In recent years, Spyros Mezitis, MD, PhD, has found himself talking to a lot more male patients about low testosteronea 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.
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. 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. But awareness and appreciation of low testosterone has risen.
We recognize now that low testosterone may be at the root of problems. 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. Low testosterone scores often lead to drops in bone density, meaning that bones become more fragile and increasingly prone to breaks.
Treatment is sometimes considered if you’re experiencing symptoms related to low testosterone.
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If a young man’s low testosterone is a problem for a couple trying to get pregnantgonadotropin 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. Testosterone treatment can raise a man’s red blood cell count as well as enlarge his breasts.
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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.
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What Is Testosterone and Why Does It Decline? Testosterone is a hormone. Doctors will want to rule out any such possible explanations for symptoms before blaming them on low testosterone. Low Testosterone: How Low Is Too Low? 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. Some medicines and genetic conditions can also lower a man’s testosterone score. Hedges agrees and warns that even if a man does not have symptoms, he may be well advised to seek treatment. Having a gradual decline in your testosterone level as you age is to be expected. What Are the Risks and Benefits of Testosterone Treatment? There are also risks. Spyros Mezitis, MD, PhD, endocrinologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York.
Jason Hedges, MD, PhD, urologist, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Ore. The Hormone Foundation: “Low Testosterone and Men’s Health. The Hormone Foundation: “Patient Guide to Androgen Deficiency Syndromes in Adult Men.
Patient Education Institute: “Low Testosterone Reference Summary. Are You Ready to Quit Smoking? Health Insurance: The Facts. Exercise Tips for Diabetes. Is Stress Making Your MS Worse? Talk with Your Doc About ED. Slideshow: A Visual Guide to Low Testosterone. Slideshow: Natural Ways to Boost Testosterone. Is Low Testosterone Affecting Your Life? The Truth About Testosterone Quiz: Low Testosterone and Aging in Men. Could Your Man Have Low Testosterone? How Low Testosterone Affects Your Health.
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