Defining 'relative' androgen deficiency in aging men: how should testosterone be measured and what are the relationships between androgen levels and physical, sexual and emotional health?

Climacteric. 2002 Mar;5(1):15-25.


In men, bioavailable and free testosterone levels decline by about 1.0 and 1.2% per year, respectively, after the age of 40. The definition of clinically relevant androgen deficiency in the aging male remains uncertain. Clinical features common to both aging and androgen deficiency include decreased muscle mass and strength, and increased fatigue, increased fat mass, loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, impaired cognitive function and depression. It is, however, difficult to separate the effect on plasma testosterone of concomitant disease, compared with the effects of a decrease in testosterone levels alone. Testosterone supplementation has been shown to be effective in improving many of the clinical features of androgen deficiency in the older male, and is safe, at least in the short term. The maximum benefit occurs in those men with the lowest testosterone levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging*
  • Androgens / deficiency*
  • Androgens / physiology*
  • Body Composition
  • Bone Density
  • Cognition
  • Depression
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Humans
  • Libido
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Testosterone / administration & dosage
  • Testosterone / adverse effects
  • Testosterone / blood*


  • Androgens
  • Testosterone