Pete Evans knew something was wrong when he had sudden problems getting an erection. At 52, he had always had an active sex life. Even the bone marrow transplant he underwent in the summer of 2009 had little effect on his libido. Then, six months after the transplant, he lost his ability -- and his appetite -- for sex.
"After the operation, I had tons of energy, great libido. Then suddenly, things just stopped working," Evans (not his real name) says. "I was kind of depressed, too. After all I'd been through and now this."
You probably think of yourself as an average guy. And you probably think you cope pretty well with everyday stress. Sure, the boss might be causing you stress at work and making you uneasy about how secure your job is. Yeah, and maybe your wife has been too busy or too tired lately to notice just how much stress you have to deal with. And look at how fast your daughter is growing up. It's as if you're watching her in time-lapse photography while your college-aged son is still stuck in high school...
Finding himself unable to perform was an alarming first for him. When Evans, a retiree who lives in Amherst, Ohio, told his doctor, he received a prescription for Viagra. That didn't help. At a follow-up appointment, he had some blood work done. It showed that his testosterone level had tanked, likely a side effect of one of the post-transplant medications he was taking. This time, his doctor sent him to a urologist, who prescribed a testosterone skin patch to boost the levels of the hormone in his blood. He's now been using patches for about five months.
"I'm feeling more and more confident," Evans says. "Bringing up my testosterone has brought up my mood dramatically. I feel normal in every way."
Normal Testosterone Levels
Evans needed his bone marrow replaced because he has a rare blood disorder called aplastic anemia. His low level of testosterone, however, is a condition he shares with many men his age. The big difference is that Evans's testosterone levels plummeted almost overnight due to complications with his medication.
Age-related loss of testosterone, on the other hand, is gradual, dropping by about 1% to 1.5% per year beginning at age 40. The low testosterone levels that result can leave men feeling less energetic, less self-assured, and less manly.
In some labs, the normal levels (determined by a simple blood test) of a man's testosterone will measure 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter. However, it's important to confirm low levels of testosterone since many men will have normal levels on repeated testing due to fluctuations of the hormone.
"I felt like something had been taken away from me," Evans says, and it wasn't just about the sex. "I didn't have the strength I once had, and I was not able to build muscle mass."