When your body slows down its natural production of the hormone testosterone to the point where you are experiencing the signs and symptoms of deficiency, it’s time to see your doctor. Testosterone deficiency is associated with the symptoms of decreased energy, decreased libido, mood disturbances and a decreased sense of well-being. It is also associated with metabolic abnormalities such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, as well as decreased bone density (osteoporosis).
Because testosterone is the hormone responsible for a man's sex drive, low testosterone may also be associated with erectile dysfunction (ED), but it is not usually the sole cause — another reason you should seek your doctor’s help. There are many health conditions that display similar symptoms.
Sleep apnea, a common health problem, mimics the signs and symptoms of low testosterone. El Camino Health designed a leading-edge, state-certified sleep lab to better evaluate these patients. Many men with low testosterone or sleep apnea go undiagnosed because their doctors only check for one of these conditions, even though there is a strong correlation between the two.
At El Camino Health, we are experts in evaluating the possible causes for the way you feel. We offer a complete spectrum of safe and effective treatment options and will work with you to find the one that suits you best.
While you can’t reverse time or boost your natural testosterone production, you can:
- Be open and honest with your doctor. Here at Men’s Health, we’ve created a confidential environment where you can feel comfortable speaking frankly about your symptoms, including sexual issues. A man’s health is complex and needs to be thoroughly discussed for the best diagnosis and treatment.
- Choose a healthy lifestyle. Boost your chances for better health with a well-balanced, nutritious diet and daily physical activity — both of which will improve your mood, energy and help maintain muscle strength and mental sharpness.
- Seek help for mood changes. In men, depression can exhibit itself through increased aggression or irritability. Beware of self-medicating by abusing alcohol or other substances.
- Avoid quick fix options. Make sure you are evaluated by a board-certified urologist or endocrinologist. Avoid the widely advertised “Low T,” “Wellness” and “Longevity” clinics that offer costly remedies not covered by health insurance. The herbal supplements they typically sell haven't been proven safe or effective for aging-related low testosterone and might even be risky. Most importantly, they often neglect comprehensive health evaluations for serious related issues. See your doctor for a complete medical evaluation you can trust.
Low testosterone shares symptoms with many other causes, such as prescription drug side effects, a thyroid problem, depression or excessive alcohol use.
The most common symptoms of testosterone deficiency are:
- Decreased energy
- Decreased libido (sex drive)
- Erectile dysfunction (ED)
- Loss of muscle mass, increased body fat
- Decreased exercise tolerance
- Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia or increased sleepiness
- Change in mental acuity or cognitive function (ability to think clearly)
- Emotional changes, like sadness or depression
Testosterone levels vary greatly among men, and some men have a lower than normal level without signs or symptoms. To diagnose a low testosterone level — known also as testosterone deficiency syndrome, low T, andropause and late-onset male hypogonadism — your doctor will look at the results of a blood test coupled with your symptoms.
Testosterone replacement therapy has been shown to improve the symptoms of deficiency. While each treatment option offers sufficient levels of hormone replacement, they also have different advantages and disadvantages, which your doctor will discuss with you. Options include:
- Transdermal delivery (a patch worn on the skin of the body or scrotum).
- Topical gels (applied on the surface of the skin).
- Injections given every two to three weeks.
- A pellet inserted subcutaneously (under the skin).
- Gum and cheek putty applied above the teeth twice a day.
In the case of erectile dysfunction, simply treating low testosterone alone is only sometimes a cure. However, hormone replacement therapy along with other treatments for underlying health conditions may help you get stronger erections.