While the hormonal shifts of “manopause” may not be as dramatic as female menopause, this gradual decline in testosterone can negatively affect a man’s quality of life and, indirectly, his relationships if left untreated.
Low testosterone or male hypogonadism, commonly referred to as Low T, usually results in weight gain, fatigue and decreased libido. What most people don’t know is that it can also cause lapses in attention or memory. Doctors say men will often come to them and complain of ‘fuzzy’ thinking. That’s always a red flag that the problem may be hormonal.
Is it Low T?
Testosterone levels naturally begin to decline in men at about age 30.
Diagnosis is complicated by the fact that one of the symptoms–difficulty in getting or maintaining an erection–is often treated with erectile dysfunction medications and no testing is ever done, so other symptoms may be ignored.
Diagnosing low testosterone can also be tricky because the range of normal testosterone levels is so broad: 300 to 1,200 ng/dl (nanograms per deciliter). Physicians usually check for other causes before trying a testosterone treatment.
The first line of defense is to see if there’s an underlying cause, such as a disease that is causing the decrease in testosterone. It’s also important to know if the lack of testosterone production is related to the pituitary gland or the testicles. Then, additional testing needs to be done to rule out other causes, such as disease or infection.
When there’s no other underlying cause, and testing shows a low level of testosterone, appropriate treatments are simple to administer, including injections and gels or creams that can be rubbed onto the skin. Choosing the right treatment depends on which method best fits the man’s lifestyle.
Is it me?
Because low testosterone can affect both a man’s libido and his energy, it can also impact the quality of his marriage or other intimate partnership. It’s not unusual for the woman to be the one urging her husband to see a doctor, or even contacting the doctor on his behalf.
Many women who are worried their husband seems to have ‘changed,’ and are worried that he’s no longer interested in her will contact their husbands’ doctors. It’s not always about sex either. Sometimes they have quit doing activities they’ve always enjoyed, even if it’s as simple as taking a daily walk, because the husband is just too tired all the time.
Even if the cause is not low testosterone, it’s important that these symptoms be checked out to eliminate other possibilities, such as hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure or even depression.
We know that women are the driving force of most healthcare for men. If your husband clearly seems to have changed, it’s important to encourage him to go to his primary care physician at the very least. If he’s still not feeling like himself, it may be worthwhile to see a urologist or endocrinologist who specializes in hormonal issues, since a primary care physician may not have the expertise to recognize the problem.
Partnering for change
Partners can also help with one of the most crucial aspects of treating low testosterone: lifestyle changes. Because obesity and diabetes are common culprits in low testosterone, doctors will usually supplement treatment with a recommendation for a better diet and more exercise–both of which can be encouraged by a supportive partner.
In spite of what some Low T treatment commercials may lead you to believe, testosterone therapy is not a miracle drug that will magically help you lose weight and increase your sex drive. You have to make lifestyle changes and pay attention to your overall health, and that’s something that will be more effective if it’s a partnership.
4 symptoms of low testosterone
- Decreased libido
- Weight gain
- Lapses in memory or attention