Testosterone is a hormone that plays a crucial role in bodily functions. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in men, testosterone is "thought to regulate sex drive (libido), bone mass, fat distribution, muscle mass and strength, and the production of red blood cells and sperm."
While testosterone levels can change throughout a man's life, many men's testosterone levels drop 1 to 2 percent per year beginning in their 40s, and about 50 percent of men over age 80 have low testosterone. The American Urology Association (AUA) identifies low blood testosterone (also known as "Low-T") as less than 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). It's important to note that certain conditions and medications, such as diabetes, alcoholism, obesity, or drugs containing hormones, can hasten the decline of testosterone levels.
The accompanying symptoms of Low-T can affect a man's health, well-being, and relationships. Talk to your doctor if you notice any of the following:
- Reduction in sex drive
- Loss of body hair
- Reduced erectile function
- Changes in mood (depression or anxiety)
- Weight gain
- Reduced muscle mass
- Loss of strength
- Thinning of the bones
Your doctor can perform a simple blood test to measure the amount of testosterone in your blood. Testosterone levels tend to be the highest in the morning and lower throughout the day, so your doctor will most likely want to draw blood before noon. If your testosterone levels measure less than 300 ng/dL, your doctor may talk to you about testosterone replacement therapy to manage your symptoms.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, testosterone replacement therapy can be given in several different ways:
- Injections. Intramuscular injections usually given every 10 to 14 days
- Patches. Testosterone patches, which are used every day and are applied to different parts of the body, including the buttocks, arms, back, and abdomen
- Gels. Daily testosterone gels applied to the clean, dry skin of the upper back and arms
- Pellets. Testosterone pellets are implanted under the skin every two months, usually around the hips or buttocks.
Harvard Health reports that most men feel improvement in symptoms within four to six weeks of testosterone therapy.
This article is for informational purposes only. If you think you are suffering from low testosterone, please speak to your physician.
Sinclair Broadcast Group is committed to the health and well-being of our viewers, which is why we initiated Sinclair Cares. Every month we'll bring you information about the "Cause of the Month," including topical information, education, awareness, and prevention. June is Men's Health Education and Awareness Month.