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Super Fit and Over 50?

A significant percentage of aging male athletes have an undiagnosed testosterone deficiency, which may influence erectile dysfunction and disrupt sexual desire according to a study in July 2010 issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine. The study found that sports participation among older males can influence the symptoms of hypogonadism, a condition that causes the testes to produce little or no testosterone.

The study found that severe or mild testosterone deficiency was observed in 12%-18% of the sample age range 50-75 and most prevalent in athletes older than 70, which made up 27.5% of the sample group.

“Generally, exercise improves overall health; however, in aging males, some men may want to consider checking their testosterone levels before starting a rigorous training routine,” said Dr. Irwin Goldstein, director of sexual medicine at Alvarado Hospital and editor-in-chief of the journal. “Treating low testosterone can be done with simple procedures involving, injections, patches or gels."

A number of aging athletes in this preliminary study were affected by undiagnosed testosterone deficiency. As in the general population, not all athletes with low testosterone will exhibit overt symptoms. Symptoms may include low sex drive, fatigue, depression or irritability, and decreased bone density.

The study suggests that doctors should consider further research into the specific risks of elderly males participating in athletics and the need for a pre-participation testosterone evaluation.