We’ve all read or heard the quotes about testosterone—the sex hormone that’s gotten a bad rap socially but is something we can’t live without medically. Testosterone isn’t only important for male health; females need it too, although in much lesser amounts.
Belligerence, aggression, heightened energy and intense emotion are all hallmarks of high testosterone levels—but what happens when your levels are lower than normal?
As men and women age, all hormones -not just testosterone and estrogen- tend to decrease, leading to all sorts of physical complications for both genders: thinning of bones, loss of muscle mass, change in body shape, decreased libido, insomnia, and hair loss.
Low testosterone in men is primarily defined by the American Urology Association “as less than 300 nanograms (ng) of the hormone per deciliter (dl) of blood.” They also state that about 2 in every 100 men have low testosterone.
The symptoms which men (and some women) will experience are as follows:
- Hair Loss
- Both men and women can go bald or experience receding hairlines
- Bone Loss and Muscle Mass
- Testosterone aids in the production of bone mass and muscle. When it becomes depleted, fractures are more likely to ensue.
- Reduced Libido and Erectile Dysfunction
- During depletion, the sex drive grinds to a halt. It is often coupled to erectile dysfunction; the will and skill are non-existent.
- Sleeplessness and Fatigue
- Interrupted sleep patterns and lowered energy cause fatigue and restlessness
- Testicle Changes:
- Testiclular size decreases, as does the amount of semen produced.
- Excess Body Fat
- That tire around your belly isn’t the only thing you need to worry about. Testosterone deficiency can also cause gynecomastia (breast enlargement) in men.
- Real Changes in Mood or Mood Swings
- Just as women experience hot flashes due to estrogen loss, so do men with inadequate levels of testosterone!
- Reduced Mental focus and clarity, irritability, anxiety and depression can occur.
Oddly enough, low testosterone does not always present with symptoms, and patients will only learn about it after a routine physical examination and blood tests. However, if you do experience one or more of the symptoms listed above, see your doctor. Depending on your symptoms and level of discomfort, the doctor can prescribe Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT), which is delivered via a patch, gels, pills or injection. Once on TRT, patients can expect to experience relief from their symptoms within one month to six weeks. However, as with all medications, there may be side effects, so discuss whether or not TRT is for you.
Dr. Legato advises taking vitamin D supplements for bone health and eating more nutrient rich foods that can boost your testosterone levels naturally such as fortified cereals, shellfish, oysters, tuna and beef liver, among others.
While low testosterone levels aren’t life threatening; they are life diminishing. Improve your quality of life by eating right, exercising and monitoring any changes in your health. And, if changes occur, see your doctor.
Strategic Communications Professional/Content Strategist/Marketing Communications Consultant