Low testosterone, or low T, is believed to affect around 14 million American men. It is more common in men over 45, and factors such as obesity, stress, and hormone disorders can contribute to the condition. The good news is that there are a range of effective treatments available for low T that vary depending on the underlying cause of the condition.
What Is Low T?
Low T, a condition also known as male hypogonadism, prevents the testicles from producing enough testosterone. Testosterone is the male sex hormone that is essential for sperm production and in stimulating the development of male characteristics.It also plays an important role in brain, kidney, liver, and bone health. When testosterone levels are low, it can lead to symptoms that may include:
- Low sex drive (libido)
- Erectile dysfunction
- Mood changes, such as depression or irritability
- Problems with concentration and memory
- Physical changes, such as an increase in body fat, reduction in body and facial hair, and a reduction in muscle mass and strength
- Decreased energy and endurance
- Male infertility issues (due to a low sperm count)
How is Low T Diagnosed?
If you have symptoms of low T, you should visit a urologist for diagnosis and treatment. To diagnose low T, your urologist will evaluate your health history, carry out a physical examination, and may order blood tests to assess testosterone levels and to try to establish the cause of your low T level.
There are a number of factors that can cause or contribute to low T, such as:
- Poorly managed diabetes
- Hormone disorders
- Use of certain medications, such as some antidepressants and cancer treatments
- Testicular injuries, infection, or cancer
- HIV or AIDS
- Chronic liver or kidney disease
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Congenital conditions
Treatments for Low T
In a majority of cases, low T is treated with testosterone replacement therapy. However, if there is an underlying condition thought to be contributing to the condition, treatment may focus on that. For example,treating and better managing chronic conditions, such as diabetes or sleep apnea, a weight loss program to shed excess weight, and lifestyle changes, such as giving up smoking to improve health.
Testosterone replacement therapy works to increase testosterone levels in the body to reduce the symptoms associated with low T. It is available in a variety of forms, and the best delivery method will depend on different factors, such as convenience, lifestyle, cost, and personal preferences. Your urologist will discuss with you the benefits and risks of testosterone therapy and which treatment would be best for your symptoms. The most popular low T treatments include:
- Testosterone injections–testosterone injections are administered under the skin or into a muscle every 1-2 weeks. This can be done yourself or by your provider. Long-acting testosterone injections are also available, which are administered every 10 weeks.
- Transdermal testosterone gel prescription medication – this is a topical treatment that is applied to the skin on a daily basis. It is one of the most popular types of testosterone treatment. Other transdermal testosterone treatments include creams, liquids, and patches.
- Testosterone pellets – these pellets, containing testosterone, are implanted under the skin every 3-6 months. They provide consistent and long-lasting testosterone therapy.
Other forms of testosterone therapy include buccal testosterone tablets, where sticky tablets are applied to the gums twice per day, oral (pill form) testosterone, and nasal gel, where testosterone gel is applied to each nostril, three times daily.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Testosterone replacement therapy can have some risks and side effects. Your urologist will closely monitor your treatment to observe for any side effects and to monitor its effectiveness. Contact your urologist for advice if you experience unwanted side effects.
Side effects of testosterone replacement therapy may include:
- Acne or oily skin
- Fluid retention (usually mild)
- Sleep problems and worsening sleep apnea
- Skin irritation or rash (topical testosterone)
- Allergic reactions (testosterone injections)
- Prostate enlargement, which may cause urinary symptoms, such as difficulty urinating
- Enlarged or tender breasts
- Limiting or interrupting normal sperm production
- An increase in red blood cell production, which contributes to an increased risk of forming a blood clot
Testosterone therapy can help improve symptoms associated with low T, such as increasing sex drive and sexual function, boosting energy, and reducing fatigue, however you should always discuss the risks and benefits of treatment with your urologist before starting treatment. Let your urologist know if you have a history of prostate problems, breast cancer, uncontrolled heart failure, or untreated obstructive sleep apnea, as this may prevent you from receiving treatment.
Low T Treatment Near Me 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, visit Ironwood Urology. Fellowship-trained urologist Dr. Avila can determine what is causing your low T and help regulate the level of testosterone in your body to improve your symptoms and quality of life.
At Ironwood Urology, we specialize in the complete evaluation and treatment of men’s health conditions. If you would like to learn more about our services, call us today at (480) 961-2323 or request an appointment online.