Low testosterone, or male hypogonadism, is a condition in which the body doesn’t produce enough testosterone — the hormone that plays a key role in masculine development and ongoing health.
Testosterone is the hormone that contributes to male sexual arousal, erection and ejaculation. Low levels of testosterone can be a cause of erectile dysfunction.
Low testosterone levels inhibit more than sexual function. Testosterone contributes to red blood cell production, muscle mass and bone strength. It is a factor in mood, clarity of thought and concentration
Symptoms of Low Testosterone
In adult males, hypogonadism may alter certain masculine physical characteristics and impair normal reproductive function. Signs and symptoms may include:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Loss of libido
- Decrease in beard and body hair growth
- Decrease in muscle mass
- Development of breast tissue (gynecomastia)
- Loss of bone mass (osteoporosis)
Low testosterone can also cause mental and emotional changes. As testosterone decreases, some men may experience symptoms similar to those of menopause in women. These may include:
- Decreased sex drive
- Difficulty concentrating
- Hot flashes
Causes of Low Testosterone
Aging is the primary cause for low testosterone. Testosterone levels naturally decline by 1% a year beginning in a man’s thirties.
Beyond age, risk factors for low testosterone can include:
- Chemotherapy or radiation treatment
- High cholesterol or high blood pressure
- Injury or infection to the testicles
- Chronic illness, such as diabetes or HIV
- Alcohol/Opioid abuse
Diagnosis of Low-T
A blood test will determine whether a patient has a testosterone deficiency. Testosterone levels vary during throughout the day. Testing is typically done in the morning when testosterone levels are highest.
The doctor will review your symptoms, medical history and medications. Other tests to determine the impact of your condition may be necessary, such as a bone density test to check for osteoporosis or a blood count for iron-deficiency.
Treatment for Low Testosterone
Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) is the treatment offered for testosterone deficiency. There are multiple ways to introduce testosterone into the body.
|Skin Patch||Transdermal||Upper body or arm||Apply daily|
|Gets||Topical||Location varies depending on brand||Apply daily|
|Mouth Patch||Transdermal||Upper gums above the incisor||Apply twice daily|
|Injections||Subcutaneous||Into muscle tissue||N/A|
|Pellet Implants||Subcutaneous||Under skin||N/A|
Risk Factors of Testosterone Replacement
The doctor will monitor your condition regularly during the first year of TRT therapy and then on an annual basis. The reasons for monitoring include:
- TRT can cause a reduction in sperm count. The treatment is not recommended for men who want to have children.
- Both positive and negative risk factors for the heart and blood vessels have been observed and need to be monitored.
- TRT can increase the risk of blood clots.
- Men with sleep apnea can see their condition worsen with TRT treatments.
- Testosterone replacement can enlarge the prostate.
- Men can become emotionally volatile, growing angry and aggressive.
Your doctor will monitor your progress carefully. Please communicate any changes in mood or physical reactions as they happen.
Testosterone levels can be affected by health conditions and life style choices. Making changes in your overall health can contribute to an increase in testosterone. These are factors in testosterone production and overall health:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
- Eliminate tobacco
- Seek counselling for depression
- Get treatment for any substance abuse
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