You probably first heard about testosterone when you reached puberty and your parents, or perhaps a health class teacher, explained the physical changes you were going through. And certainly you’re aware that testosterone fuels your sex drive and your ability to achieve an erection.
But did you know that testosterone is intimately tied with many aspects of your physical health? Your physical strength and lean muscle mass, and even your mood are intricately linked to testosterone. Keep reading to learn more about this vital hormone, how important it is to your health, and how you can get the treatment you may need right here in Dallas, Texas.
The Basics About Testosterone
As the primary male hormone, testosterone fuels puberty, turning boys into men through helping their penis and testicles develop and growing body and facial hair. In adults, testosterone powers the male sex drive, and it’s responsible for the production of sperm.
All this happens through the interaction of the pituitary gland and the testes. The pituitary gland sends a message to the testes to produce testosterone, and, in most cases, the testes respond.
But testosterone isn’t responsible just for male sexual characteristics and function. It also helps you build muscle mass and physical strength, and it regulates your fat distribution. In addition, testosterone is important to maintaining bone density and protecting against fractures.
Testosterone and Men’s Health
Testosterone is important for your sexual health, of course, but it plays a big part in your overall health in many ways.
Muscle Mass and Testosterone
When you hit puberty, you were probably excited as you realized you were starting to put on muscle mass. Unfortunately, the reverse happens as you age and your body’s testosterone production decreases. You lose muscle mass and start to see it replaced by fat, especially abdominal fat. Testosterone replacement therapy can help you retain the muscle mass of your youth and even increase it. The lean muscle mass you gain through testosterone replacement therapy also increases your overall energy levels.
Weight Loss and Testosterone
That lean muscle mass that testosterone helps deliver also makes it easier for you to lose weight. Testosterone juices your metabolism, helping your body take energy from food efficiently. It also keeps your energy levels high, which makes you more likely to work out and stay active — and in turn, that will help you maintain a healthy weight as well. When testosterone levels decline with age, on the other hand, you may start to see yourself gain weight, especially around the abdomen.
Puberty and Testosterone
Sometime between the ages of 10 and 15, you started to get taller. Your voice got deeper. You started to grow hair all over your body, including your pubic region, your armpits, and, most noticeably, your face. And, as you were very aware, your penis and testicles grew to man-size — and you started to think about sex.
All those visible signs of puberty aren’t the only work that testosterone does as a boy turns into a man. Your body starts to shift its fat distribution around during your early teens, and you were certainly aware that you were getting stronger. You couldn’t see it, but your red blood cell production took a big leap forward at puberty, and you started to produce sperm as well.
Emotional Well-being and Testosterone
You might have heard people talk about revved-up testosterone as a factor that fuels anger. In actuality, low levels of testosterone have been implicated as a factor in mental health issues that include depression and irritability. A lot of other factors are involved in issues surrounding your mood, of course. But men who undergo testosterone replacement therapy often find themselves emotionally healthier and more stable.
Bone Density and Testosterone
As you lose testosterone with age, your bones start to lose bone mass and bone mineral density. Brittle bones are why older men are more prone to fractures as they age. Older men are also more likely to come down with osteoporosis, a disease characterized by loss of bone density. You can maintain bone strength and health through testosterone replacement therapy, which has a positive effect especially in the hips and spine.
Your Brain and Testosterone
The higher your levels of testosterone, the less likely you are to turn up with Alzheimer’s disease as you age. Men with higher testosterone levels also show better spatial memory, coordination, and visual-motor skills. Testosterone replacement therapy can, in many cases, help you retain cognitive skills.
Your Heart and Testosterone
When your testosterone levels are healthy, you’re more likely to avoid a stroke or heart attack. That’s in part because testosterone plays a role in the production of red blood cells, which deliver oxygen throughout your body. When your testosterone levels fall with age, your risk of heart disease increases. The mechanism by which testosterone replacement therapy is still being researched, but preliminary research shows that added testosterone helps to enlarge arteries to enhance blood flow.
Your Sexual Health and Testosterone
Yes, we saved the best for last. You probably don’t need to be told about the importance of testosterone to your sexual function and health. It fuels your desire to have sex, your ability to sustain an erection and your fertility. When your testosterone levels are high, you’re more able to experience arousal and to achieve an erection. Erectile dysfunction and low libido, on the other hand, are very often side effects of low testosterone levels.
What Happens if Testosterone Levels Are Too High
Excessively high levels of testosterone in men are rare. However, if they occur, they can result in some very negative health conditions. These include cardiovascular conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and an increased risk of blood clots and heart attack. Men with high testosterone also have a higher risk for liver disease as well as edema. In addition, they can experience men’s health issues that include shrinkage of the testicles, enlargement of the prostate gland and low sperm glands.
What Happens if Testosterone Levels Are Too Low
High testosterone may be rare, but low testosterone levels are not. As men age, their testosterone levels drop about 1% per year, beginning in their 30s. About 33% of men have testosterone deficiency by their mid-40s.
Most men with low testosterone start to suspect something is wrong because they experience various sexual side effects. Their sex drive, or libido, may decrease, so that they’re not easily aroused or just find themselves uninterested in sex. They may also experience erectile dysfunction, finding it difficult to achieve or sustain an erection. In addition, many men with low testosterone levels are infertile or have a low sperm count, and some experience shrinkage of the testicles.
However, those aren’t the only effects of testosterone deficiency. Because testosterone affects the whole body, the effects range throughout the body, even if some of them seem silent. One of the most serious side effects is osteoporosis, or low bone density, which can result in brittle bones and fractures. Men also see their muscle mass decrease, along with their overall physical strength and energy. Many men are plagued by mood changes, irritability and depression, sometimes accompanied by overall fatigue.
Side effects of low testosterone that are more visible include a loss of facial and body hair, along with enlarged breasts. In addition, many men find themselves gaining weight, especially around the belly, as they lose muscle mass.
While many of these symptoms can be present without any testosterone deficiency, if they co-occur with any of the more obvious sexual effects, it’s a good idea to get your testosterone levels checked.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy: The Low Testosterone Solution
If you suspect you have a testosterone deficiency due to the symptoms you’re experiencing, you should see a doctor for the simple blood tests that can confirm your condition and answer the questions you may have been wondering about for a while.
Not every man who experiences the symptoms of testosterone deficiency is an appropriate candidate for testosterone replacement therapy. However, if testosterone therapy is right for you, it could help you move past symptoms that you’re aware of and even some that you may not be aware you have.
You have several options in terms of delivery systems for testosterone replacement therapy. Your doctor can help you choose the type of therapy that best suits your lifestyle. Your options include:
- Testosterone injections: You can have testosterone administered this way at the doctor’s office, or you can perform the injections yourself into your buttocks. The shot delivers testosterone for about a month, so you don’t have to think about whether you’ve had your dosage on a regular basis.
- Testosterone gels: You rub this gel on your arm every four days. The testosterone is absorbed through your skin. While this method of delivery is great for men who want to be in control of their treatment, you have to be careful to keep the gel away from anyone else (including children) who might rummage around your medicine cabinet.
- Testosterone patches: This choice is similar to the gel method of delivery, but a little less method. Similar to a nicotine or seasickness patch, these patches are replaced weekly and deliver testosterone through the skin.
- Testosterone pellets: You’ll have to go to your doctor’s office in Dallas for this type of testosterone replacement therapy. Your doctor will place these pellets under the skin of your buttocks (don’t worry, they’re not obvious). They release testosterone gradually over three to six months without any muss or fuss.
Men’s Health in Dallas, Texas
At Texas Men’s Health Group, we care about all of you, and we’re ready to help you see how your testosterone levels affect your overall health. If you show signs of low testosterone levels, we’ll handle all the testing you need in a safe and discreet manner. We’ll also talk you through all your options and help you decide of testosterone replacement therapy is the right choice.
Contact us today to see how we can help you restore your health and well-being.