Testosterone 101: What You Need To Know
Hot flashes, fatigue and the general feeling of weakness in bones are typically symptoms of menopause in women. However, when it comes to men aging, their testosterone levels go down and they can have some of the same symptoms. These symptoms if left untreated can lead to severe health issues. Drops in testosterone levels often affect men ages 40 to 55 and can sometimes be referred to as male menopause or hypogonadism.
Low testosterone affects around 13 million men in the United States, however, the good news is that it can be treated!
What does testosterone do?
While testosterone is considered the male hormone, it is found in women as well but just in smaller amounts. Testosterone production begins to rise during puberty and continues until around age 30. Testosterone not only plays a big role in sperm production and sex drive, but it also affects bone and muscle mass, red blood cell production, mood and endurance.
What causes low testosterone?
Testosterone levels decrease as a normal part of aging. The decline in testosterone typically starts after the age of 30 and continues at a rate of about 1% per year. Generally, the older a man is the more likely they are to have low testosterone. Other factors that contribute to a drop in testosterone levels are:
- injury to the testicles
- pituitary gland problems
- cancer treatments
- certain medications
- chronic kidney or liver disease
- substance abuse
What are the symptoms of low T?
The normal range of testosterone levels for men is between 250 and 1,100 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl). Men with testosterone levels below 300 ng/dl may experience symptoms of low testosterone. These symptoms can include loss of sex drive and/or erectile dysfunction, mood changes, hair loss, fatigue, loss of muscle and/or bone mass, and weight gain.
Is having low testosterone dangerous?
Low testosterone, if left untreated, can cause long-lasting health conditions. Some of these conditions include osteoporosis and loss of muscle mass which can make men more prone to injury. Aside from bones and muscles becoming weak, men with low testosterone levels can struggle with their weight especially in the deep belly fat that forms around organs which increases the risk for heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
How is low testosterone treated?
Men who notice symptoms of low testosterone should make an appointment to see a doctor. The doctor will draw blood to check testosterone levels, if they come back low the next step is to discuss treatment options. Therapy is available in many forms, including topicals such as gels, creams and patches; injections and pellets that are implanted under the skin.
What are the benefits of testosterone therapy?
Every man responds differently to testosterone therapy, however, men who undergo therapy generally report:
- a boost in energy levels
- increased sex drive and improved erections
- weight loss
- better mood
- more energy and enthusiasm
- increased bone density and muscle mass