Low Testosterone – what causes it?
What causes testosterone deficiency?
Testosterone is a hormone produced by the testicles and is responsible for the proper development of male sexual characteristics, and is important for maintaining muscle bulk, adequate levels of red blood cells, bone density, sense of well-being, and sexual and reproductive function.
Inadequate testosterone production is not a common cause of erectile dysfunction (ED). When ED does occur with decreased testosterone production, testosterone replacement therapy may improve the ED.
As a man ages, the amount of testosterone in his body gradually declines. This natural decline starts after age 30 and continues throughout life. The significance of this decline is controversial and poorly understood.
Symptoms of testosterone deficiency:
- decreased sex drive
- decreased sense of well-being
- depressed mood
- difficulties with concentration and memory
- erectile dysfunction
What are the changes that occur in the body with testosterone deficiency?
Changes that occur with testosterone deficiency include:
- a decrease in muscle mass, with an increase in body fat
- variable effects on cholesterol metabolism
- a decrease in hemoglobin and possibly mild anemia
- fragile bones (osteoporosis)
- a decrease in body hair
How do I find out if I have a testosterone deficiency?
The only accurate way to detect the condition is to have your doctor measure the amount of testosterone in your blood. It sometimes may take several measurements of testosterone to be sure if a patient has a deficiency, since levels of testosterone tend to fluctuate throughout the day. The highest levels of testosterone are generally in the morning. This is why doctors prefer, if possible, to obtain early morning levels of testosterone.
What options are available for testosterone replacement?
The options available for testosterone replacement are:
- intramuscular injections, generally every two or three weeks
- testosterone patches worn either on the body or on the scrotum (the sac that contains the testicles). These patches are used daily. The body patch application is rotated between the buttocks, arms, back or abdomen.
- testosterone gels that are applied daily to the shoulders, upper arms, or abdomen.
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