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AndroGel and testosterone insufficiency

What Men and Their Wives Don’t Know About Andropause

 By Dr. Gifford Jones

Has your husband become grumpy, sad, lacking in energy, falling asleep after dinner and finding less enjoyment in life? You may even have noticed that his pants are longer than they used to be. And that for the first time he’s having sexual problems. If so, he may be suffering from the male change of life, known as Andropause. And a wee dab of AndroGel may be all that he needs.

Dr. Jean Mailhot, Endocrinologist and Director of the Laval Andropause Center, says that one million Canadian men suffer from testosterone insufficiency. And that in the U.S. as few as five per cent of American men with low testosterone are being treated.

It’s not surprising. In 2002 a national survey showed that of Canadians over 35 years of age, only three per cent could name andropause. Seven out of 10 were unable to identify any adverse effects of low testosterone levels. And the majority over 35 believed that loss of sexual desire was a normal part of aging.

The survey also found that 80 per cent of Canadians were unaware that low testosterone levels can also cause osteoporosis (brittle bones) in men. That’s why the pants get too long. The spinal column shortens.

Today one in eight men over age 50 have osteoporosis and it’s why 20 to 30 per cent of osteoporotic fractures occur in men. Moreover, elderly men account for 35 per cent of hip fractures and are more likely to die from them than women.

The male andropause is not as dramatic as the female menopause. But after 30, men begin to lose one per cent of their testosterone every year. Although a decline in testosterone occurs in all men as they age there’s no way of predicting which males will experience symptoms of sufficient severity to require treatment.

Should andropause be suspected, a blood test will help in the diagnosis. This should be done early in the morning, as testosterone levels are usually highest at this time.

So what can be done to counteract the emotional and physical changes of andropause? During an interview with Dr Mailhot, he suggested “men must realize that these negative mood changes, fatigue and loss of sexual drive do not have to be accepted as a normal sign of aging. Rather, it’s a medical condition that can be successfully treated.”

Dr Mailhot says, “AndroGel helps to bring back a man’s vitality”. And that “clinical studies show that it triggers improvements in mood energy levels, muscle strength, bone density and increases sexual desire in men with low levels of testosterone.”

AndroGel is the same type of testosterone that’s naturally produced in the body. It’s a clear, colourless, fragrant-free gel that’s applied once daily to the shoulders, upper arms or abdomen. The gel dries rapidly during which time the skin absorbs the testosterone. It’s an easy to use treatment and saves men from painful injections. And it quickly restores and maintains normal levels of testosterone.

Men with prostate or breast cancer should not use Androgel. In the past there has been concern that elderly men using testosterone may be at increased risk of developing prostate cancer. But in January 2004, a report in the New England Journal of Medicine says that “despite decades of research, there is no compelling evidence that testosterone plays a causative role in prostate cancer.”

With so much talk about erectile dysfunction (ED), men and their partners may be confused about whether low testosterone and ED are the same thing. It’s a bit of a gray area. But the main distinction is that men with low testosterone have decreased sexual interest along with symptoms such as fatigue and depression whereas men with ED have trouble getting and maintaining an erection.

Some men with low testosterone and ED require treatment with both AndroGel and an ED drug. But studies show that a significant number of men treated with ED drugs and testosterone can go off the ED drug within six to 12 months.

Today with an aging population more men will suffer from andropausal problems. But this trouble will remain largely untreated until males outgrow the need for a macho image. And until their partners gracefully encourage them to seek treatment.

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Dr. Gifford Jones  Bio
Dr. Gifford Jones Most recent columns

W. Gifford-Jones M.D is the pen name of Dr. Ken Walker graduate of The Harvard Medical School. He’s been a ship’s surgeon, hotel physician and family doctor and later trained in surgery at McGill in Montreal, University of Rochester N.Y. and Harvard. His medical column is published by 60 Canadian newspapers and several in the U.S. He is the author of seven books. Dr. Walker has a medical practice in Toronto. His Web site is: http://www.mydoctor.ca/gifford-jones

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