The Role of Testosterone in Men’s Health

Testosterone is vital to a man’s sexual function, of course — but you may not realize how important it is to many aspects of male health. Your muscular strength, your weight, your bone health and even the way you feel emotionally on a day-to-day basis are all tied up with the testosterone coursing through your bloodstream.

Keep reading to see just how important your testosterone levels are to your overall health and well-being and how men in Dallas, Texas can keep their testosterone levels healthy.

The Basics About Testosterone

Testosterone is the hormone that essentially turns boys into men at puberty. While the testes produce testosterone, it’s controlled by the pituitary gland, which sends a signal to the testes when more testosterone is needed. The production of testosterone ramps up at puberty but starts to decline naturally beginning in one’s 30s, with testosterone diminishing by about 1% per year from that point on.

From puberty on, testosterone plays a vital role in male health. It helps maintain bone density and muscle mass, and it’s also a key factor in fat distribution. And, of course, it regulates sperm production, erectile function and men’s sex drive or libido.

Why Testosterone Matters to Male Health and Well-Being

You’re well aware of the role testosterone plays in driving men’s libido and sexual function, of course. But it’s crucially important to several other bodily functions.

Your Bone Health

Testosterone plays a key role in bone density, keeping bones healthy and strong. Loss of testosterone, whether due to aging or to contributing factors such as cancer or chemotherapy, can make you more likely to break a bone. Men also become more prone to osteoporosis as their testosterone production drops. Although this disease is often associated with women’s health, men can also lose bone mass through osteoporosis. The good news is that testosterone replacement therapy can help restore bone density.

Your Heart Health

When your testosterone levels are healthy, you’re less at risk of major cardiovascular events, such as strokes or heart attacks. This may be in part because testosterone promotes good blood flow through opening arteries up. (Erectile dysfunction is often a result of the hardening or tightening of arteries supplying blood to the penis, reducing blood flow). Testosterone also promotes red blood cell production.

Your Weight

Testosterone boosts your metabolism and your energy levels. That higher energy may encourage you to work out more, and the higher metabolism helps burn off calories. When your testosterone starts to decline with age, your metabolism slows, so extra calories accumulate as fat. And your decreased energy means you may be less active, so you’re not burning off the calories you’re eating. As a result, you may experience weight gain.

Your Muscle Health

Testosterone plays a key role in promoting lean muscle mass. You start to see this when you hit puberty and begin to build muscle. But as you head toward your middle years, the decrease of natural testosterone production can result in the loss of muscle mass and strength. When fat starts to replace the lean, strong muscles of your teen years and your 20s, testosterone replacement therapy may be able to help.

Your Emotional Health

With all the roles that testosterone plays within your body to promote physical strength and well-being, it’s easy to forget that it also affects your emotions. While scientists aren’t fully on top of the mechanisms by which testosterone affects mood, studies show a clear link between testosterone deficiency and mental health issues, including irritability, anger and depression.

Your Brain Health

Those emotions you experience are tied up with what’s going on in your brain — and testosterone plays a role there, too. You may notice, as you age, that your memory is fading just a bit, especially when it comes to verbal processing (finding the right word, for instance). Your visual-motor skills are probably not what they used to be, and your coordination is affected as well. All those cognitive changes are linked to the loss of testosterone that comes with age. With higher levels of testosterone, you have some protection against Alzheimer’s disease and your spatial memory is more likely to stay strong.

Your Sexual Health

Let’s get to the obvious area of health affected by testosterone — some would say the most important! — your sexual health. Without testosterone, sexual function ceases. You can’t achieve or sustain an erection, and you lose the sexual desire that makes you care about sex in the first place. On the flip side, with high testosterone levels, you can expect to experience healthy erectile function and sexual arousal.

What Happens If Your Testosterone Levels Are Too High?

This is not usually something to worry about, because it’s rare. But when a man’s testosterone levels are higher than the normal range of 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter, his health can be negatively affected. Health risks of overly high testosterone include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Testicle shrinkage
  • Edema (dangerous fluid retention) and swelling
  • Acne
  • Blood clots
  • Heart attack
  • Headaches
  • High cholesterol
  • Aggression and anger
  • Enlarged prostate gland
  • Liver disease
  • Weight gain

What Happens if Your Testosterone Levels Are Too Low?

This situation is far more common than having overly high testosterone levels. Most men who experience testosterone deficiency find it creeping up on them in their 30s or 40s. Because men’s hormone levels typically drop about 1% per year, many men aren’t aware of what’s going on in their body. But by age 45, about 33% of men have low testosterone levels.

If you suspect you have low testosterone levels, chances are it’s because you’ve noticed some sort of sexual dysfunction. Maybe you’re just not that interested in sex anymore. Possibly you’re having some difficulty sustaining or even achieving an erection. If you and your partner have been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant, you may be diagnosed with a low sperm count.

Those aren’t the only results of low testosterone, however. You may find that low testosterone levels are behind any of these symptoms:

  • Decrease in muscle mass and physical strength
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Depression
  • Loss of facial hair and body hair
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Increased body fat, especially around the belly
  • Enlarged breasts

In addition, you could be suffering from physical changes that you’re not aware of, such as brittle bones and osteoporosis that can result from low testosterone. Many of these symptoms have a wide range of causes, of course. But if you’ve experienced sexual dysfunction and you’re also aware of any of the above symptoms, it may be time to have your testosterone levels checked.

The Primary Answer to Low Testosterone: Testosterone Replacement Therapy

If you’re experiencing several of the symptoms associated with testosterone deficiency, it’s time to get your testosterone levels checked. The blood test used to check for low testosterone is simple, and you can get your answers within a few days — answers that help you figure out how all these disparate symptoms are related.

Not every man with these symptoms or who is diagnosed with testosterone deficiency is a good candidate for testosterone replacement therapy. However, for most men, it offers a welcome solution that provides a fresh start in so many ways. With testosterone replacement therapy, you can raise the testosterone levels in your blood back up to the normal range. With normal testosterone levels once again, you’ll start to see many of the above symptoms gradually disappearing.

What to Expect With Testosterone Replacement Therapy

If your blood tests reveal that your testosterone levels fall below normal, your doctor will talk to you in detail about your options. Testosterone replacement therapy can be delivered in several different ways, so you can choose what works best for your body and lifestyle. The choices you’re offered vary in how testosterone is delivered and in how often you need to take action to keep your testosterone levels high. From the longest-lasting to the most high-maintenance, here are your basic choices.

Testosterone Pellets

This method of testosterone delivery lasts 3 to 6 months, making it ideal for the man who doesn’t want to think about his testosterone levels. However, you’ll have to head to your doctor’s office or men’s health clinic for the insertion of the pellets. Your doctor will place them under your skin, typically in your buttocks, where they won’t be noticed. As the pellets dissolve over a period of several months, they release precise doses of testosterone into your blood.

Testosterone Injections

Depending on the dosage that your doctor recommends, these injections can deliver testosterone for up to a month. The shots go into your buttocks. While you’ll probably want to start off going to your doctor’s office for the initial injections, many men learn to administer their own shots, making them a fairly simple and non-time-consuming method of treatment.

Testosterone Gels and Patches

These treatment systems are designed for you to handle them yourself at home. You apply either the testosterone gel or a testosterone patch (similar to a nicotine patch) to your upper arm. Expect to repeat the treatment every 4 to 7 days or so. The patch has to stay on your arm, making it less than ideal for men who bare their arms frequently. Further, you must handle the gel carefully as it may be dangerous if anyone else gets their hands on it. So, men with children at home often opt for the patch.

Trust Your Health to Texas Men’s Health Group

At Texas Men’s Health Group, we are committed to your health — your whole health. And that includes the symptoms of low testosterone that you may be experiencing. We have the expertise and experience to treat men in Dallas, Texas, who need testosterone replacement therapy. Contact us today to see how we can help you feel healthy and strong again.