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Not the man you used to be?

"Suddenly, I'm not half the man I used to be..." If the words to that Beatles song make a lot more sense to you now than they did when you heard it as a teenager, there may be more to your newfound understanding than the wisdom of years.

As men get older, testosterone levels in the body gradually become lower than in the days of your youth, when you probably felt like you had the drive and energy to tackle just about anything that came your way. Testosterone is the hormone responsible for typically "male" characteristics such as deep voices, muscle mass, and facial and body hair patterns. A shortage can spell tiredness, low sex drive, loss of strength, increased body fat, and a slew of other effects that may make you feel old beyond your years. Because these symptoms appear slowly and are somewhat vague, a diagnosis of andropause can be easily missed.

Starting at the age of 30, men experience a drop in testosterone by about 10% every decade, while amounts of the hormone that are still being manufactured may not be as effective because of increased production of another hormone called SBHG. For some men, this decrease in testosterone results in a condition called andropause (or hypogonadism), which has a range of symptoms, including:

  • low sex drive
  • difficulties getting erections or erections that are not as strong as usual
  • lack of energy
  • depression
  • irritability and mood swings
  • loss of strength or muscle mass
  • increased body fat
  • hot flashes
  • restlessness and difficulty concentrating
  • generalized aches and pains

While many men think it's inevitable, feeling "down in the dumps" is not a necessary part of getting older. Although the exact number is not clear, it is estimated that about 25% of men in Canada in their 40s to 60s suffer from symptoms related to testosterone deficiency, but only about 5% are treated. Aside from the fact that that leaves a lot of men who simply aren't feeling as good as they should, it also puts a high number at risk for osteoporosis, or a weakening of the bones, and cardiovascular problems such as atherosclerosis and hardening of the arteries - both of which are conditions associated with low testosterone. Additional long-term effects of andropause include obesity, muscle loss, and erectile dysfunction.

But there's no reason for this condition to get so many men down! Doctors can easily diagnose low testosterone with a simple blood test, usually best performed in the morning. If levels come back low, further testing, including additional blood tests, semen analysis, or brain imaging may be required. Once low testosterone is diagnosed, there are a number of different treatment options.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2022. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

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