Testosterone is a sex hormone that is important for normal male sexual development and function. Approximately 40% of men age 45 and older are thought to be affected by low testosterone levels, which can cause a number of symptoms such as fatigue, sexual dysfunction, and mood changes. Testosterone replacement therapy can help to increase testosterone levels in order to improve the negative symptoms associated with the condition.
Testosterone is produced primarily in the testicles. Levels of testosterone typically peak during adolescence and early adulthood and then gradually decline with age. This hormone is important for a number of things including regulating sex drive, building and maintaining bone and muscle mass, fat distribution, sperm production, the growth of facial and body hair, and the production of red blood cells.
Some men can experience low testosterone levels which can be caused by a number of different factors. It is also more common in men who have type 2 diabetes or are overweight. Other factors contributing to low testosterone include stress, testicular injuries, testicular cancer, hormone disorders, metabolic disorders, chronic liver or kidney disease, HIV and AIDS, and certain medications. Low testosterone can also simply be due to the decline of normal aging or hypogonadism – a condition where the testes produce little to no testosterone.
Low testosterone levels can have a negative impact on overall well-being and cause many symptoms including decreased sex drive, sexual dysfunction, fatigue, mood changes, reduced lean muscle mass and bone density, and infertility. Symptoms can vary and may be caused by other factors not directly linked to low testosterone. Talk to your doctor if you experience any symptoms linked to low testosterone, who will be able to investigate and identify the cause. A blood test can be used to diagnose low testosterone levels.
Testosterone replacement therapy can be used to alleviate symptoms by helping testosterone levels return to normal. Not everyone is a candidate for treatment, and it may not be recommended for men who do not have any key symptoms (such as sexual dysfunction or fatigue). Also, if you do not have a medical condition contributing to low testosterone, your doctor may recommend certain lifestyle changes such as dietary changes, stopping smoking, losing weight, and cardiovascular and resistance-based exercises in order to try to boost testosterone levels naturally.
Types of Treatment
Testosterone replacement therapy is available in a variety of forms including patches, gel, oral therapy, pellets, and injections, and the best delivery method will depend on factors such as convenience, cost, and personal preference. Your doctor will help you decide which method is best suited to your needs.
· Patches – a patch containing testosterone is applied each night to the torso or thigh area.
· Gel – Testosterone gel is pumped into the nostrils and is usually applied twice in each nostril, three times daily. This type of testosterone treatment can reduce the risk of medication being transferred to another person such as through skin contact.
· Oral therapy – A putty-like substance is applied to the buccal cavity (the area above your top teeth where your gum meets your upper lip), to allow testosterone to be absorbed into your bloodstream. It is usually applied three times a day.
· Pellets – This type of treatment involves surgically implanting testosterone pellets under the skin every three to six months.
· Injections – Testosterone is delivered via an injection into muscle or under the skin.
Side Effects of Treatment
Testosterone replacement therapy can have some risks, and treatment should be overseen by your doctor to closely monitor the effectiveness and to observe for any side effects. Patches can sometimes cause severe skin reactions, and oral therapy can lead to gum irritation. Side effects from testosterone injections can vary depending on the type and frequency of injections. Risks of treatment can include:
· Sleep problems and worsening sleep apnea
· Acne or other skin and gum reactions
· Enlarged breasts
· Causing testicles to shrink or limiting sperm production
· Increased production of red blood cells, which contributes to the increased risk of forming a blood clot
Discuss the risks and benefits of treatment with your doctor. Usually, testosterone levels are measured at least twice before testosterone therapy is recommended. Generally, most men feel improvement in symptoms within four to six weeks of taking testosterone replacement therapy but an increase in muscle mass may take longer.
Treatment for Low Testosterone in Phoenix, AZ
If you are concerned about low testosterone or would like to find out if you are a candidate for testosterone replacement therapy, speak to the experts at Ironwood Urology. We specialize in men’s reproductive and sexual health and our fellowship-trained urologist, Dr. Avila, can determine what is causing your low testosterone and help regulate the level of testosterone in your body. To find out more about our services, call us at (480) 961-2323 or you can request an appointment online.