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Low Testosterone - WebMD: Symptoms, Health Effects, and Testosterone Replacement
WebMD archives content after 2 years to ensure our readers can easily find the most timely content. To find the most current information, please enter your topic of interest into our search box. In recent years, Spyros Mezitis, MD, PhD, has found himself talking to a lot more male patients about low testosterone , a diagnosis he says is becoming increasingly common.
On the one hand, increased diagnosis of low testosterone is driven by an aging population, less stigma, and more precise tests. But there's another big reason why men come to Mezitis' office for a testosterone test.
Ask your doctor about low testosterone ,'" he says. They come in saying they feel excessively fatigued, weaker, depressed, and that they have lost their sex drive -- all common symptoms of a drop in testosterone. Testosterone is a hormone.
It's what puts hair on a man's chest. 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. 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.
A gradual decline in testosterone can't explain a near-total lack of interest in sex, for example. And for Hedges' patients who are in their 20s, 30s, and early 40s and having erectile problems, other health problems may be a bigger issue than aging.
But awareness and appreciation of low testosterone has risen. We recognize now that low testosterone may be at the root of problems. Doctors will want to rule out any such possible explanations for symptoms before blaming them on low testosterone. They will also want to order a specific blood test to determine a man's testosterone level. A lower-than-normal score on a blood test can be caused by a number of conditions, including:. Some medicines and genetic conditions can also lower a man's testosterone score.
Aging does contribute to low scores. In some cases, the cause is unknown. Hedges agrees and warns that even if a man does not have symptoms, he may be well advised to seek treatment. Low testosterone scores often lead to drops in bone density, meaning that bones become more fragile and increasingly prone to breaks. Having a gradual decline in your testosterone level as you age is to be expected.
Treatment is sometimes considered if you're experiencing symptoms related to low testosterone. If a young man's low testosterone is a problem for a couple trying to get pregnant , gonadotropin injections may be an option in some cases. These are hormones that signal the body to produce more testosterone.
This may increase the sperm count. Hedges also describes implantable testosterone pellets, a relatively new form of treatment in which several pellets are placed under the skin of the buttocks, where they release testosterone over the course of about three to four months. Injections and nasal gels may be other options for some men. 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. Testosterone treatment usually is not advised for men with prostate cancer. Hedges says some of the associations between testosterone replacement therapy and prostate health are currently being challenged. In his practice, he does offer testosterone treatment to men who have been treated for prostate cancer.
Men's Health Feature Stories. Continued "A lot of the symptoms are mirrored by other medical problems," Hedges says. How Low Is Too Low? A lower-than-normal score on a blood test can be caused by a number of conditions, including: Spring Allergies Precise Cancer Therapy.