Poor testosterone. For years it’s been taking the blame when aging men report lowered libidos and a harder time keeping the pounds off. Now T can give its public relations consultants a much-deserved vacation. A new study by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital reports that the real culprit in male menopause is estrogen, that little vixen of a hormone.
“A lot of things we think are due to testosterone deficiency are actually related to the estrogen deficiency that accompanies it,” Dr. Joel Finkelstein of Massachusetts General Hospital, an endocrinologist who led the study, told the Associated Press.
the real culprit in male menopause is estrogen,that little vixen of a hormone
Men convert some of their body’s supply of testosterone into estrogen, and levels of both hormones decline with age. But until the new study was released, doctors couldn’t tell which one was responsible when men complained about lower sex drive, diminished energy and trouble losing weight. It is unlikely the study will have any effect on prescriptions for the testosterone gels, patches and shots that many doctors use to combat hormone deficiency in men; the research explored only which hormones caused what conditions, and didn’t look at therapeutic results.
Despite concerns of possible harmful side effects, the percentage of American men over age 40 taking testosterone approximately tripled to nearly 3 percent of the population between 2001 and 2011, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Other ongoing studies, including one from the National Institute of Aging, are gauging whether hormone therapy can help older men stay stronger and healthier. Loss of testosterone typically happens more gradually in men than loss of estrogen in female menopause.
“This is a big public health issue,” Dr. Finkelstein said. “If the changes with aging are due to these things, then potentially replacing these hormones in men might ameliorate these changes.”
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