Aging and Testosterone

Overview

The Cleveland Clinic characterizes testosterone as a hormone that’s predominately responsible for male sexual characteristics and fertility. But these aren’t the sole bodily needs for this androgen. Mood, muscle mass, red blood cells and bone density are all dependent on testosterone, and as this hormone depletes with age, it can greatly affect any one of these factors, which can impact your overall health.

Average Decline

Both the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic agree that your testosterone level experiences a steady decline after age 30. It decreases by approximately 1 percent each year. This can translate into significantly lower hormone levels than at its peak during your adolescence or early adulthood and can bring with it some fairly undesirable symptoms.

Symptoms

While not all men notice this decline in testosterone, it can impact your life in a number of different ways. For some men, the decrease in testosterone changes erectile function, libido, fertility and energy, according to the Mayo Clinic. Others experience a decrease in muscle mass and a subsequent increase in body fat. The loss of testosterone may even lead to hair loss, depression, hot flashes and a loss in bone density.

Significance

The National Institutes of Health explains that the loss of muscle mass and bone density, coupled with the change in red blood cell production, can greatly impact your life. Not only can it lead to frailty, but also an increased risk of bone fractures, mobility issues and serious medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. Lowered hormone levels can even shorten your lifespan.

Treatment

To combat the effects of a decline in hormones, Reuters Health recommends leading a healthy lifestyle. By maintaining a health weight, well-balanced diet and regular exercise, you can reduce the risk of frailty caused by low testosterone. It can also reduce the potential for heart disease and adult-onset diabetes.

Hormone Therapy

Much like women going through menopause, hormone therapy is available to regulate hormone levels in men experiencing a decline in androgens. However, the Mayo Clinic cautions that results are mixed. The idea behind hormone therapy in men is that the increase in testosterone combats the effects of its decline, allowing you to feel more vital and youthful than before. As of 2010, studies are either limited or too small to actually make a definitive judgment on hormone therapy’s efficacy and long-term safety.

Side Effects

Testosterone therapy can lead to adult acne, sleep apnea, breast enlargement, testicle shrinkage and even heart disease, notes the Mayo Clinic. The Cleveland Clinic takes this warning one step further, stating that supplemental testosterone can lead to an enlarged prostate, which can cause urination dysfunction, among other problems. Testosterone is also known to affect cholesterol levels.

About this Author

Dana George has been a freelance writer since 2005, penning numerous articles, Web content and marketing collateral for both print and online. His articles have appeared in Healthy Knowledge magazine, Minneapolis Metro Mix and Meefers. His writing credits include Prime Arthur, A Good Ten Acres and Truth in History.