Do I Have Low Testosterone?
Men, does you life lack spice?
Do you have trouble concentrating and feel tired all the time?
Have your strength and physical ability declined?
Has your sexual desire plummeted?
You may be suffering from low levels of testosterone otherwise known as "hypogonadism".
Hypogonadism is common, effecting over 15 million men in America. While there is no cure, it is quite treatable. If discovered and treated appropriately, a huge turn-around can be observed. This blog will cover the symptoms, causes and treatment of hypogonadism.
What Does Testosterone Do In The Body?
Testosterone is a hormone produced in the testes in response to signals from the brain. Testosterone is responsible for the normal growth and development of the male sex organs and for maintenance of other sexual characteristics. These characteristics include:
- Male hair distribution (such as facial hair)
- Sex drive and sexual function
- Mood and energy level
- Maintenance of muscle mass and distribution of fat (preference for the abdomen)
- Bone strength
What Are Symptoms of Low Testosterone?
When testosterone is deficient, a syndrome emerges from the decline in hormonal support.
- Body and Facial Hair Changes. Hair patterns may change.
- Decrease in Sex Drive or Sex. Libido (sex drive) declines and a man may have problems with getting or maintaining an erection. (For more information on Erectile Dysfunction, please check out my blog "The Bigger Picture of Erectile Dysfunction".)
- Depression. He may feel depressed and find it hard to concentrate.
- Fatigue. Energy levels decline despite adequate sleep and proper diet.
- Changes in Fat Distribution and Muscle Mass. Fat patterns may change and muscle mass may decline despite efforts to maintain or build.
- Decline in Strength and Stamina. Often times, men note a decline in physical abilities such as sports performance or exercise potential.
- Fertility Problems. When infertility is an issue, low levels of testosterone may be the culprit.
What Causes Low Testosterone?
While low testosterone is often seen without any causal factors, it is more common with certain chronic disease states.
- Diabetes. In men with type II diabetes (adult onset), about 50% will have low levels of testosterone. Because of this high prevalence, routine screening is recommended.
- Kidney or Liver Disease. Low testosterone is more common in chronic kidney disease and in lung disease from smoking.
- HIV/AIDS. HIV infection can cause testosterone to decline.
- Radiation Therapy. In cancer treatment, certain chemotherapy agents and radiation therapy can negatively impact testosterone levels.
- Excess Weight. Obesity has been found to independently increase the risk for low testosterone.
- Normal Aging. Advancing age can bring declining testosterone levels. While 30% of men over the age of 75 have low levels of testosterone it is debated whether this warrants treatment or is a normal part of aging.
What Can You Do About Low Testosterone?
These symptoms can be quite problematic and can cause a downward spiral in a man's life. Intimate relationships may become strained due to decreased sex drive and abilities. Work performance may decline due to lacking energy and ability to concentrate. An already depressed mood may be magnified by these above situational factors and a declining self-esteem.
If you have symptoms consistent with low testosterone and/or a condition that puts you at increased risk, see your doctor. That rut you are in may have a simple remedy. A blood test can be easily performed to test your testosterone level. If the level is low, consideration can be given to supplementing your testosterone to maintain a normal, healthy level and putting the spice back in your life.