Men produce the majority of their testosterone in their gonads (testicles), and a smaller amount in their adrenal glands. Testosterone is known as an androgen, a hormone that is responsible for many male characteristics such as facial hair, sex drive, and higher relative muscle mass than females. Testosterone levels normally fluctuate (sometimes literally fluctuating between night and day), and men typically produce about 7mg of testosterone in a 24-hour period. As you age, testosterone levels naturally begin to fall. Research shows that roughly 2 out of every 10 men over the age of 60 have low testosterone, or low T. That number jumps to 3 out of every 10 for men between the ages of 70-80.
Low T can cause a wide range of symptoms when testosterone levels fall below 300 ng/dl (nanograms per deciliter). The normal range for healthy men is usually between 300-1000 ng/dl. The signs of low T can be easily overlooked, or attributed to other causes, because symptoms in many cases can be quite subtle. The first sign is often a decrease in sex drive or an inability to achieve and sustain an erection (known as erectile dysfunction or ED). It should be noted that ED or a lower sex drive and may have other causes related to natural aging (ED can also be related to high blood pressure, smoking, stress, depression, diabetes, or even anxiety).
Low T levels can occur naturally with age, however low T can also be caused by chemo or radiation therapy, certain medications such as steroids, injuries to the testicles, liver disease, diabetes, kidney disease, or pituitary disorders.
Symptoms of Low-T can Include:
Reduced sex drive
· Low semen (in volume)
· Feelings of depression or mood swings
· Gynecomastia (Swelling or tenderness of breast tissue in males)
· Hair loss
· Lower bone density (causing an increase in risk of bone fractures)
· Decreased muscle mass
· Decrease in body hair
· (ED) Erectile dysfunction
· Sleep apnea or irregular sleep patterns
· Lower sperm production and male infertility
· Weight gain due to changes in fat distribution
· Decreased red blood cell production
Low T is a medical disorder and needs to be diagnosed and treated by a qualified physician. Some cases may not require treatment, while in other cases testosterone replacement therapy may be recommended as part of an overall men’s health plan. And, if you are trying to become pregnant, since low T can cause a decrease in sperm production as well as volume, a man with low T may not be able to father a child.
To learn more about low T treatment and testosterone replacement therapy in the Phoenix area, visit Dr. Desiderio Avila, Jr., a specialist in men’s health. If you, or a loved one have questions about men’s health, please contact Dr. Avila at (480) 961-2323 or request an appointment online today.