Low testosterone affects millions of American men. Men who suffer from low testosterone have decreased libido, decrease in erections, and lethargy or loss of energy. In this blog I will discuss the importance of testosterone and the treatment options for the diagnosis of low T.
What Is Testosterone and Why Does It Decline?
Testosterone is a hormone produced in the testicles. It’s what puts hair on a man’s chest and responsible for his beard. It’s the force behind his sex drive.
During puberty, testosterone helps build a man’s muscles, deepens his voice, and boosts the size of his penis and testes. In adulthood, it keeps a man’s muscles and bones strong and maintains his interest in sex. In short, it’s what makes a man a man (at least physically).
After age 30, most men begin to experience a gradual decline in testosterone about 1% a year. A decrease in sex drive sometimes accompanies the drop in testosterone, leading many men to mistakenly believe that their loss of interest in sex is simply due to getting older.
The diagnosis of low T is made by a history of the symptoms of low T and a simple blood test that checks the testosterone level. The test is best done in the morning before 10:00 A.M. when the hormone level is the highest.
The bottom of a man’s normal total testosterone range is about 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). The upper limits are 1,000 to 1,200 ng/dL. A lower-than-normal score on a blood test can be caused by a number of conditions, including:
Injury to the testicles
Testicular cancer or treatment for testicular cancer
Chronic liver or kidney disease
Type 2 diabetes
Some medicines and genetic conditions can also lower a man’s testosterone score. One of the most common drugs associated with low T are the SSRIs which are used to treat depression. Aging does contribute to low scores. In some cases, the cause is unknown.
Risks and Benefits of Testosterone Treatment?
There are also risks. Testosterone treatment can raise a man’s red blood cell count as well as enlarge his breasts. It can also accelerate prostate growth. Men with breast cancer should not receive testosterone treatment. These are uncommon side effects of testosterone treatment.
Men with prostate cancer who have symptoms of low T and have a low and stable PSA can receive testosterone treatment, however, they need to have a PSA and digital rectal exam every 1-2 months while receiving testosterone replacement.
The treatment with testosterone is safe as long as men receive careful monitoring.
Treatment options for low T include injections of testosterone given every two to three weeks, the daily application of gels under the arm or on the abdomen or lower thighs, and pellets inserted under the skin in the doctor’s office which last for 4-6 months.
Bottom Line: Low T is common. Help is available. See your doctor and get a blood testosterone level and if it is low consider hormone replacement therapy.