Testosterone is often mentioned in men and aging. It’s one of the many substances in the body that perform a vital service yet take for granted. What is testosterone, and what’s its purpose? Why do men experience falling testosterone levels, and what can be done about it?
All of these questions and more will be answered in the following article, so let’s start by looking at what testosterone is and why it is essential.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone and one of many found in the male body. It is found in women but in far smaller quantities. Often known as the ‘male hormone’ – the female equivalent being estrogen – it is responsible for the development and performance of many aspects of a man’s body. These include but are not limited to:
- Enhancing male sexual development.
- Being part of the process in the reproductive function.
- Building muscle bulk.
- Maintaining healthy levels of red blood cells.
- Maintaining bone density.
The levels of testosterone in men differ per individual, but low testosterone levels – although not strictly dangerous – can hurt a man, including:
- Low sex drive (libido)
- Erectile dysfunction
- Fatigue and poor energy level
- Decreased muscle mass
- Body and facial hair loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Low sense of well-being
The problems listed above are all potential triggers for further conditions. For example, hair loss and losing body mass and shape can lead to social anxiety and a loss of self-confidence. The sexual elements may damage a relationship and cause the man some distress, and depression can have extremely serious side effects.
This is why testosterone therapy for men is an important subject and should be discussed with a doctor. Let’s move on to find out why levels of testosterone in a man start to reduce.
Why do Testosterone Levels Fall?
There has been plenty of research into why testosterone levels fall, and it would seem there are two main areas of influence: natural aging and the individual’s lifestyle.
The production of testosterone does reduce as a man ages. This is a simple biological fact. How fast and how much it reduces depends on the individual, as does the age at which it begins to slow down.
However, some researchers have suggested that lifestyle and habits can also affect. Smoking tobacco is known to affect testosterone production, as is an excess of alcohol. Men who keep up a balanced dietary regime and an exercise routine will enjoy better testosterone levels than those who do not.
So, we can say that if a man is to undergo a testosterone therapy course, he needs to also change his lifestyle to a healthy one, to cut down or stop smoking, limit alcohol intake and get regular exercise.
We listed above the symptoms of low testosterone levels, so let’s now move on to look at the testosterone therapy routine and how it is performed.
How is Testosterone Therapy Performed?
Testosterone therapy aims to replace some of the lost testosterone, which can be done in several ways, each of which is successful and commonly performed. Methods of testosterone replacement include the following:
- Skin patch: skin patches are available from many brands and are placed on the body to enable the slow release of testosterone through the skin.
- Gels: There are many brands of testosterone gel that are usually applied to the skin once per day.
- Mouth patch: Mouth patches are applied inside the mouth delivering the gel into the bloodstream.
- Injections and implants: Testosterone can also be injected into the muscles, or an implant can be fitted that releases testosterone slowly into the system.
The appropriate method of testosterone replacement will be discussed at a consultation with a doctor who will recommend the one that meets the patient’s requirements. The benefits of testosterone replacement are many and may include:
- Improved energy levels.
- Restored sex drive.
- Better quality of erections.
- Increased bone density.
- Improved muscle mass.
- Better feeling all-round.
Testosterone replacement benefits men who are suffering from low levels, so what risks are involved in the treatment?
Are There Risks with Testosterone Therapy?
All medical procedures carry a risk, and although most relating to testosterone replacement are non-invasive, there are reported side effects that may occur. Though these risks are minimal, they are another reason to talk to a doctor about the treatment’s potential. Here are some of the risks involved:
- Frequent need to urinate.
- Outbreaks of Acne.
- Fluid retention problems.
The above are the most commonly reported side-effects, with the following less so but more problematic:
- Reduction in testicle size and low sperm count.
- Possible infertility.
- Enlarged breasts.
- Sleeping problems.
- Increased cholesterol levels.
- Greater red blood cell count.
There are no great dangers to any of the above, although a high red blood cell count is something you should discuss with a doctor as it’s a problem that can lead to further complications.
We started by explaining what testosterone is and that it is a hormone. Hormones can be considered chemical messengers; they carry messages that inform the organs and the neural system what to do. When the levels of a hormone start to reduce, the messaging communication decline. This is why testosterone loss leads to poor sexual performance, as the messages are not coming through.
Testosterone replacement therapy is essential as it restores the man’s ability to perform sexually and enhances his life enjoyment as he feels better on the whole. It can also help where relationships have been strained through lack of sexual performance and the man’s general poor well-being.
If you have noticed any of the signs of low testosterone that we mentioned earlier, it is strongly advised you talk to a doctor as soon as you can. They will help find the most appropriate treatment for your circumstances.