Testosterone is the main sex hormone in men that regulates sex drive; produces sperm; and causes a deeper voice, bigger muscles and growth of body hair.
Forty percent of men older than age 45 have low testosterone levels. This can be due to normal aging, or it can be caused by obesity, hypertension, diabetes, pain medications, steroids, statins or antidepressants.
Symptoms of low testosterone include:
- Decreased energy, motivation and concentration
- Decreased interest in sex
- Erectile dysfunction
- Sleep disturbances
- Increased body fat
- Decreased muscle mass
- Loss of body hair
“While many men have low testosterone, only a small percentage of men experience symptoms,” says Mitchell L. Ogles, MD, urologist at Saint Francis Medical Center. “If you notice these symptoms, the first step is to see your primary care physician, who will determine whether your symptoms are due to a more serious problem.”
If not, then your doctor may suggest testosterone replacement. Testosterone replacement therapy is available in several forms, including injections, gels and skin patches.
“For men who experience severe symptoms, testosterone replacement can improve their sex drive and give them more energy,” says Ogles. “It can also improve bone density, muscle mass, insulin sensitivity and depression symptoms.”
“However,” Ogles continues, “there are significant risks to testosterone replacement. We do not fully know the long-term effects of this type of therapy. We know it can shut down sperm production, damage the liver, worsen prostate cancer and cause urinary problems. It also may cause heart problems.”
It is important that you talk to your doctor to decide if testosterone replacement therapy is right for you. He or she can perform blood tests to determine whether your levels are borderline or very low.
For more information, call 573-331-3000.