BEVERLY HILLS – In the male body, testosterone is the most important sex hormone. Testosterone is responsible for development of male characteristics such as body and facial hair, muscle growth and strength, and a deep voice. Normal levels of testosterone also influence the production of sperm, promote sexual function and promote sex drive.
We now know that some men’s bodies do not make enough testosterone. These men may experience uncomfortable and sometimes distressing symptoms. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that 4 to 5 million American men may suffer from low testosterone, but only 5 percent are currently treated.
SYMPTOMS OF LOW TESTOSTERONE
As men get older, the ability to produce testosterone declines. This decrease in testosterone production is sometimes referred to as andropause or “male menopause.” If testosterone levels fall below the normal range some typical symptoms may include:
· Low sex drive
· Erectile dysfunction (
· Increased irritability or depression
· Reduced muscle mass and strength
· Inability to concentrate
· Decreased bone density; osteoporosis
In addition to age-related low testosterone, there are certain medical conditions that can cause low testosterone. These medical conditions can begin in youth or in adulthood, and can affect testosterone levels throughout a man’s life. Some of these conditions are associated with the testicles, pituitary gland and/or hypothalamus (a part of the brain that controls many of the body’s glands). Occasionally, the problem can be genetic.
In younger men, low testosterone production may reduce the development of body and facial hair. Muscle mass and genitals may not develop normally, and younger men’s voices may fail to deepen.
BE SURE TO GET SCREENED
If you experience symptoms associated with low testosterone, you may want to ask your doctor about getting your testosterone levels checked. Your primary care physician can check your testosterone levels with a simple blood test and treat you if you have low testosterone. You might also ask your primary care physician about a referral to an endocrinologist or urologist who specializes in treating conditions such as low testosterone.
Regular checkups and age-appropriate screenings can improve your health and extend your life. Consider adding regular screening for low testosterone to other screenings as part of your checkup.
IF YOU HAVE LOW TESTOSTERONE
If you do have low testosterone, the good news is that the condition is treatable. There are several FDA-approved testosterone replacement therapies, including:
* Clear gel that you rub on your arm every morning
Talk to your doctor about which option may be best for you.