Testosterone is a hormone made by your body and is responsible for the normal growth and development of the male sex organs and for maintenance of other sexual characteristics. In men, testosterone is produced in the testes, the reproductive glands that also produce sperm. The amount of testosterone produced by the testes is regulated by the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. Some effects of testosterone may include:
• Growth and maturation of prostate, and other male sex organs
• Development of male hair distribution such as facial hair
• Changes in body muscle mass and strength and fat distribution
• Sex drive and sexual function
• Mood and energy level
• Bone strength
Low serum testosterone, also known as hypogonadism or Andropause, affects roughly 39% of men over the age of 45. The prevalence of low testosterone increases with age. Researcher have found that the incidence of low testosterone increases from approximately 20% of men over 60, to 30% of men over 70 and 50% of men over 80 years of age.
What are the signs of low testosterone in men?
There are both sexual and non-sexual signs and symptoms associated with low testosterone. Sexual symptoms include poor erectile function, low libido (desire for sex), weaker and fewer erections, and reduced sexual activity. Nonsexual symptoms include increased body fat, decreased energy and fatigue, reduced muscle mass, and depression.
How is low testosterone diagnosed?
In healthy men, testosterone levels (also known as T levels) between 300 ng/dL and 1000 ng/dL are considered normal. The brain and the testes work together to keep testosterone in this range. When levels of testosterone are below normal, the brain signals the testes to make more. When there is enough testosterone, the brain signals the testes to make less.
Low testosterone is diagnosed by a blood test. In order to treat a man for low testosterone, he should also have the signs and symptoms of low testosterone. Physicians will also likely check a PSA (a screening test for prostate cancer) and a hematocrit (a measurement of red blood cells in your body). A PSA is checked to make sure that the patient does not have prostate cancer and a hematocrit is checked because men receiving testosterone may experience an increase in their red blood cell count.
What are the treatment options for men with low testosterone?
There are many treatment options for symptomatic low testosterone. Testosterone replacement therapy may be in the form of skin gel, injections, long acting pellets, patches or oral inserts.