Testosterone is the key male sex hormone that regulates fertility, muscle mass, fat distribution, and red blood cell production. Testosterone is the hormone responsible for the development of male sexual characteristics.
When levels of testosterone drop below levels that are healthy, they can lead to conditions like hypogonadism or infertility. Without adequate amounts of testosterone, men become infertile. This is because testosterone assists the development of mature sperm.
Hypogonadism aka Low Testosterone is a condition in which the testes i.e the male reproductive glands does not produce enough testosterone.
When a man has low testosterone he will most likely experience:
reduced sex drive
low sperm count
enlarged or swollen breast tissue
As time goes by, these symptoms evolve into issues like;
loss of body hair
loss of muscle bulk
loss of strength
increased body fat
Chronic issues of low testosterone can lead to mood swings, reduced energy, testicular shrinkage.
Low testosterone affects almost 40% of men aged 45 and older. Because testosterone levels vary daily due to reasons like Body Mass Index (BMI), nutrition, alcohol consumption, medications, age, illness, it is difficult to define what the normal testosterone level should be.
CAUSES OF LOW TESTOSTERONE
As a man ages, the amount of testosterone in his body gradually drops. This natural decline starts after age 30 and continues (about 1% per year) throughout his life.
Other causes of Low Testosterone include;
Injury or infection of the testes (orchitis)
Chemotherapy for cancer
Excess iron in the body.
Dysfunction or tumors of the pituitary gland
Acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term) illness
Cirrhosis of the liver
Chronic renal (kidney) failure
Sarcoidosis (a condition that causes inflammation of the lungs and other organs)
Kallman syndrome (abnormal development of the hypothalamus, a gland in the brain that controls many hormones)
Klinefelter syndrome (a genetic condition in which a male is born with an extra copy of the X chromosome). Also called XXY syndrome
High levels of the milk-producing hormone prolactin
Obesity or extreme weight loss
Uncontrolled type 2 diabetes mellitus
Congenital defect (present at birth)
Obstructive sleep apnea
Estrogen excess (usually from an external or environmental source)
Previous anabolic steroid abuse
Severe primary hypothyroidism
Trauma (head injury)
Radiation exposure or prior surgery of the brain
SYMPTOMS OF LOW TESTOSTERONE
Symptoms of low testosterone include the following:
Low sex drive
Decreased sense of well-being
A decrease in hemoglobin and mild anemia
Difficulties with concentration and memory
Moodiness and irritability
Loss of muscular strength
Increased body fat
A decrease in body hair
Thinning of the bones (osteoporosis)
Breast development (gynecomastia)
HOW TO TEST FOR LOW TESTOSTERONE
Low testosterone is diagnosed by measuring the amount of testosterone in the blood with a blood test.
It may take several measurements to determine if a patient has low testosterone, since levels tend to change throughout the day.
The highest levels of testosterone are generally in the morning, near 8 a.m. This is why doctors prefer to measure testosterone levels in the early morning.
TREATMENTS FOR LOW TESTOSTERONE
Low testosterone is treated with testosterone replacement therapy, which can be given in several different ways:
Intramuscular injections (into a muscle), usually every 10 to 14 days;
Testosterone patches, daily applied to different parts of the body
Testosterone gels that are applied every day to the clean dry skin of the upper back and arms (the gels require care in making sure that the hormone is not accidentally transferred to another person or partner)
Pellets that are implanted under the skin every two months
HOW TO PREVENT LOW TESTOSTERONE
There are no known ways to prevent low testosterone but living a healthy lifestyle that includes good nutrition, exercise, weight management, and that avoids excessive use of alcohol and drugs can help keep testosterone levels normal.
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