Not only libido, but also muscle loss and fat gain, as well as fatigue and depression … Studies show an increased risk of dementia and diabetes
[일요신문] Male menopause needs the same attention as female menopause. Many urologists emphasize their awareness of low testosterone levels, one of the characteristics of male menopause. This is because a lack of the sex hormone testosterone has a negative impact on men’s health in general. Decreased libido or muscle mass, as well as fatigue, weight gain, diabetes, dementia, depression, etc. increase the probability. Discover the potential dangers of testosterone deficiency, which has left millions of men suffering in silence.
According to the Mayo Clinic, testosterone, called the male sex hormone because it is mainly produced in the testicles of men, helps maintain bone density, body fat distribution, muscle mass, facial and body hair, libido, and sperm production. About 12% of men in their 50s, about 19% of men in their 60s, about 28% of men in their 70s, and about 49% of men in their 80s report having low testosterone levels.
Testosterone levels in men are usually highest around the age of 20, maintain a certain concentration until the age of 40, and then gradually decrease with age. It is also known that from the middle of the 30s, it decreases by at least 1% every year due to aging. nonetheless, regardless of age, it is also true that periodic observation is necessary because the levels may appear low even at a young age. Studies even show that people with low testosterone are five times more likely to die at a relatively young age.
In response, the British Society of Sexual Medicine argued that “the problem of testosterone deficiency has been neglected for too long.” Although it has a significant effect on health, there has been a lack of related research or awareness. What are the health warning signs that experts say are missing from male hormones?
“Testosterone is a big driver of libido,” said Dr. Helen L. Bernie, director of the Institute for Men’s Sexual and Reproductive Health at Indiana University. In other words, low testosterone levels mean less sexual interest and less interest in masturbation. The actual loss of libido is one of the most common symptoms of low testosterone.
This is because the androgen receptor that testosterone binds to is present in the region of the brain that processes desire. Therefore, when testosterone is low, signals that signal sexual stimulation do not occur.
“Men need testosterone to get an erection,” said Dr. Bunny. In addition, to maintain an erection, blood flow to the male part must increase, which also requires testosterone. This is because there are receptors (corpora corpus cavernosum) in the erectile tissue inside the male part. A lack of testosterone can also make drugs like Viagra less effective.
#reduce muscle mass
Testosterone is known to promote muscle growth and prevent body fat gain. Therefore, when testosterone levels are low, muscle mass also begins to decrease. In a related Japanese study, men with low concentrations of ‘free testosterone’, a hormone that does not bind to the receptor, were two to three times more likely to lose muscle and age than men with normal levels. This is because pure muscle, like lean meat, is replaced with adipose tissue. Therefore, in order to replenish the muscle mass lost with age, it is necessary to do strength training regularly.
#increase belly fat
Increased fat, especially around the belly, could be a sign of low testosterone, Dr. Nazari said. A study on obese men found that low levels of testosterone lead to fat accumulation, especially in the abdomen. “One of the most common reasons for lower testosterone levels with age is an increase in the amount of fat tissue that breaks down testosterone,” explains Dr. Nazari.
Fat cells also produce aromatase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen. Estrogen causes more fat to accumulate in the abdomen as well as the chest, hips and thighs.
Some studies claim that there may be a link between testosterone deficiency and depression. In 2018, German researchers reviewed 27 clinical trials to see if testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) could alleviate symptoms of depression. Comprehensive observation of nearly 2,000 men, the report concluded that men who received testosterone had “noticeable” improvement in symptoms of depression compared to those who did not receive hormone therapy or those who received a placebo.
In this regard, experts speculate that testosterone increases the secretion of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for feeling delighted. So in the end, low testosterone can lead to depression.
Dr. Bobby Nazari, a urologist at New York University Langone, also argued that low testosterone can make you feel depressed. nonetheless, he added, “more research is needed to understand these correlations in detail.” Besides the actual lack of testosterone, other factors can also trigger depression. For example, sleep deprivation or thyroid dysfunction.
Testosterone is a daytime hormone. That is, levels are highest in the morning and tend to decrease gradually throughout the day. “Testosterone is a great driver of motivation and energy,” explains Dr. Birney, helping to keep you energized. Thus, men with low testosterone levels are more likely to feel fatigued than men with normal levels, and men with chronically low testosterone levels may also suffer from chronic fatigue due to reduced energy levels.
#reduce bone density
“Estrogen plays an important role in maintaining bone health in both men and women,” said Dr. Nazari. Men with low testosterone levels also have low estrogen levels. This is because in men, testosterone is converted into estrogen in the body.
A lack of estrogen results in osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become weak or brittle. At first, there may be no symptoms, but as it progresses, back pain, bent posture, and fractures may occur. It even makes the height smaller.
Some studies suggest that low levels of testosterone increase the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. According to a study published in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, men with low testosterone levels have a higher risk of dying from heart disease than men with normal levels. This may be because testosterone dilates the blood vessels in the heart.
nonetheless, Dr. Bernie said the link between testosterone and heart disease is still controversial among experts.
Testosterone is also related to insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body store sugar as energy and is secreted by the pancreas. “Insulin depends on testosterone, so there must be a certain amount of testosterone in the body for insulin to be secreted properly,” said Dr. Bernie.
A 2016 study in the journal Diabetes Management also found that testosterone treatment improved insulin resistance in diabetics with low testosterone levels.
“Men with low testosterone levels are three times more likely to develop diabetes than men with normal levels,” said Professor Jeffrey Hackett, chief medical advisor at Ted Health, an online men’s health clinic. “If you develop diabetes, life expectancy is reduced by 10 years,” he added.
An Australian study that followed 1007 prediabetic men for two years reached similar conclusions. A study published last year in The Lancet found that people who regularly took testosterone injections were 40% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who did not.
Although the link between testosterone levels and diabetes is still being investigated, many studies have already suggested that insufficient testosterone increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by increasing visceral fat around the abdominal organs.
As well as type 2 diabetes, experts argue that low testosterone levels can increase the risk of dementia in the elderly. An example is the results of Australian researchers published last year in the Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. About 150,000 men, with an average age of 50 to 73 years, were followed for seven years, and 826 of them developed dementia during the study. And in the process, researchers found that a decrease in testosterone levels was related to the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s.
American professor of geriatrics, Dr. John Morley, who participated in a 2010 study led by Dr. Leung-Wing Chu, head of the department of geriatrics at Queen Mary Hospital, University of Hong Kong, also stated, “Testosterone deficiency in hormone. increases the chance of developing Alzheimer’s.” This study was conducted on 153 Chinese men over the age of 55 without symptoms of dementia, 47 of whom had problems such as mild cognitive impairment or memory loss.
And among them, the analysis of tissue samples from men who had Alzheimer’s in one year confirmed that the testosterone levels have decreased. “This was a very interesting study because it found that low testosterone levels are one of the risk factors for Alzheimer’s,” Morley said.
Experts argue that men’s brains require sufficient levels of testosterone to function healthily, and low levels of testosterone can accelerate neurodegeneration and reduce brain function.
Studies show that men over 40 with low testosterone levels are up to five times more likely to die at a relatively young age. According to a 2006 University of Washington academic study that followed 850 veterans over the age of 40 for four years, veterans with low testosterone levels were 88 percent more likely to die prematurely.
Another study conducted in 2013, led by endocrinologists at the Robert Hague Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology in Barnsley, reached similar conclusions. Some experts have argued that low testosterone is more likely to worsen overall health, which also increases the risk of premature death.