LOW TESTOSTERONE

Although testosterone levels fall as men age, the decline is steady at less than 2% a year from around the age of 30 to 40, and this is unlikely to cause any problems in itself. This has been somewhat misleadingly described as the ‘Andropause’ although in contrast to the menopause, there is no sudden cessation of hormones. However, testosterone deficiency that develops later in life, also known as late-onset hypogonadism, can sometimes be responsible for symptoms of loss of sex drive, erectile dysfunction, low mood and other physical and emotional symptoms.

DIAGNOSIS

When you see a doctor to evaluate whether you have low testosterone, they will:

  • Take your health history
  • Perform an exam
  • Look for or ask about any signs and symptoms you may be experiencing

While that information often points to the diagnosis of low testosterone, the most common way to confirm that you have the condition is by a blood test that evaluates the level of testosterone in your blood.

TREATMENT

The most common treatment is testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). A doctor will typically only prescribe TRT if the person has several symptoms of low testosterone and blood test results that indicate a deficiency.

Most people will notice relief from symptoms within 4–6 weeks of starting TRT. There are several delivery methods of TRT, including:

  • Skin patches
  • Gels
  • Tablets that dissolve in the mouth
  • Injections
  • Surgically implanted pellets that release the hormone

Weight loss and exercise can often increase testosterone levels naturally. While changes to the lifestyle and diet alone may not raise levels sufficiently, they can often help.

SYMPTOMS

If you have low testosterone levels, you may notice the following signs and symptoms:

  • Decreased sex drive (libido)
  • Poor (or no) erections (erectile dysfunction or impotence)
  • Enlarged breasts
  • Low sperm count
  • Fatigue

Some men may experience more serious symptoms, especially the longer their testosterone levels remain low. Severe low Testosterone may lead to signs and symptoms including:

  • Loss of body hair
  • Loss of muscle mass and strength
  • Weaker bones (osteoporosis)
  • Mood swings (including increased irritability)
  • Depression
  • Hot flushes

In severe cases, men experience extreme mood disturbances, low libido, erectile dysfunction, increased body fat and significant muscle loss. It’s important to note that these symptoms can reflect other health issues, including:

  • Medical conditions present at birth
  • Injury to the testicles
  • Other medical problems

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