Testosterone deficiency is diagnosed with a blood test. Because
production of the hormone varies throughout the day, it is best to do the test in the morning.
Fortunately, the condition is usually treatable. Several different testosterone preparations are available to overcome a deficiency, including injections, skin patches, and gels. Testosterone is a powerful substance and physicians caution that it must be administered under strict medical supervision. Possible side effects include increases in cholesterol and blood counts, unwanted body hair, acne, and fluid retention. Most of these are easily treatable.
For Charles Amos, the twice-a-month testosterone injections he gets have been a godsend. The results, he says, have been “dramatic.”
“I have the energy to do anything I need to do now,” he explains. “It’s great not being worn out all the time like I used to be.”
STEP FORWARD HE-MEN
You can’t stop the aging process, but you can take steps to naturally slow the decline in testosterone production that occurs with age. Here’s how:
• Watch your weight. Fat cells tend to exacerbate testosterone deficiency by converting the hormone to estrogen.
• Exercise regularly. Physical activity increases testosterone production.
• Quit smoking. The connection between tobacco use and male menopause is still uncertain, says Robert S. Tan, a physician specializing in geriatrics, andrology, and male health at the University of Texas, Houston. Some research shows an increase in testosterone in those who smoke, while another study noted that men who smoked 10 cigarettes a day for more than 20 years experienced a decline in androgen production five years earlier than nonsmokers. — R.M.