Around one in 20 men over the age of 40 have low levels of testosterone – but it isn’t being talked about.
Because of limited social understandings of gender, testosterone has become so intrinsically wrapped up with the concept of ‘masculinity’ that there is shame attached if you don’t have enough of the stuff in your body.
Which is ridiculous. Testosterone is just a hormone, nothing more. It is the primary sex hormone in men and testosterone deficiency (TD) can cause a whole range of problems – so it’s important that men are able to talk about this common health issue and help remove the stigma.
Peter* began experiencing symptoms in his early 40s. He was constantly lethargic, with physical tiredness and mental fatigue.
Peter has a high powered job in the city and enjoys doing martial arts in his spare time, but he started to feel as if he no longer wanted to take part because of a sudden lack of willpower.
He began to feel like a stranger in his job and was less engaged with the work than before leaving him feeling lonely and isolated and ‘like a fraud.’ He also felt the symptoms of TD had an impact on his marriage, as his low mood and lack of willpower put a strain on his relationship.
‘I found it increasingly difficult to concentrate and even the simplest tasks like household chores, seemed like insurmountable problems,’ says Peter.
‘No amount of rest or sleep seemed to help and changes in my diet had no effect. I would eat constantly to try to gain energy and so began to put on extra weight.’
The consensus from different doctors he consulted was that he was healthy in all other respects, so stress might be the underlying cause. Peter was told to focus on stress management techniques and dietary control.
Doctors also recommended different diets, for example more magnesium, but nothing he tried had any impact on his persistent symptoms.
‘Whilst I certainly did have a stressful job, I was not convinced that was the issues, and I resigned myself to my condition,’ Peter tells us.
‘I looked on in envy at friends and colleagues who would spend their weekends doing fun things, hobbies and sports, while I would be in zombie-mode doing very little and desperately trying to recharge my batteries before the working week began again.’
Some professionals even suggested that his symptoms were simply the sign of Peter being an ‘introvert,’ but that didn’t explain the recent onset of his condition.
Stranger still, Peter’s son James* was experiencing similar symptoms and had previously been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. However, he had started to research around the subject of testosterone.
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