Testosterone is a steroid hormone that stimulates development of male secondary sexual characteristics. It is produced mainly in the testes, but also in the ovaries and adrenal cortex. Symptoms of low testosterone may include: low sex drive or libido, erectile dysfunction, fatigue and poor energy level, decreased muscle mass, body and facial hair loss, difficulty concentrating, depression, irritability, or low sense of well-being.
A low testosterone level by itself doesn’t need treatment. Men with symptoms of low testosterone and blood levels that confirm it as the cause of symptoms might consider testosterone replacement therapy.
Testosterone replacement therapy is available in several effective forms:
- Skin patch (transdermal)
- Mouth patch
- Injections and implants
Some experts believe that oral testosterone can have negative effects on the liver, so a testosterone pill might not be your best choice.
Benefits of testosterone therapy
Testosterone can increase bone density, muscle mass, and insulin sensitivity in some men. Many men report improvement in energy level, sex drive, and quality of erections, as well as an improvement in mood.
Risks of testosterone therapy
Side effects most often include rash, itching, or irritation at application site. There is evidence of an increased risk of heart attack or stroke, although large clinical trials have not yet been done. A few health conditions that testosterone therapy may worsen are:
- Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) – enlarging prostate that squeezes the urethra
- Prostate cancer
- Sleep apnea
- Blood clots
- Congestive heart failure
Anabolic steroids used by some bodybuilders and athletes contain testosterone or chemicals that act like testosterone. Doses used in testosterone replacement therapy only achieve natural levels of hormone in the blood. To boost the overall muscle-building (anabolic) effect, some athletes illegally use much higher doses of testosterone.
Ask the doctor
If you are suffering symptoms that suggest low testosterone, ask Dr. Nangrani to perform blood tests that can confirm the condition. If the test is positive, Dr. Nangrani will help you weigh the possible side effects with the intended improvements and therapies.
Patients using testosterone should seek medical attention immediately if symptoms of a heart attack or stroke are present, such as:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
- Weakness in one part or one side of the body
- Slurred speech