Did you know that 2.4 million men ages 40-49 have low testosterone levels?
Testosterone is a hormone produced primarily in the testicles. Testosterone helps to maintain bone density, fat distribution, muscle strength and mass, facial and body hair, red blood cell production, sex drive, and sperm production. If this hormone sounds pretty important, that’s because it is. One problem with testosterone is that its levels peak during adolescence and early adulthood but decline by 1% every year after age 30 or 40. Although age does play a large part in low testosterone levels, obesity, diabetes, chronic medical conditions, hormonal disorders, injury to testicles, HIV/AIDS, and infections can also play a part.
Some warning signs of low testosterone levels are:
- Lack of Sexual Function: One of the biggest worries men face with low testosterone levels is the possibility that their performance and sexual desire will be affected. This is a genuine concern because some symptoms of lowered levels of testosterone include reduced desire for sex and infertility.
- Physical Changes: Increased body fat, decreased strength, fragile bones, decreased body hair, swelling or tenderness in breast tissue, hot flashes, increased fatigue, and some negative effects on cholesterol metabolism.
- Sleep Disturbances: Decreased energy levels, insomnia
- Emotional Changes: Low testosterone levels can cause feelings of sadness, depression, and a decreased sense of wellbeing. It may also cause lowered motivation. Much like when a woman’s mood changes during menopause because of an estrogen drop, men can experience mood changes from low testosterone.
How do you know if your testosterone levels are low? Most commonly, diagnosis comes from a physical exam or a blood test. Blood tests should be performed in the morning because that is when testosterone levels are highest. Other less common tests could be performed as well, such as: an MRI or CT scan, genetic studies, or hormone tests.
There are several options for testosterone replacement. Therapy can take place in the form of injections, tablets that dissolve under your lip, transdermal patches, and gels. Low testosterone should only be treated under medical supervision. If you feel your testosterone levels are low, contact your doctor for more information on treatment.