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: If a health insurance company is providing coverage for a medication, including testosterone replacement therapy, they determine the final cost of the product. Costs will vary from one health insurance plan to another. To determine the costs of the testosterone replacement options, the health insurance plan should be contacted. There are various options for testosterone replacement therapy including gels, injections, patches, and tablets that dissolve under the lip. All of the formulations can be effective and each has advantages and disadvantages. The most appropriate testosterone replacement therapy depends on a variety of factors, including cost, patient preference, and tolerability. Testosterone replacement gels, such as AndroGel and Testim, are very effective and easy to administer. AndroGel and Testim can be easily applied to the skin once daily. However, the gels can be irritating to the skin and AndroGel and Testim are typically quite expensive. Testosterone replacement injections, such as Depo-Testosterone (testosterone cypionate) and Delatestryl (testosterone enanthate), are usually inexpensive. The injections are given only once every one to two weeks. The major disadvantage with injectable testosterone is that testosterone levels may be difficult to control. Levels may be too high after an injection and too low before the following injection. A testosterone replacement patch, such as Androderm, is applied every night and left on for 24 hours. Androderm can be applied to the arm, back or stomach, in an area without too much hair. Androderm can cause irritation of the skin. A testosterone tablet, Striant, is placed under the upper lip against the gums and replaced every 12 hours. Striant molds to the upper gum so that eating and drinking can occur normally. The testosterone tablet can irritate the gums and cause a bitter taste and toothache. People with low testosterone should work with their doctor or healthcare provider to find a safe, effective, and affordable testosterone replacement option for them. For more specific information, consult with your doctor or pharmacist for guidance based on your health status and current medications, particularly before taking any action. Derek Dore, PharmD
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.
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In a recent study of male workers, men with low testosterone levels had an increased chance of severe erectile dysfunction (Kratzik et al 2005), although such a link had not been found previously (Rhoden et al 2002). Certainly erectile dysfunction is considered part of the clinical syndrome of hypogonadism, and questions regarding erectile dysfunction form part of the clinical assessment of patients with hypogonadism (Morley et al 2000; Moore et al 2004).
When you’re under stress (be it from lack of sleep, workplace stress, emotional stress, stress from a bad diet, overtraining etc.), your body releases cortisol. Cortisol blunts the effects of testosterone (47), which makes sense from an evolutionary point of view – if we were stressed as cavemen chances are it was a life or death situation – not running late to a meeting - in this state (i.e. running from a lion) the body wouldn’t care if you couldn’t get it up, there was more to worry about!
It doesn’t get more natural than getting a good night’s sleep. Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that lack of sleep can greatly reduce a healthy young man’s testosterone levels. That effect is clear after only one week of reduced sleep. Testosterone levels were particularly low between 2 and 10 p.m. on sleep-restricted days. Study participants also reported a decreased sense of wellbeing as their blood testosterone levels dropped.
Testosterone treatment is unequivocally needed in classical hypogonadism for reasons discussed in subsequent subsections. In classical hypogonadism, testosterone production is usually clearly below the lower limit of normal and patients are highly symptomatic; the various symptoms are easily related to the deficiencies in various bodily systems where testosterone action is important. Symptoms of testosterone deficiency are listed in Table 2. A few prominent causes of classical hypogonadism are listed in Table 3.
A number of epidemiological studies have found that bone mineral density in the aging male population is positively associated with endogenous androgen levels (Murphy et al 1993; Ongphiphadhanakul et al 1995; Rucker et al 2004). Testosterone levels in young men have been shown to correlate with bone size, indicating a role in determination of peak bone mass and protection from future osteoporosis (Lorentzon et al 2005). Male hypogonadism has been shown to be a risk factor for hip fracture (Jackson et al 1992) and a recent study showed a high prevalence of hypogonadism in a group of male patients with average age 75 years presenting with minimal trauma fractures compared to stroke victims who acted as controls (Leifke et al 2005). Estrogen is a well known determinant of bone density in women and some investigators have found serum estrogen to be a strong determinant of male bone density (Khosla et al 1998; Khosla et al 2001). Serum estrogen was also found to correlate better than testosterone with peak bone mass (Khosla et al 2001) but this is in contradiction of a more recent study showing a negative correlation of estrogen with peak bone size (Lorentzon et al 2005). Men with aromatase deficiency (Carani et al 1997) or defunctioning estrogen receptor mutations (Smith et al 1994) have been found to have abnormally low bone density despite normal or high testosterone levels which further emphasizes the important influence of estrogen on male bone density.
Another recent development is the production of adhesive tablets which are applied twice daily to the buccal mucosa on the gum above the incisor teeth. The tablets gradually release testosterone into the systemic venous circulation and steady state physiological concentrations are achieved in most patients within two days (Ross et al 2004). Some patients do not like the feeling of the tablet in the mouth or find that there is an abnormal taste in the mouth, but local adverse effects are usually mild and transient (Wang, Swerdloff et al 2004).
show that total testosterone levels increase after exercising, especially after resistance training. Low testosterone levels can affect your sex drive and your mood. The good news is that exercise improves mood and stimulates brain chemicals to help you feel happier and more confident. Exercise also boosts energy and endurance, and helps you to sleep better. Fitness experts recommend 30 minutes of exercise every day.
Insulin causes lower Testosterone levels, so go easy on the carbs and eat more protein right? Well you need to be careful with protein consumption – Excess protein without fat can also cause insulin spikes. So go easy on that chicken breast with a side of egg white omelets washed down with a protein shake. From an insulin point of view you may as well drink a can of soda with some aminos acid! So what should you do? Eat more fat.
As blood levels of testosterone increase, this feeds back to suppress the production of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone from the hypothalamus which, in turn, suppresses production of luteinising hormone by the pituitary gland. Levels of testosterone begin to fall as a result, so negative feedback decreases and the hypothalamus resumes secretion of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone.
"Some say it's just a part of aging, but that's a misconception," says Jason Hedges, MD, PhD, a urologist at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. A gradual decline in testosterone can't explain a near-total lack of interest in sex, for example. And for Hedges' patients who are in their 20s, 30s, and early 40s and having erectile problems, other health problems may be a bigger issue than aging.