There are certain things we accept as inevitable effects of ageing. Your hair goes grey, you start to thin out a little on top, and your waistline – like the inevitable creep of time – expands. But in recent years there’s been a noted growth in ‘old man strength’. We’re not simply talking about prime of their life 50-year-olds who are taking advantage of their gym memberships and frequent skiing holidays in Lenzerheide. Consider the 70-year-old who – instead of the gentle sag of inelastic skin over their body that we see as an inevitable consequence of age – boasts a rippling six pack and muscle definition most 30 year olds would kill for.
One such elderly Adonis has made quite a stir on both the bestseller lists and talk show circuit in America recently – his name is Dr Life. Beyond the obvious daily workouts and healthy eating lifestyle, he attributes his astonishing ability to body-build (well past the point most would expect it) to testosterone replacement therapy.
Men’s testosterone levels begin to drop naturally from the age of about 30, onwards. Unlike the female menopause (which is a sudden drop off of the female reproductive hormone, oestrogen) the decrease in testosterone is usually gradual. Associated symptoms of low testosterone are a decrease in sex drive, lower moods, lower energy levels and it can cause a loss of muscle mass. 
If you believe the testimony of Dr Life, he found that as he entered his sixties maintaining his body (and finding the motivation to go to the gym) was becoming increasingly difficult. After a blood test identified the doctor as being at the lower end of normal for testosterone levels, he began taking weekly testosterone injections. Voila! The vitality, motivation and muscle-mass building benefits he had enjoyed in his fifties returned to him like an old friend. He’s now the buffest 70-year-old you’ve ever seen and has made millions peddling healthy living titles.
So, if taking a testosterone injection every week can return your body’s hormone levels to those of a younger man, why isn’t this age management technique offered to everyone?
Well, playing with the body’s natural hormone levels isn’t quite as easy as taking a quick fix injection. While the story above might give some people the idea that a doctor could prescribe testosterone replacement therapy to immediately reinvigorate you, the important part is in the details. Dr Life began body building in his fifties, and only began to take Testosterone Replacement Therapy in his sixties when he was diagnosed with low testosterone.
Experiencing a gradual decline in your testosterone levels is perfectly natural. However, having a low testosterone level for your age indicates the pathological condition of hypogonadism – the failure of the testosterone producing physiological process. Prescribing Testosterone Replacement Therapy for people whose testosterone levels are in the normal range for their age is irresponsible. Far from ‘age management’ it is more akin to steroid abuse and can have its own set of adverse side-effects such as feminisation.
So, if there’s no cure-all injection – how do we manage the slow onset of age? Well, boring as it may sound, the old advice is often the best. Eat well, exercise often and go to regular check-ups with your doctor.
And if you are experiencing the all-too-common symptoms of low testosterone (rule of thumb – 50% of men over 50 complain of at least one)? Come visit the WellMan Clinic. We are experts in men’s health and can identify whether you are suffering from low testosterone or some other undetected health problem.