How important are testosterone levels for men

Testosterone in Older Men

What is testosterone?

Testosterone is mainly produced in the testes and influences many processes in the body:

  • the development of the male reproductive organs such as testicles and penis

  • the typical male physique with stronger muscles, deep voice and beard

  • the formation of the sperm

  • the sexual interest

Testosterone Levels in Old Age

From the age of 30, testosterone production in men slowly but steadily decreases. This is normal and not a cause for concern. You usually don't feel anything. However, the following signs are ascribed to "low" testosterone:

  • Lack of drive

  • less muscle strength

  • sexual desire decreases, erectile dysfunction

  • Hot flashes

  • bone density decreases (osteoporosis)

These signs are imprecise. They can also be the result of stress or natural aging as well as indicate other illnesses. It is often not easy to distinguish between them. Such symptoms can also occur with normal testosterone levels. There are special questionnaires to better clarify the signs.

Determine the testosterone value

The testosterone value is determined from the blood and given in nanomoles per liter (abbreviation: nmol / l). Many things affect him:

  • The value varies from man to man.

  • It changes over the course of the day. For example, it is higher in the morning than in the afternoon.

  • It depends on the age.

  • The value can vary from laboratory to laboratory.

  • For example, it can be reduced in the case of: lack of sleep, liver damage, severe malnutrition, doping or the use of drugs.

In these circumstances, it is difficult to pinpoint a range where testosterone levels are normal. A value between about 10 and 40 nmol / l can serve as a guide. The measured testosterone value alone must not be the basis for treatment.

Testosterone Deficiency as a Disease

Rarely, in boys and younger men, serious illnesses can lead to the body producing too little testosterone. Either sexual maturity continues (puberty) not one or the masculine characteristics recede again. To replace the hormone in the body, those affected are given testosterone drugs in the form of gels, patches or injections.

Testosterone drugs in old age: benefits and harm

Testosterone drugs were originally developed to treat testosterone deficiency disorders. In the meantime, they are also often used in older people with "low" testosterone values, without any underlying symptoms or illness. The reason for this is that testosterone drugs are being advertised more and more. Manufacturers promise more youthfulness, virility and a better and longer life.

Researchers have evaluated the existing studies on this question. In summary, they state for testosterone drugs:

  • They don't prolong life.

  • They do not, or only rarely, improve sexuality.

  • They do not improve physical fitness.

  • They do not improve health in old age.

  • There are conflicting results on cardiovascular damage: some indicate an increased risk of heart attacks and vascular damage, others observe no difference.

  • There is no evidence that these improve blood sugar, weight or physical condition in older men with diabetes or "metabolic syndrome" (increased blood sugar, lipids and / or pressure, obesity).

Side effects of testosterone are: thickening of the blood with a risk of thrombosis, increased blood lipids, headaches, prostate problems, breast swelling, mood swings and high blood pressure.

What you can do yourself

  • Make yourself aware that the body produces less testosterone as you get older. That is normal. There is no such thing as "menopause in men".

  • As long as you have no symptoms, do not have your testosterone level examined specifically.

  • Even if your testosterone levels are low, a testosterone supplement is unlikely to be of any use. It is not a lifestyle drug that brings back youthfulness and masculinity.

  • If you have severe symptoms and a low testosterone level, you can discuss with your doctor whether testosterone medications might be an option.

  • If you find your sex life impaired, speak to your doctor. There are several ways we can help you.

  • You can counteract some ailments well through sport and exercise.

  • Try to live a healthy lifestyle. In addition to exercise, this includes a balanced diet, a healthy body weight, abstinence from smoking and little alcohol.

January 2017, published by the German Medical Association and the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians