Low Testosterone: What You Need To Know
Low Testosterone: What You Need To Know
Although Testosterone is a hormone that can be found in both males and females, it is overwhelmingly abundant in the male body, where it is responsible for maintaining everything from sexual function and hair growth, to muscle mass and proper bone development. Even a man’s energy level and mood are affected by the amount of testosterone his body can produce. As critical as that might be, an estimated 13 million men in the United States alone suffer from the effects of low testosterone (American Diabetes Association). Furthermore, around 90 percent of these cases are thought to be untreated.
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Although low testosterone is fairly easy to identify, it is often ignored because its symptoms resemble those of other conditions.
Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms:
- Low sex drive
- Irritability or depression
- Difficulty concentrating
- Problems sleeping
- Loss of strength and endurance
- Difficulty recovering from exercise
- Reduced muscle mass
- Reduced penis or testicle size
- Increased weight gain
- Increased breast size
- Erectile dysfunction
- Lower sperm count
- Hair loss (including facial hair)
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Most cases of low testosterone can be linked to the aging process, with production gradually declining after the age of 30. In older men, this condition is often referred to as men’s menopause, “andropause.” or ADAM (Androgen Deficiency of the Aging Male). However, there are other causes that might be the result of problems with the brain or pituitary gland, as well as issues with the testes themselves, where testosterone is actually produced.
Primary hypogonadism is the medical term used for low testosterone caused by a problem within the testes (or ovaries, in females). Other than the issue of aging, some other causes might include an injury to the testicles, damage from certain types of cancer treatments, an extra X chromosome (in males), the mumps virus and undescended testicles. In the case of a female, primary hypogonadism might be the result of ovarian failure or the removal of both ovaries.
Concerning the other two types, secondary hypogonadism is the term for low testosterone related to the pituitary gland, while tertiary hypogonadism describes a problem that originates in the hypothalamus. In addition, malformations of the hypothalamus and the use of anabolic steroids can also drastically affect testosterone production and regulation at these levels.
Once you have taken a series of blood tests designed to identify low testosterone and determine its specific cause, treatment will consist of some type of testosterone therapy designed to normalize your level.
- Testosterone injections are intramuscular injections that must be taken every week. The major advantage to this method is that the shots are relatively inexpensive, when compared with some of the alternatives like Hormone Therapy Gels and Pellets. Injections seem to be the most popular method as only 1 injection is needed per week. The shots can be given at home (self inject) or in the office. At Genesis this is our preferred method of treatment.
- Testosterone gels and patches are some popular alternatives to injections, offering consistent delivery throughout the day. Gels are typically applied to the skin directly, then allowed to dry. Keep in mind that there is a slight possibility of transmitting the medication to another person (such as a child), via skin-to-skin contact. For this reason, many parents of small children elect not to use gels. Patches offer a similar type of convenience and are considered an equally reliable means of delivery. However, irritation around the area where the patch is applied is fairly common, as with any other type of transdermal patch. Also gels require twice a day application in the AM and PM for consistent blood levels. Because of this patient compliance drops off a lot because of the constant need for numerous applications. (Genesis does not offer Testosterone Gel Option)
- Testosterone pellets are a completely different method of delivery that does away with the various disadvantages of gels, patches and injections. Small pellets are inserted below the skin of the buttocks, where they remain effective for a period of up to 3 months. The drawbacks are the need for a local anesthetic prior to undergoing this procedure and a very slight possibility of infection. Patients also report scar tissue build up over the years due to continuous incision and pellet insertion. (Genesis does not offer Pellet Option)
While there are those who have a tendency to make light of this condition, low testosterone is no joke to those 13 million men and others worldwide, who have to deal with its negative effects on their everyday lives. From the inability to conceive a child, to unexplained bouts of depression and fatigue, the problems associated with low testosterone can lead a person to lose all interest in the things that once brought them joy and gave them a sense of purpose. If you think you might be suffering from low testosterone, see your doctor as soon as possible. The earlier you address this condition, the sooner you can get back to living a normal, healthy life.
Genesis Weight and Age Management
2207 Crestmoor Rd Suite 204
Nashville, TN 37215