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While hormone therapy for middle-age
women is becoming more widely used, hormone therapy for the middle-age man
is a relative newcomer.
There are researchers who believe that
testosterone boosters are a good counter to symptoms of "male
As they age, men typically produce less
testosterone, the hormone primarily responsible for characteristics such
as hair growth and sex drive. However, the decline in testosterone
production usually is not as great as many think: Two-thirds of men over
65 produce as much or more testosterone than healthy 20-year-olds.
Health problems such as cancer, heart disease or diabetes and drinking
or smoking also cut testosterone levels.
For some men, however, testosterone
pills, injections or patches can make a difference.
"When I treat these men with
testosterone, their erections get a little bit better, their sex drive
is better, they do feel better," says urologist Allen Seftel of
Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
Testosterone treatments are not without
risks. Too much testosterone is a risk factor for benign prostate
enlargement and prostate cancer, two problems that afflict millions of
"It may well be that the lowered
testosterone one sees with aging is a self-protective event,"
Seftel says. "The body may be protecting against enlarged prostate
by dropping down in testosterone production."
Hormone expert Jerald Bain of the
University of Toronto is starting a study to determine whether
testosterone treatment can have an impact on what he calls "andropause"
- the wide range of symptoms often seen in middle-age men.
"Symptoms may include weakness,
lethargy, fatigue, sexual dysfunction, uncertainty about life and
meaning-of-life issues (like) 'should I continue with my girlfriend who
provides wild sex or with my wife who provides a stable home?' All of
these issues arise," Bain says.
His study will follow 100 men for two
months to see whether hormone treatment makes a difference compared with
By USA TODAY