Age-associated testosterone decline in men: clinical issues for psychiatry

Am J Psychiatry. 1998 Oct;155(10):1310-8. doi: 10.1176/ajp.155.10.1310.


Objective: The author summarizes current knowledge about the diagnosis and treatment of testosterone decline in healthy aging men and the associated clinical issues for psychiatry.

Method: A MEDLINE search was conducted in which the search terms "male climacteric," "male menopause," "andropause," "viropause," "low-testosterone syndrome," and "testosterone replacement therapy" were used. Literature published before 1966 was identified by reviewing the reference lists of later publications.

Results: Manifestations of testosterone deficiency have included depression, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, weakness, diminished libido, impotence, poor memory, reduced muscle and bone mass, and diminished sexual body hair. Although testosterone levels decline with age, there is great interindividual variability, and the connection between serum testosterone levels and clinical psychiatric signs and symptoms is not clear-cut, since other hormonal changes are implicated as well. Testosterone replacement therapy may offer hypogonadal men benefit, but long-term studies on its efficacy and safety are lacking. Comprehensive biopsychosocial assessment should be a routine part of the evaluation of complaints of low-testosterone syndrome in men.

Conclusions: Testosterone decline/deficiency is not a state strictly analogous to female menopause and may exhibit considerable overlap with primary and other secondary psychiatric disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / blood
  • Aging / physiology
  • Climacteric / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypogonadism / blood
  • Hypogonadism / diagnosis
  • Hypogonadism / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Menopause / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology
  • Terminology as Topic
  • Testosterone / blood*
  • Testosterone / deficiency*
  • Testosterone / therapeutic use


  • Testosterone