Testosterone is a male hormone most popularly linked to a man’s sexual functions, though it also plays an essential part in a man’s physical, cognitive, and metabolic functions including bones and muscle mass development, voice deepening, hair growth, and sperm production to name a few. Testosterone levels in men start to peak when they reach adolescent and will continue to rise until adulthood. A sufficient amount of testosterone helps men stay at the peak of their sexual performance.
The bad news is, as a man ages, this hormone naturally declines. In order to stay at their peak, some men seek help to increase their testosterone levels. But health experts say testosterone therapy is specially designed for testosterone deficiency, which is a hormonal imbalance where the patient doesn’t have a sufficient supply of testosterone in his body. This imbalance is accompanied by signs and symptoms.
A natural testosterone decline, which does not come with signs and symptoms, isn’t considered a deficiency. In this case, testosterone therapy isn’t an option.
Causes of Low Testosterone Levels
Testosterone deficiency is caused by a lot of things that include the following:
- Testicular dysfunction
- Loss of the testes
- Genetic disorders
- Klinefelter syndrome
- Pituitary disorders
- Steroid or opioid use
Signs and Symptoms
If you’re over forty, knowing the distinction between testosterone deficiency and declining testosterone levels might not be easier. Make sure to look for the following subtle signs. If you’re below 40, the following signs and symptoms are red flags.
Decreased sex drive
A declining sex drive is normal as a man advances in age. But if your desire for sex drastically declines, it’s a sign something in your system is not functioning right.
Since testosterone aids in achieving and maintaining harder erections, an insufficient supply of it works otherwise. Experts, however, stress that testosterone is not the sole component in a man’s erectile issues. Even if testosterone treatment is done, a patient will still have erection difficulty if some factors are present somewhere.
Low sperm count
A decrease in the semen volume is noticeable during ejaculation.
Unexplained loss of hair
Hair loss can be a natural part of aging. But when you’re losing hair in your body and face more rapidly than you should, that must be a red flag for low T.
Diminished lean muscle mass
Since one of the testosterone’s key functions is to regulate muscle mass, a deficiency of it can cause a diminished muscle mass. Luckily, it doesn’t affect strength and functions.
Feeling tired after a vigorous physical exertion is normal. But when you’re seemingly exhausted without doing anything, your T levels might be to blame for it. Low energy levels are found in men who have low T.
Increased body fat
Low testosterone production can also lead to an increase in body fat. Aside from this, some men with low T developed enlarged breast tissue as well.
While hot flashes are one of the menopausal symptoms in women, it can also affect men who have low T.
Reduced bone mass
Testosterone is needed to help produce and maintain bone strength. When there is no sufficient supply of this hormone, a man’s bone may be at risk for osteoporosis or bone fractures. This is why seeing your doctor immediately once the symptoms appear is a must.
Reduced testicle size
Your testicles naturally become smaller when exposed to colder temperatures. But when the conditions are right but you’re feeling your testicles are unusually small, your T levels might be low.
Men with low testosterone levels may experience irritability, lack of focus, and depression. These mood swings happen because testosterone also influences the physical and mental capacity of men.
Low T can affect men’s sleeping habits. They may find difficulty falling or staying asleep. They may also be prone to sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that disrupts sleep and is likely to lead to serious health problems when left untreated for long.
Problems with memory
Some men with low T have trouble with their memory and concentration. Their motivation is lowered as well as their confidence.
Low blood counts
Since low T can cause sleeping problems, which may result in anemia, men with low T are also found to have low blood counts. One study showed improvements in men with low T after being administered with testosterone gels.
If you experience a number of the above symptoms, see your doctor immediately for the exact diagnosis and treatment.
Tests and Treatment
Experts say testosterone replacement is possible for men who have a testosterone deficiency, except, of course, for those who have a normal testosterone decline. They promise it to be favorable and less risky. But before undergoing any treatment, you should talk to your doctor about treatment options so that it fits well with your lifestyle, budget, and other health concerns, if there are any.
For a proper diagnosis, patients have to undergo two separate and nonconsecutive blood tests, preferably in the early morning since it’s when testosterone levels are the highest. It can also fluctuate during the day. Tests should be done in a laboratory certified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A deep muscle injection and the least expensive option.
Gels or patches
Testosterone is applied to the skin, which will then be released through the skin.
The tablets are placed between the gum and upper lip and broken down by saliva and absorbed into the bloodstream.
Guidelines to Consider During Treatment
- There should be close monitoring of the T levels to ensure the hormone hits the desired range and to minimize the risk of biopsies.
- Low T can be a risk factor for cardiovascular issues.
- Increased testosterone could raise PSA levels, which may lead to prostate cancer risk.
- A transdermal gel is another treatment for low T. Patients who administer this treatment to raise their T levels should be extra careful when using transdermal gels. They may accidentally pass the testosterone gels to women and children. Covering the area where the gel has been applied is of utmost importance to avoid passing the gel to others.
- Experts warn men who want to have children to avoid receiving testosterone treatments because they’ve been found to impair the production of sperm.
- Patients should undergo proper diagnosis before receiving testosterone treatments.
- Close follow up with a health professional is a must as well as refilling the prescription when necessary.
- Tell your doctor if you have other health conditions to treat it too.