Testosterone, which is secreted primarily from the testicles and
secondarily from the adrenal glands, is an important hormone in male
development. It is know that testosterone levels are secreted in the
male according to a circadian rhythm, with maximal levels occurring in
the morning and minimal levels at night. It is also known that serum
testosterone levels do decline with advancing age, beginning in the
mid-forties. This is most likely a result of a decreased rate of
production in the testicles due to aging. In addition, the size and
weight of the testicles decrease with age. Seventy-year-old males may
be expected to have approximately 50 percent of the testosterone
concentrations found in men half their age.
However, almost all older men still have serum testosterone levels that
are in a range considered to be normal, and testosterone levels in men
who demonstrate varying levels of erectile ability usually fall within
the normal range, indicating that testosterone itself is usually not a
cause of impotence. But while low testosterone is generally not
responsible for impotence, it may cause a loss of interest in sex.
As a man enters middle age, there are obvious changes in his
emotional makeup. A man may realize for the first time that many of his
early aspirations, either personal or occupational, will not be met.
Other men feel that they have gone as far as they are going to go
professionally and financially, and that there is really nothing to
look forward to in life. These anxieties common to middle age may
result in psychological impotence.
Some men today believe they should be able to perform sexually like a
machine. They expect that foreplay, erections, vaginal penetration,
ejaculation and orgasm will follow in an automatic sequence. Since most
bodily functions, including sexual drive, vary from day to day, the
chances of not living up to a predetermined standard are significant;
therefore there is a great tendency for men, especially those of middle
age, to believe that they are sexual underachievers. It is imperative
that they and their female partners realize that sexual performance
will vary from time to time and that there are no set standards that
must be met on every occasion.
A sympathetic and considerate female partner is one of the most
important factors in continuing potency in the male. Men and their
partners should take heart in the knowledge that sex, like a fine wine,
may improve with aging.
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