In order to discuss the biochemical diagnosis of hypogonadism it is necessary to outline the usual carriage of testosterone in the blood. Total serum testosterone consists of free testosterone (2%–3%), testosterone bound to sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) (45%) and testosterone bound to other proteins (mainly albumin −50%) (Dunn et al 1981). Testosterone binds only loosely to albumin and so this testosterone as well as free testosterone is available to tissues and is termed bioavailable testosterone. Testosterone bound to SHBG is tightly bound and is biologically inactive. Bioavailable and free testosterone are known to correlate better than total testosterone with clinical sequelae of androgenization such as bone mineral density and muscle strength (Khosla et al 1998; Roy et al 2002). There is diurnal variation in serum testosterone levels with peak levels seen in the morning following sleep, which can be maintained into the seventh decade (Diver et al 2003). Samples should always be taken in the morning before 11 am to allow for standardization.
The reasons for considering such therapy become evident from the many associations, indicated above, that reduced testosterone has with a variety of both physiological functions (bone metabolism, muscle mass, cognitive function, libido, erectile function) and pathophysiological states (metabolic syndrome, diabetes mellitus, obesity, insulin resistance, autoimmune disease). Although a definitive long-term, large scale placebo-controlled double-blind study of testosterone therapy in the aging male has not yet been carried out, multiple shorter-term trials have suggested improvement by testosterone with a resultant enhancement of muscle mass, bone density, libido, erectile function, mood, motivation and general sense of well-being.
Testosterone is considered to be the "male hormone" that's produced in men by the testes. Although women's ovaries produce some testosterone, the hormone is produced in much higher concentrations in men and it is responsible for many of the secondary sex characteristics seen in men such as a deeper voice and hair on the chest, in addition to contributing to a healthy libido, building muscle mass, and maintaining energy levels.
Testosterone is an important hormone for both men and women. Even though it’s often associated with a man’s libido, testosterone occurs in both sexes from birth. In females, it plays a part in sexual drive, energy, and physical strength. In males, it stimulates the beginning of sexual development and helps maintain a man’s health throughout his life.
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Changes in body composition are seen with aging. In general terms, aging males are prone to loss of muscle mass and a gain in fat mass, especially in the form of visceral or central fat. An epidemiological study of community dwelling men aged between 24 and 85 years has confirmed that total and free testosterone levels are inversely correlated with waist circumference and that testosterone levels are specifically related to this measure of central obesity rather than general obesity (Svartberg, von Muhlen, Sundsfjord et al 2004). Prospective studies show that testosterone levels predict future development of central obesity (Khaw and Barrett-Connor 1992; Tsai et al 2000). Reductions in free testosterone also correlate with age related declines in fat free mass (muscle mass) and muscle strength (Baumgartner et al 1999; Roy et al 2002). Studies in hypogonadal men confirm an increase in fat mass and decrease in fat free mass versus comparable eugonadal men (Katznelson et al 1998). Taken together, the epidemiological data suggest that a hypogonadal state promotes loss of muscle mass and a gain in fat mass, particularly visceral fat and therefore mimics the changes of ‘normal’ aging.
There is an increased incidence of hypogonadism in men with rheumatoid arthritis. Tengstrand et al (2002) studied hormonal levels in 104 men with rheumatoid arthritis and 99 age-matched healthy men. They divided their subjects into 3 age groups: 30–49, 40–59, 60–69. Mean non-sex hormone binding globulin-bound testosterone (bioavailable testosterone) was lower in men with rheumatoid arthritis for each of the three groups. LH was also found to be lower in the patients with rheumatoid arthritis suggesting a hypothalamic-pituitary cause of the reduced bioavailable testosterone. Of the 104 men with rheumatoid arthritis, 33 had hypogonadism compared to 7 of the 99 healthy controls.
Because of inconclusive or conflicting results of testosterone treatment studies reported in the literature, Rabkin and colleagues (2004) undertook a comparison study among testosterone, the anti-depressant, fluoxetine, and placebo in eugonadal HIV positive men. They found that neither fluoxetine nor testosterone were different from placebo in reducing depression, but that testosterone did have a statistically significant effect in reducing fatigue. It is note-worthy that fatigue was reduced with testosterone treatment even though virtually all the men in the study had testosterone levels within the reference range.
If a young man's low testosterone is a problem for a couple trying to get pregnant, gonadotropin injections may be an option in some cases. These are hormones that signal the body to produce more testosterone. This may increase the sperm count. Hedges also describes implantable testosterone pellets, a relatively new form of treatment in which several pellets are placed under the skin of the buttocks, where they release testosterone over the course of about three to four months. Injections and nasal gels may be other options for some men.
A loophole in FDA regulations allows pharmaceutical marketers to urge men to talk to their doctors if they have certain "possible signs" of testosterone deficiency. "Virtually everybody asks about this now because the direct-to-consumer marketing is so aggressive," says Dr. Michael O'Leary, a urologist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. "Tons of men who would never have asked me about it before started to do so when they saw ads that say 'Do you feel tired?'"
Binge drinking on the other hand does impact Testosterone levels – especially on a short term basis. Two studies (22 & 23) show that large acute quantities of alcohol consumption in a short period led to decreases in Testosterone levels by a whooping 20-23% after 24hours! Note however this is drinking to extreme excess! Likewise, chronic alcohol abuse is known to reduce testosterone more notably (as seen in alcoholics).
Spinach/Spring Salad Mix. This was the base of my salad. I used Organic Girl Greens from Whole Foods. Yeah, I know. The base of my Man Salad came from a company called Organic Girl. Spinach and other leafy green vegetables contain minerals like magnesium and zinc, which have been shown to aid in testosterone production (study on magnesium, and another; study on zinc)