What is testosterone?
Testosterone is the hormone one’s testicles produce that plays an important role in reproduction, growth, and maintenance of a healthy body. Testosterone levels in males help maintain and develop:
- sexual organs and genitalia
- muscle mass
- adequate levels of red blood cells
- bone density
- sense of well-being
- sexual and reproductive function
The hypothalamus and pituitary gland control the amount of testosterone the testicles produce and release. In order to test testosterone levels, see your doctor for a blood test.
What is low testosterone?
Low testosterone (male hypogonadism) is a condition where the testicles do not produce a sufficient amount of testosterone. This is common with age but can also be associated with men’s health conditions, including:
- testicle injury
- high blood pressure, blood sugar, and/or cholesterol
- sleep apnea
- kidney dysfunction
- and more
Typically, testosterone production tapers off naturally as men age, but other factors can cause low testosterone as well. Injury to testicles, cancer treatment, stress, or chronic conditions. The two most common disorders are: Testicular disorder or primary hypogonadism happens when something is wrong with the testicles that prevents them from making normal testosterone levels; and Pituitary/Hypothalamus dysfunction or secondary hypogonadism is a condition that affects testosterone and sperm production.
What are the signs?
Signs and symptoms of low testosterone vary widely in men, with some including:
- decreased sex drive
- weight gain
- less body and facial hair
- mood disorders, including anxiety and depression
- decreased muscle mass
- erectile dysfunction
Men may experience low testosterone for a long time, either thinking the symptoms are normal with age or not knowing the cause of the symptoms.
How is it diagnosed and treated?
If you have symptoms of low testosterone, see your healthcare provider and they will do a physical exam. Typically, blood tests are ordered to test the hormone levels in your body. The most common form of treatment is testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). TRT is a type of hormone therapy that uses synthetic testosterone to boost your blood testosterone levels and relieve symptoms. Different forms of TRT include:
- topical gels
- topical patches
- testosterone injections
- oral testosterone
- intranasal spray
- pellets (placed under the skin)
These different forms vary in the amount of doses and how often. Talk to your doctor today about what form of testosterone is right for you!