Low testosterone or hypogonadism as it is medically known, affects more than five million men in the United States today. Testosterone, the male hormone is produced mainly in the testicles and is necessary for the normal development and growth of the male body.
During puberty boys will begin to develop male characteristics such as a deepening in their voice, maturation and growth of their male organs, development of body hair, sperm production, sexual drive and desires, and development of muscle mass and physical strength. Throughout the male lifetime testosterone is the main contributing hormone to a healthy body composition and healthy sexual function in the male.
Some of the causes of low testosterone in the male body can be related to different factors such as, genetics, testicular injury or infection, exposure to toxins, chemotherapy, radiation, diabetes, aids, and the most common reason, aging.
The symptoms experienced by men with low testosterone include tiredness and fatigue, a loss of interest in sex, erectile dysfunction, depression; a loss of physical strength and muscle mass, decreased bone density, which can increase the risk for osteoporosis, and an increase in abdominal fat, along with the difficulty of concentration.
Diagnosis and Treatment
It is advised to contact a family physician to diagnose hypogonadism and to have a complete physical examination and a blood test that will reveal the level of testosterone present in the body.
The physician will make a determination based on his findings and move forward from there for treatment. Depending on the findings, the physician will begin Testosterone Replacement Therapy or they may recommend that you see a urologist or an endocrinologist.
There are different treatment options for Testosterone Replacement Therapy which are available to normalize testosterone levels in those who are experiencing hypogonadism. The three most common treatments available are intramuscular injections (which are given at 2-3 week intervals), testosterone patches that are applied daily, and an easy and convenient gel that is rubbed onto the skin daily. These medications are only available by prescription from a physician who will work with the patient for just the right dosage.
With Testosterone Replacement Therapy the patient will have improved bone density, increased muscle mass, decreased body fat, improvement of erectile dysfunction and sexual performance, and an increased in sexual drive.
There are some possible side effects to testosterone therapy such as an increase in red blood cell count (this can occur with intramuscular injections in men who smoke), a significant reduction in sperm count, an increase in prostate size, and sleep apnea. Keep in mind that not all patients will be affected by the side effects that are noted.
The good news is that with diagnosis and treatment of low testosterone a man can live a healthier, happier, and fuller life.