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Healthy older men maintain healthy testosterone levels

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Researchers are somewhat surprised to find that as men age, testosterone levels don’t decline. Rather, poor health seems to be the culprit that spawns complaints of low libido and energy in men over age 40.

Findings from the Healthy Man Study, presented at the Endocrine Society's 93rd Annual Meeting in Boston, show healthy men maintain testosterone levels with aging. Symptoms of low sexual desire and energy linked to lower male hormone levels seem to come from illness. The study authors say it isn't dipping testosterone levels that robs men of optimal health as they grow older.

First findings from Healthy Man Study show testosterone doesn't decline with aging

The results are the first findings from the study, led by David Handelsman, MD, PhD, professor and director of the ANZAC Research Institute at the University of Sydney.

Handelsman says the study finding was a surprise. "Some researchers believe that an age-related testosterone deficiency contributes to the deteriorating health of older men and causes nonspecific symptoms, such as tiredness and loss of libido.”

Disease, not testosterone the cause of aging symptoms in men

Instead, the researchers found the opposite. Deteriorating health seems to be responsible for symptoms of low energy and loss of sexual desire reported by men with aging, which might be due to underlying disease, rather than declining testosterone.

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Men in the study who were in excellent health, with an average age of 60, were found to have normal levels of the male hormone.

The study included 325 men with no symptoms and who reported their health status and were symptom free.

According to Handelsman, "The modest decline in blood testosterone among older men, usually coupled with nonspecific symptoms, such as easy fatigue and low sexual desire, may be due to symptomatic disorders that accumulate during aging, including obesity and heart disease.”

Lower testosterone levels doesn't seem to be an inevitable part of the aging male process.

The investigation included 325 men in two study centers that recruited men over age 40, but average age of 60.

The study showed obesity in men accounted for clinically insignificant dips in testosterone over age 40.

The results, according to Dr. Handelsman, mean physicians don’t need to prescribe testosterone for men except for diseases of the testes or hormone producing pituitary gland. According to the Healthy Man Study, it seems men with low libido and fatigue, over age 40, can’t blame their symptoms on lower hormone levels, that doesn't seem to really happen as men age.

Updated January 26, 2014