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What's the big deal about having low testosterone?

Jun 8, 2012, 8:19 a.m.

Many people, including some medical professionals, view low testosterone levels as having solely to do with sexual performance. In that respect, the importance of testosterone has been relegated to an issue of lower importance when looking at the overall picture of the aging man's health -- but is putting the issue of low testosterone levels on the back burner necessarily a good idea? Some medical experts say no.

While it is true that testosterone is primarily a hormone having to do with sexuality in males, just as estrogen is one of the primary hormones that instructs a woman's sexuality, this isn't the only area of health that can be impacted by low levels of either. For the aging male, low testosterone levels are thought to also have an impact in other areas that are more critical than sexual interest. These areas can include...

The ability to build muscle and maintain muscle strength, which is an important factor to fighting the effects of aging and to remaining active and agile.

The storing of body fat. Men with low levels of testosterone have a tendency to burn fat less easily, which can lead to obesity and the variety of health issues that can come as a result of being overweight later in life.

Bone density. As we grow older, our bones become less dense -- hence the concern among the senior population over the increased risk of bone fracture due to falls. Men with low testosterone are thought to lose bone density at a more rapid rate than those with high levels of testosterone.

Changing moods. If you think that moodiness as a result of hormones is something that only applies to females, think again. Men with low testosterone levels can also experience changing moods as a result of their body's hormonal changes.

Starting at the age of 35, men begin to experience dropping testosterone levels. By the time they hit their mid-40s, 40 percent of men have testosterone levels that are considered insufficient by medical professionals. If you're a male over the age of 45 and you're experiencing changes in mood and energy, talk to your doctor about having your testosterone levels checked.

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