, one-in-four men surveyed said they have taken some type of vitamin supplement or medication to help with energy levels, a factor identified as having an affect on their daily lives.
The Androgen Deficiency in Aging Men (ADAM) Questionnaire is a useful tool to help men identify symptoms of testosterone insufficiency and can act as a guide for discussion between men and their doctors. The 10-question self-screening tool can be found online at canadianagingmale.com . The range of treatment options for testosterone insufficiency include the AndroGel once-a-day 1 per cent testosterone gel pump dispenser or sachet, as well as multi-dose tablets, weekly injections by a physician, or a patch that is applied to the arm.
"Men, along with their partners, should speak to their doctor about all symptoms of low testosterone that persist over time to ensure an accurate diagnosis and the most effective treatment," said Dr. Bain, who presented at the first North American Congress on The Aging Male in Vancouver this past week. "Important health issues associated with male aging, such as the effects of low testosterone, are gaining fast recognition and increased attention from the medical community."