Testosterone (T) is a hormone produced in the testicles of men (and in the ovaries of women to a much smaller amount than in men. Testosterone is often referred to as the male sex hormone. It is normal for the testosterone level to decrease in men after age 30 at a rate of 1-3% a year but men don’t develop symptoms until late 40 or early 50. During puberty, testosterone helps young boys develop male physical features like body and facial hair, i.e., a beard, and muscle strength. Testosterone is also needed to help with the development of sperm.
Low T is defined as a decrease in the blood level of the hormone, usually less than 300ng\dl plus symptoms including decrease in libido or sex drive, lethargy, changes in mood, loss of muscle mass and decreased energy levels.
The diagnosis of low T requires a medical history of symptoms, a physical exam and a blood test that confirms a decrease in the hormone level.
Testosterone replacement is possible using injections of testosterone, topical gels, a nasal spray of testosterone, and insertion of testosterone pellets (Testopel). The side effects of testosterone replacement include an increase in red blood cells, acne, reduction in size of the testicles, and infertility. It is therefore important to discuss with your doctor if you are still planning to have a family as you should not use testosterone replacement therapy.
Caution:Don’t take testosterone if you don’t have medical reasons for doing so
Don’t’ take testosterone if your trying to achieve a pregnancy
If you use testosterone replacement, then get a routine check-up and blood tests at least every six months
Bottom Line: Millions of American men suffer from low T. If you have symptoms and a blood test that confirms low testosterone, then you may be a candidate for testosterone replacement therapy.