What is low testosterone?
Testosterone is the most important male sex hormone. It is not only responsible for male characteristics such as facial hair and a deep voice, but it also influences the sex drive. Some men just don’t produce enough testosterone. And once a man reaches age 40, his testosterone levels naturally start to decline. This is mostly due in part to the body’s declining ability to produce testosterone. This is normal, as hormones changing with age are a natural part of the aging process. Unlike women, men’s testosterone levels tend to decrease on a steady scale as opposed to a big drop. Men’s gradual decline of testosterone is sometimes referred to as ‘andropause.’ A man is considered to have low testosterone if he has less than 300 nanograms per deciliter of blood.
How does low testosterone affect our health?
The decline of testosterone production can sometimes yield symptoms. About half of men with low levels of testosterone report experiencing symptoms. That means the other half don’t see any symptoms. However, some men don’t realize their symptoms. They may see that their sex drive has gone down, but they may not relate it to low testosterone or even realize how much it has declined. The following are some common symptoms of low testosterone levels:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Low sex drive
- Difficulty sleeping
- Mood swings
- Loss of hair
Beyond basic low testosterone symptoms such as lower sex drive, low testosterone levels might also lead to other health problems. Although research has not completely proven that low testosterone causes other chronic medical conditions, research points to an association between low testosterone and conditions such as diabetes, depression, obesity, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. It is possible that having low testosterone is merely an indication that health is declining overall.
Treatment of low testosterone
To treat low testosterone, doctors supplement the levels with hormone replacement therapy. Testosterone can be replaced by using a variety of different methods, including gel or a patch used on the skin, intramuscular injections or a putty applied to gums. The goal of these treatments is to raise testosterone to normal levels.