The prevalence of biochemical testosterone deficiency increases with age. This is partly due to decreasing testosterone levels associated with illness or debility but there is also convincing epidemiological data to show that serum free and total testosterone levels also fall with normal aging (Harman et al 2001; Feldman et al 2002). The symptoms of aging include tiredness, lack of energy, reduced strength, frailty, loss of libido, decreased sexual performance depression and mood change. Men with hypogonadism experience similar symptoms. This raises the question of whether some symptoms of aging could be due to relative androgen deficiency. On the other hand, similarities between normal aging and the symptoms of mild androgen deficiency make the clinical diagnosis of hypogonadism in aging men more challenging.
A 2010 study published in the journal Hormones and Behavior first suggested this when researchers evaluated the “dual-hormone hypothesis” clinically. (11) They discovered that when cortisol is elevated, testosterone responds by elevating as well but soon after bottoms out at a much lower level than before cortisol kicked in! That means you want to find ways to relieve stress to keep your testosterone levels up.
In Australia, where it is illegal for drug makers to advertise directly to consumers—as it is everywhere except the United States and New Zealand— Dr. Vitry told me via e-mail that the country's FDA-like regulatory body, Medicines Australia, fined Bayer a minuscule, but symbolic, 10,000 Australian dollars for breaching MA's code of conduct in its TRT disease-awareness campaign. Although Bayer implied that low testosterone was the most prevalent cause of the symptoms described, and that there was a high incidence of low T, Vitry said Medicines Australia didn't nail Bayer for illegal direct-to-consumer advertising because its campaign "did not encourage patients to seek a prescription for a specific testosterone product."
Intramuscular testosterone injections were first used around fifty years ago. Commercially available preparations contain testosterone esters in an oily vehicle. Esterification is designed to retard the release of testosterone from the depot site into the blood because the half life of unmodified testosterone would be very short. For many years intramuscular preparations were the most commonly used testosterone therapy and this is still the case in some centers. Pain can occur at injection sites, but the injections are generally well tolerated and free of major side effects. Until recently, the available intramuscular injections were designed for use at a frequency of between weekly and once every four weeks. These preparations are the cheapest mode of testosterone treatment available, but often cause supraphysiological testosterone levels in the days immediately following injection and/or low trough levels prior to the next injection during which time the symptoms of hypogonadism may return (Nieschlag et al 1976). More recently, a commercial preparation of testosterone undecanoate for intramuscular injection has become available. This has a much longer half life and produces testosterone levels in the physiological range throughout each treatment cycle (Schubert et al 2004). The usual dose frequency is once every three months. This is much more convenient for patients but does not allow prompt cessation of treatment if a contraindication to testosterone develops. The most common example of this would be prostate cancer and it has therefore been suggested that shorter acting testosterone preparations should preferably used for treating older patients (Nieschlag et al 2005). Similar considerations apply to the use of subcutaneous implants which take the form of cylindrical pellets injected under the skin of the abdominal wall and steadily release testosterone to provide physiological testosterone levels for up to six months. Problems also include pellet extrusion and infection (Handelsman et al 1997).
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and is obtained from sunlight. In the active form, it acts as a steroid hormone in the body. These days many people suffer from vitamin D deficiency because lacking exposure to sunlight, but taking vitamin D supplements to improve the weakness. Low vitamin D levels also lower the testosterone levels, but with intake of vitamin D, the testosterone levels boost. In typical cases, vitamin D doesn’t show the significant result in testosterone levels but people who are vitamin D deficient shows an increase in testosterone levels.
Phthalates are found to cause poor testosterone synthesis by disrupting an enzyme required to create the male hormone. Women with high levels of DEHP and DBP (two types of phthalates) in their system during pregnancy were found to have sons that had feminine characteristics Phthalates are found in vinyl flooring, detergents, automotive plastics, soaps and shampoos, deodorants, perfumes, hair sprays, plastic bags and food packaging, among a long list of common products. Aside from phthalates, other chemicals that possess gender-bending traits are:
Remember that each person is unique, and each body responds differently to treatment. TT may help erectile function, low sex drive, bone marrow density, anemia, lean body mass, and/or symptoms of depression. However, there is no strong evidence that TT will help memory recall, measures of diabetes, energy, tiredness, lipid profiles, or quality of life.
Does the diminution that age brings with it in both total and bioavailable T have any clinical significance? This question leads us to the theme of this paper, “The Many Faces of Testosterone”. If testosterone were simply a “sex hormone” involved only with sexual desire and arousal we might tend to dismiss testosterone treatment in the aging man as merely a “life-style” therapy without any substantive basis for broad physiological necessity. The fact is, however, that the sexual attributes of testosterone are the least of its physiological necessities and that testosterone has a broad spectrum of demonstrated physiological functions as well as a wide variety of physiological and pathophysiological associations about which we are just learning.
According to British Medical Journal (BMJ), the European Male Ageing Study has provided the best estimate of the prevalence of low T—defined as a combination of sexual symptoms and measured testosterone level—finding that only 0.1 percent of men in their forties, 0.6 percent in their fifties, 3.2 percent in their sixties, and 5.1 percent of men in their seventies would meet the criteria for the diagnosis.
A 12-month study found that supplementing with around 3,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day increased testosterone levels by around 25%. In the elderly, vitamin D and calcium also optimized testosterone levels, which led to a reduced risk of falling. To boost testosterone and reap the other benefits of vitamin D, try to get regular exposure to sunlight or take around 3,000 IU of a vitamin D3 supplement daily.
Why the difference? The discrepancy in findings between these studies is likely due to the initial training status and base testosterone levels of the subjects. While more research is warranted on this ingredient, D-AA is one of several ingredients suggested to be effective in boosting test levels, especially for older men whose natural testosterone levels have declined due to the natural course of aging.
If you're completely inactive, or if you're completely burned out from overly intense training, neither one is going to help your T-levels. And when it comes to nutrition, eating enough—and getting adequate dietary fats—are both essential for healthy testosterone levels, and for general health. In "All About Testosterone," Chris Lockwood, Ph.D., notes that extreme low-calorie dieting and fasting will hinder testosterone levels from staying at their peak, along with better-known villains like chronic stress.
Hypogonadism (as well as age-related low testosterone) is diagnosed with blood tests that measure the level of testosterone in the body. The Endocrine Society recommends testing for suspected low T with a total testosterone test. It may be performed in the morning when testosterone levels tend to be highest in young men, although this isn't necessarily the case in older men. The test may be repeated on another day if the results show a low T level. (5)
"A lot of the symptoms are mirrored by other medical problems," Hedges says. "And for a long time, we were not attributing them to low testosterone, but to diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease. But awareness and appreciation of low testosterone has risen. We recognize now that low testosterone may be at the root of problems."