The Secret of Alexithymia: Why Men Can’t Talk about It

Embarassed ManEven if you’re not a stand-up comedian or internet humorist, you’re probably at least passably aware of the stereotype that men don’t like to talk about feelings.

What may actually surprise you is that some men may find the root cause of this inability to express feelings lies not in their unwillingness–but in their testosterone levels.

Now before every lady reading this starts rolling her eyes, it’s important to note that there has been plenty of research on this topic. There’s scientific proof that low testosterone could be to blame for a man’s poor communication skills.

What is alexithymia?

Alexithymia is a psychological condition where the patient has extreme difficulty in recognizing and expressing thoughts and emotions. Often times, patients who suffer from alexithymia also suffer from depression.

Alexithymia has also been closely tied to the aging process. The long-term effects of this disorder are more common in men than women, so researchers have currently been focusing on the links between male aging and its effect on alexithymia.

What does the research say?

Symptoms of low testosterone–like decreased energy levels, depression, and erectile dysfunction–are common side-effects of the male aging process. They all often happen in conjunction with alexithymia

To date, the major source of data collected on this disorder has been done through a Finnish study. It sought to determine whether this disorder is caused by aging or by other factors typically associated with aging.

The study had 1400 men (all ranging in age from their twenties to their sixties) fill out questionnaires over the span of three years. The questionnaire was designed to help assess the subjects’ difficulties in expressing their emotions, thoughts, their levels of depression, and their general life-satisfaction.

Once the three years was completed, researchers asked 116 men a follow-up survey. Of these 116, half of them had symptoms of alexithymia.

The follow-up survey contained questions about alcohol intake, smoking status, and other general information. It also involved blood work. From the subjects’ blood, researchers could determine their testosterone levels.

What were the results?

With complete consistency, the researchers conducting the study found that no matter what age bracket the respondent, if their blood work showed that their body did not produce enough testosterone, the subject showed signs of alexithymia.

As a result, the men who had hypogonadism (or a condition where the body does not produce enough testosterone) were consistently more likely to have alexithymia.

What does this mean for me?

Because of the findings of the 1998 Finnish study, the link between aging and alexithymia has been clarified.

It is not, as originally hypothesized, aging which renders men incapable of conveying thoughts and emotions. Instead it’s dependent on that particular man’s production of testosterone. The research is still a bit unclear as to the biological reasoning behind this link, although it is believed that the metabolic disorders, obesity, and decreased sexual desire which are closely linked with alexithymia all contribute to the disorder itself.

Alexithymia is, unfortunately, also a risk factor for other psychiatric disorders like anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. To that end, it’s important to speak to a medical professional right away and check your body’s testosterone levels if you’ve noticed emotional and cognitive changes in recent years.

It may be that you need hormone replacement therapy in order to help combat these symptoms. Many times, emotional and cognitive issues instigate impotence. A Denver erectile dysfunction doctor can help determine if the alexithymia could lead to ED too.

Be sure to check with your doctor at the Denver low T clinic to see if hormone replacement therapy can help boost your testosterone levels back to their peak.

There’s still research needing to be done in the area of alexithymia, but scientists are beginning to get a clearer picture of testosterone and its effects on both your body and mind.