Low testosterone, often called “low T,” is a common problem for men over the age of 30. Testosterone has many important functions such as regulating your sex drive and helping you maintain healthy bones, so low T has been linked to mood changes, low energy and other negative symptoms. If you have these symptoms, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. You may be a candidate for testosterone replacement therapy, which increases the amount of testosterone in your blood.
Benefits of Testosterone Replacement Therapy
It’s clear that low testosterone levels can have a big impact on your life. The good news is that you don’t have to resign yourself to these changes. Testosterone replacement therapy, commonly called TRT, can reduce or eliminate these symptoms, leaving you feeling much better about yourself.
What Is TRT?
TRT is the use of testosterone-replacement drugs to treat low testosterone levels in men. If you’re a good candidate for TRT, you may use pellets, patches, injections or gels to increase the amount of testosterone in your body.
As your testosterone level increases, you should notice an improvement in your mood and sex drive. TRT may also help reverse the changes in body composition associated with low testosterone.
Is Testosterone Replacement Right for You?
Before you start testosterone replacement therapy, it’s important to visit a healthcare professional. Just because you have the symptoms of low testosterone doesn’t mean you have a lack of testosterone in your blood.
Many health conditions can cause low sex drive, mood changes, sexual problems and changes in body composition. A blood test confirms whether your testosterone level is lower than it should be for a man your age.
It’s also important to identify the cause of your low testosterone level. If it’s a natural decline due to aging, you may be able to start TRT right away. If it’s due to a health problem that affects the testicles or the endocrine system, you may need other treatment before you can start addressing the symptoms of low T.
Are You a Candidate?
You may be a good candidate for TRT if you’re struggling with reduced energy, low libido, mood changes, increased body fat or other symptoms of low testosterone. Testosterone replacement therapy may also be appropriate for men with diabetes or metabolic syndrome, a combination of health problems that increase your risk for diabetes, stroke and heart disease. These problems include high blood sugar, high blood pressure, increased cholesterol levels and excess fat around the waist.
If you have these symptoms and your doctor confirms that you have a lower-than-normal amount of testosterone in your blood, you also need to be willing to use TRT regularly. As soon as you stop using TRT, your testosterone level will start to decline. If you’re committed to taking TRT as prescribed, then it may be a suitable option.
TRT does have some side effects such as acne, breast soreness and swollen feet, but many men tolerate these side effects without difficulty. You shouldn’t take TRT if you have a history of sleep apnea, untreated heart problems or high red blood cell counts.
Effects of Low Testosterone in Men
Once your testosterone level declines, you may feel a little sluggish. Low testosterone has also been linked to the following symptoms. TRT can help counteract these effects.
When you think of testosterone, you probably think of the role it plays in maintaining your sex drive. This is an important role, but testosterone has several other functions. For example, the hormone is involved in the production of red blood cells and the maintenance of bone and muscle mass. If you have low testosterone, you may experience bone loss, which weakens the bones and makes them more prone to fractures.
Changes in Body Composition
Since testosterone is involved in the maintenance of bone and muscle mass, you may also notice changes in your body composition. Increased body fat, reduced muscle mass and loss of muscle strength are just a few of the changes associated with low testosterone.
Testosterone is a sex hormone, so any changes in your testosterone level can also affect your sexual functioning. Low testosterone has been linked to low libido (sex drive), low sperm count and difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection.
Low levels of testosterone can even affect your mood and behavior. For example, you may feel depressed or have difficulty concentrating. Some men with low testosterone even have feelings of hopelessness. Low testosterone levels are also associated with insomnia, which may worsen mood-related symptoms during your waking hours.
Causes of Low Testosterone
Sometime between the ages of 30 and 40, your testosterone level begins to decline. This is a natural process caused by changes in the testicles and in the part of the brain responsible for regulating testosterone production. Your testosterone level may also decline as a result of certain health problems.
Your endocrine system regulates hormone production, giving it an important role in many of your body’s most critical processes. The hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, both located in the brain, are directly involved in testosterone production. When your hypothalamus releases gonadotropin-releasing hormone, your pituitary gland responds by releasing luteinizing hormone. This second hormone travels to the testicles and stimulates the production of testosterone.
Any health problem that affects the hypothalamus or pituitary gland can interfere with the release of GnRH or LH, leading to reduced testosterone production. Some men also have low testosterone levels due to problems with the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck.
Thyroid problems can affect the amount of free testosterone in a man’s blood or limit the amount of binding globulin available. Binding globulin is what carries testosterone throughout the body, so if you don’t have enough of it, you may have a lower-than-normal amount of testosterone in your blood.
Health Problems Affecting the Testicles
The testicles are the site of testosterone production, so testicular cancer, testicular injuries and other problems affecting the testicles can also affect the amount of cholesterol circulating in your body. This is because the testicles contain specialized cells designed to respond to the presence of luteinizing hormone. Anything that damages these cells can cause low testosterone. Some men also develop low testosterone after chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer, both of which can damage the cells involved in testosterone production.
Obesity causes many changes in the endocrine system, increasing the risk of low testosterone in some men. For example, obesity is associated with insulin resistance, a condition that makes it more difficult for your body to use glucose properly. Insulin resistance can reduce the amount of binding globulin available, limiting the amount of testosterone circulating in the blood.