Adulthood & Andropause
Right after puberty, testosterone levels can be as high as 900ng/dl. But this typically drops to 600-700ng/dl when men are in their 20s and then decrease slowly over time. This decrease is usually gradual and by age 65 levels have usually only fallen to 500-600ng/dl. This allows for fairly consistent sexual function and maintenance of male sexual characteristics throughout a man’s life.
After puberty is complete there’s a leveling off of sexual development. The penis stops growing in size as do the testicles (in fact, the testicles may actually decrease in size as a man ages). Many men continue to get more body hair (spreading, thickening, lengthening) as the years march on. Unwanted hair can also start popping up in the ears, nose, back, shoulders, etc. Some men have progressive hair loss and baldness. These continued changes in hair growth (and loss) are all evidence of the persistent stimulation of hair follicles over time by the hormone DHT that is produced by men throughout life.
The prostate also continues to grow under the influence of DHT. At around age 60 many men are noticing urinary symptoms such as urgently needing to urinate and having a weak stream of urine. These symptoms indicate a condition called BPH which affects most men as they age (to learn more, click HERE).
Sperm production is maintained throughout a man’s adult life as well, with men in their 80s still producing some sperm. Although fertility declines with age, it doesn’t come to an abrupt halt as it does in women. As stated previously, testosterone gradually falls making it more difficult for a 40-year-old to put on muscle compared to a 20-year-old or teenager. For sexually inactive men, wet dreams may decrease in frequency and may eventually cease as production of semen decreases.
However, not all men are able to maintain testosterone production throughout life, and for some the decrease in testosterone levels can be more rapid. Andropause is the term often applied to the phase of life when men begin to notice some of the symptoms of lowering testosterone. Even though this may often occur to men in their 70s, a drop in testosterone can also occur in middle-aged men and even men in their 30s and 40s.
Symptoms of low testosterone can include the following:
Lack of energy/motivation
Decreases in muscle mass
Decreased libido (desire for sex) and/or erectile dysfunction (especially a lack of nocturnal erections as these are triggered by testosterone levels).
For men who are low in testosterone there are two main treatment methods which a healthcare professional may recommend – nutritional and lifestyle changes or testosterone replacement. Click HERE to learn more.
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