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It's time we talked about testosterone ; Men, did you think that a waning sex drive and low energy levels are just part of getting old? They could be...

Newcastle Evening Chronicle (England)


It's time we talked about testosterone ; Men, did you think that a waning sex drive and low energy levels are just part of getting old? They could be symptoms of a - very treatable - health condition. NEL STAVELEY finds out more

NEARLY half of British men (49%) would rather tackle the mindnumbing hell of filling in a tax return form than talk about a sensitive health issue like loss of libido, according to a recent survey.

A further 23% said they'd rather have a root canal.

It's hardly surprising, really. At the risk of stereotyping, it's generally known that men are not very good at talking about their feelings, admitting they're not 'manly' enough, or going to the doctor.

"Men can be reluctant to talk about sensitive issues," Dr Christian Jessen from Channel Four's Embarrassing Bodies.

Specifically here, he's talking about the 'issue' of testosterone deficiency syndrome (TDS). Singer Robbie Williams revealed he was having twice weekly testosterone injections in 2011 after a doctor told him he had the testosterone levels of a 100-year-old.

Not sure what TDS is? Well exactly; that's because no one's talking about it. Let's change that...

WHAT IS TDS? TESTOSTERONE deficiency syndrome is when the level of testosterone drops to an unusually low level, or stops being produced altogether and symptoms occur.

Signs of TDS are often subtle and can be mistaken as a part of ageing.

WHY DOES TESTOSTERONE MATTER? IT'S required by all men for a healthy life, physically and psychologically, and as well as the more well-known job of stimulating sperm production and sex drive, testosterone is also crucial for the development of muscle and bone mass.

SO WHO GETS TDS? "TESTOSTERONE deficiency syndrome affects 8% of men aged between 50 and 79 years old," says Dr Christian. That equates to over 700,000 men, but many of them will mistake the symptoms as just a side-effect of getting old.

"What a lot of people don't realise is that it's not just a part of the ageing process and it can be treated, so visiting your GP is really important," says Dr Christian.

He adds that men over 45 with diabetes or metabolic syndrome have higher odds of getting TDS, and other risk factors include obesity and excessive alcohol consumption.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS? "THERE are various signs and symptoms," explains Dr Christian.

"But the symptoms that can often cause concern are a loss of sex drive and loss of morning erections."

Here's what to look out for: Low libido; Erectile dysfunction; Ejaculatory dysfunction; Reduced muscle mass and weakness; Fatigue; reduced wellbeing; Putting on weight; Depression; Loss of concentration; Hot flushes and sweats; Reduced body hair, and Irritability SHOULD YOU GO TO THE DOCTOR? YES, you should. "TDS is a serious health issue that can cause wider problems if left untreated," stresses Dr Christian.

"So it's important that men do talk about it and realise that they're not alone, and that with the right treatment, including changes to lifestyle, it can be managed."

HOW IS TDS DIAGNOSED? A GP or specialist will look at a patient's history, give a clinical examination and a questionnaire, plus blood tests to measure testosterone levels.

HOW WILL IT BE TREATED? THERE are many treatment options available, mainly including changes to diet and lifestyle (like losing weight and drinking less if necessary).

TESTOSTERONE replacement therapy options are also available.

F For more information on TDS, visit

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