Frustration instead of pleasure: Many men also struggle with physical and psychological changes in their midlife. A decrease in libido, erectile dysfunction or a decrease in energy: Such complaints are often attributed to menopause. This also involves the question of whether the administration of the sex hormone testosterone can help middle-aged men. However, studies have shown that the complaints mentioned are only conditionally related to the testosterone level in the blood. Experts therefore urge that the use of testosterone be carefully examined because it is not without its risks.
Men around the age of 50 are changing
Testosterone gradually decreases with age and men around the age of 50, causing physical and psychological changes. “Menopause, as we know it from women, does not occur in men,” explains Prof. Sabine Kliesch, Chief Physician for Clinical Andrology at the University Hospital of Münster. In women, there is an abrupt drop in female hormones in food. This is not the case with men.
Testosterone level drops by 1.2 percent annually
From around the age of 40, however, testosterone enanthate level in the man’s blood decreases by an estimated 1.2 percent annually, explains Kliesch from the German Society for Urology. The decrease is due to age-related decomposition in the testicles or in the brain regions that control the hormone balance. Testosterone is important for muscle formation, bone density and the formation of red blood cells as well as for the metabolism in fat tissue, sexual life and reproductive ability. “However, a drop in testosterone levels in the blood alone does not make a man ill,” stresses Kliesch.
Low testosterone levels can influence diseases
A European study several years ago investigated the relationship between thehormone and physical and mental complaints. Only three sexual symptoms, if any, were directly related to decreased testosterone levels. These include erectile dysfunction, less sexual desire and less frequent morning erections.
If the testosterone level falls below a certain level and diseases such as lipid metabolism disorders, obesity or diabetes are added, the doctors become aware, according to Kliesch. The hormone influences these ailments – which in turn affect testosterone levels. Then it might make sense to treat with testosterone.
Addition of testosterone harbours risks
“Before starting a therapy, it must be ruled out that a man has manifest prostate cancer or breast cancer,” says Prof. Wolfgang Weidner, President of the German Society of Andrology. The prostate must also be regularly examined and the proportion of red blood cells in the blood. “Testosterone stimulates haematopoiesis, and high levels of testosterone can lead to blood clots with a higher risk of heart attacks or strokes.
The psychologist Kurt Seikowski from the University of Leipzig is regularly asked by men whether the administration of testosterone could help them. For more than 30 years he has been dealing with complaints such as depression, sleep or concentration disorders in men. “Particularly when the boom came up with means such as Viagra, there was almost relief with men: We have medicines, can remain strong and do not have to think about our psyche”, criticizes the chairman of the society for sexual science.
Menopause in men: the “midlife crisis” really exists
Meanwhile, the men rather accepted that their performance decreases from the age of 40 and that they had to think about recovery breaks. And they questioned more whether they should take hormones or other preparations. In a small study, men between the ages of 48 and 55 in particular described a greatly reduced level of life satisfaction. “In the years afterwards they have adapted however mostly again , say Seikowski. The English expression “midlife crisis” is therefore still the most appropriate.
Testosterone is a male hormone that effectively plays an important role in many so-called male characteristics such as muscle mass, beard growth, bone density, competitiveness, libido, sperm production, aggression, and so on. From the age of 40, testosterone production decreases very gradually. Whether, and if so what role, this reduced testosterone production plays in these normal aging symptoms, such as less sex drive, less muscle mass and more fat mass, is very much open to question. It has also never been shown that the administration of testosterone can slow down ageing processes, let alone improve them. Moreover, there are reports that the administration of testosterone could increase the risk of prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease.