Results of a new nationwide survey show that more than half of women whose male partners have symptoms of a medical condition known as low testosterone incorrectly attribute them to the normal course of aging. The survey also found that, while women believe their male partner's symptoms of low testosterone negatively impact their relationship, treatment of the condition improves the quality of the relationship.

Low testosterone, or testosterone deficiency associated with hypogonadism, is a medical condition caused by disease or damage to the testicles, hypothalamus, or pituitary gland that inhibits hormone secretion and testosterone production in men. As many as five million men over the age of 18 have lower than normal levels of testosterone.(1)

"Most people don't realize that low testosterone is a serious medical condition, and one that can have an impact on the entire family," said Tanya Abreu, President and National Program Director, Spirit of Women Health Network, which commissioned the survey. "If left untreated, low testosterone can affect a man's overall health, personal relationships, and quality of life. And, it can also affect his partner's perception of the relationship and quality of life. At Spirit of Women, we believe health is quality of life."

As reported by the women surveyed, symptoms of low testosterone in most symptomatic men included lack of energy (64%), decreased libido (61%), less strong erections (64%), a sad and/ or grumpy mood (58%), and irritability (60%). Symptoms most troublesome to women with a symptomatic partner are mood swings (91%), depression (91%), irritability (86%), a sad and/ or grumpy mood (81%), and decreased enjoyment of life (74%).

The online survey of 2,008 women aged 30 or older (mean age 45.8 years) in a romantic relationship for at least three years (mean 19.8 years) with a man aged 35 to 65 (mean age 48.8 years) was conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Spirit of Women, a national coalition that inspires health and wellness for women and their families on a local level by leveraging national resources.

Scientific research links decreased levels of testosterone in men to a number of significant medical conditions, including metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, abnormal blood lipids, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.(2) The most recent research, conducted by the University of California at San Diego, found low testosterone may lead to a greater risk of death in men aged 50 and older. The study tracked nearly 800 men, 50 to 91 years old, living in California and found that men with low testosterone had a 33 percent greater death risk over their next 18 years of life compared with men who had higher testosterone.

Other Key Survey Findings

The survey also found:

-- Among women with symptomatic partners, 44% of those whose partners have not visited his doctor predict that the barrier to visiting is that he thinks his symptoms are a normal part of aging.

-- Among women with symptomatic partners, 18% have not discussed their partner's symptoms and 28% report that they are not comfortable discussing his symptoms.

The Symptoms of Low T Negatively Affect Relationship Quality

-- Women with symptomatic (27%) or diagnosed (48%) partners indicate that the symptoms of low T affect/ affected their relationship.

-- Less physical intimacy is mentioned by women with symptomatic partners (72%) and women with diagnosed partners (78%) as the largest impact symptoms have or had on their relationship.

-- Women with symptomatic partners also report that communication with their partner suffers (51%) and that they feel more lonely (47%).

-- Two-thirds of women whose partners have been diagnosed mention that prior to his diagnosis, their partner seemed distant.

Treating Low T Improves Relationship Quality

-- Forty-two percent of women with a diagnosed partner report that his treatment (most often testosterone replacement therapy) improved their partner's symptoms.

-- One-third of women with a diagnosed partner indicate that their quality of life has improved as a result of their partner's treatment for low T.

-- Prior to diagnosis, just over half (57%) of women were satisfied with the quality of their relationship. After their partner was diagnosed with low T, 81 percent of women are satisfied with the quality of their current relationship.

About Hypogonadism (Low Testosterone)

Physical signs of hypogonadism can include incomplete sexual development, body hair loss, reduced muscle bulk and increased body fat, height loss, low bone density and impaired sperm production. Symptoms associated with hypogonadism can include reduced sexual desire, depression, changes in mood, poor concentration, decreased energy and motivation, and increased sleepiness.

Men who believe they may be suffering from low testosterone should talk to their doctors about the Androgen Deficiency in Aging Men (ADAM) questionnaire. The ADAM questionnaire consists of 10 simple questions that will help the doctor determine if the patient has hypogonadism. A blood test can confirm hypogonadism by measuring testosterone levels. The doctor will then determine if the patient is a candidate for testosterone replacement therapy and, if so, which treatment options are right for him.

About the Survey Methodology

This online survey was conducted between May 29 and June 4, 2007 within the United States by Harris Interactive(R) on behalf of Spirit of Women with funding provided by Auxilium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. An adapted version of the ADAM questionnaire was used to classify women into one of three groups: diagnosed partner (N=43); symptomatic partner (N=968); non-symptomatic partner (N=997).

Harris Interactive recruited the survey respondents via email through the HarrisPollOnline (HPOL). Figures for age by sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online. This methodology helps to ensure that results are nationally representative.

With a pure probability sample of 2,008 one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results would have a sampling error of +/- 2.2 percentage points. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

About Spirit of Women

Spirit of Women is a national network of leading hospitals dedicated to improving women's lives with innovative health and community programs. Spirit of Women Hospitals touch the lives of millions of women each year through the presentation of educational events, consumer membership programs, annual conferences, marketing communications and grass roots efforts to improve the health and well-being of women everywhere. The initiative enables participating hospitals to focus on community needs while providing the strength of national support. Please visit spiritofwomen for additional information.


(1) FDA website - fda/fdac/departs/196_upd.html

(2) The Endocrine Society's Clinical Guidelines: Testosterone Therapy in Adult Men with Androgen Deficiency Syndrome: An Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline; J Cli. End & Metab. 2006;91(6):1995-2010.

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