Doctors estimate that there are at least four million American men suffering with low levels of testosterone. However, only a tiny fraction of those are receiving life-changing treatment.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is the main male hormone and is produced in the testes. It is the influence of testosterone that produces the male genitals and other sexual characteristics, such as facial hair and deepening of the voice at puberty.
What are the Symptoms of Low Testosterone?
If your body does not produce adequate levels of testosterone you may experience trouble achieving and maintaining an erection, decreased sex drive, low fertility and an increase in the amount of breast tissue. As well as physical effects, low testosterone may influence your mood, stimulating irritability and depression.
There are more long-term effects of low testosterone levels, including a reduction in bone and muscle mass. This can have a dramatic affect on your strength, well-being and life-span.
What are the Causes?
Hormones production is carefully regulated, and there are a wide number of reasons why a man may experience low levels of testosterone. These include disorders of the testicles, hormone-regulating glands such as the pituitary and hypothalamus, or it might be a symptom of a genetic disorder. Age is also a contributing factor to reduced testosterone levels, as the hormone naturally declines in the body after the age of fifty.
How is it Diagnosed and Treated?
Many men find the problems associated with low testosterone difficult to admit to and may be embarrassed to seek advice from a medical professional. However, it is a relatively common condition, and there are many options available to treat the symptoms through hormone replacement therapy. This works by increasing the amount of circulating testosterone in the blood stream, and there are several options available.
Supplements: Often in pill form these are taken up to three times a day to maintain a steady level of testosterone. Testosterone undecanoate is the recommended chemical basis for these pills, as they do not have the same adverse effect on the liver as other synthetic testosterones.
Boosters: These are injections of synthetic hormone taken every ten to twenty-one days, which means that they are more convenient and do not require you to remember to take tablets. However, because the level of hormone starts off high and then falls, rather than remaining steady, it can induce mood swings and irritability.
Creams, Gels and Patches: Water based gels applied to the skin, often the torso, arms and legs, allow testosterone to be absorbed steadily through the skin and maintain a relatively constant level of hormone in the bloodstream. The main disadvantage is that the treatment can rub off on other people through close physical contact.
All of these options can be discussed with your general medical practitioner, and treatment of the symptoms can often begin straight away. However, as with many conditions there is often an underlying cause to low levels of testosterone, and you are likely to be referred to a specialist in order to determine the reason for your hormone imbalance. Although this can be a worrying experience, it is essential in order to give yourself peace of mind and to improve your overall health through successful treatment.