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Low Testosterone Level

The greater the outward similarity between the sexes, the greater is menís need for more than testosterone when being appraised as a mate.

Men need to be attractive mentally as well as physically, although the very rich or powerful can still play Don Juan, provided their testosterone levels are up to it.

Even so, men still need testosterone, the fuel for the reproductive male engine ó without it, they will lack sexual drive. A low testosterone level (also called Testosterone deficiency) is not only associated with a low sex drive and varying degrees of impotence but it also results in loss of energy, tiredness, diminishing enthusiasm and mental ability. Furthermore, a low testosterone level is associated with anemia and a greater liability to type 2 diabetes and its cardiovascular complications.

Recent research has shown that 20 per cent of men over 60 have a testosterone level below normal. The scientists considered that a serum testosterone level of less than 9.8 nanomoles was below normal.

Whatever a manís age, the percentage of circulating free testosterone that is in a form free to trigger a response in the testosterone receptors is alarmingly small. Most of the testosterone is bound to proteins, of which SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin) is the most important. Protein-bound testosterone is unavailable to give men their masculine characteristics. Unfortunately, although testosterone levels fall only by about a sixth between the ages of 25 and 60, their SHBG level almost doubles during the same period.

As a result, the greater a manís age the less the amount of useful testosterone is circulating. Little surprise, therefore, that the size of a 60-year-old Don Juanís girth has to be matched by that of his bank balance if he is to cut a dash on the beach.

The treatment of a low testosterone level requires experience, clinical acumen and a host of pathological tests. It was feared that testosterone boosting with hormone supplements would increase arterial and coronary heart disease rate. The reverse has proved to be the case.

The association between testosterone and age seems to be determined by the rate of decline in testosterone levels rather than the actual level reached. Hence the desirability of knowing a manís testosterone level at an earlier age. Another concern for doctors has been the effect of testosterone supplements on the risk of developing prostate cancer, which is associated with high testosterone levels. Great care is taken when assessing a man for male hormone replacement therapy (HRT) of his liability to prostate cancer.

Drew Voight

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