It has been assumed, for many years, that testosterone levels in men peak during the teen and early adult years, and then fall off by about 1% a year after age 30.
Or do they?
Testosterone is often associated with manhood, playing a major role in fertility and sexual prowess. It governs hair growth, red blood production, muscle and bone density and even emotional health. Scientists have some great news for mature men. Testosterone does not necessarily fall with age. It all comes down – once again – to health. A study done by the University of Adelaide on 1500 men between 35 and 80 found no significant difference in testosterone levels of healthy men. However, conditions such as obesity, depression and habits such as smoking did have a significant effect on the hormone. Evidence that testosterone is connected to well-being was also suggested by the fact men in a stable relationship had higher levels – this was thought to be not just because they got more sex, but because they were happier and healthier.
Another factor in the drop in testosterone levels was chemical exposure. Herbicides and statin drugs have been found to interfere with the testicles’ ability to produce testosterone.
This is one of the first studies that has followed the same group of men over time. The message for doctors is clear: a drop in testosterone in older men is not caused by ageing, but by diseases associated with ageing, which can be overcome and avoided.
“I’ve always suspected this,” said one woman. “My husband is just as uncommunicative and bad-tempered at 80 as he was at 30.”
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