What is testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone. For men, it is primarily produced in the testicles. It is most often associated with sex drive, but also plays a role in bone and muscle mass and can affect how the body stores fat. Even a mans mood can be impacted by testosterone levels.
It seems as if recently we have heard a lot about Low T. That is the more popular name for a condition known as testosterone deficiency, or hypogonadism. This deficiency can be seen through laboratory findings as well as through physical symptoms, which may include:
In addition to the typical symptoms of Low T, men who have below normal levels of this hormone may experience a sense of ill-being, foreboding, or feeling as if something is terribly wrong, but not knowing what. Men may also report fatigue, inadequate sleep, increased irritability, and poor mood.
If a man exhibits symptoms of testosterone deficiency, the best way to confirm is with morning blood tests, drawn on two separate days, to measure the levels of testosterone. If both tests show levels below 300 ng/dl (nanograms per deciliter), the diagnosis may be confirmed.
There are two types of low testosterone. The first is due to reduced production of testosterone from the testes, known as classical, or primary hypogonadism. This often appears in younger men, from conditions such as testicular cancer, testicular trauma or torsion (strangulation), or a congenital condition.
The second is decreased stimulation of the testes from the pituitary gland within the brain. This is known as secondary hypogonadism and it occurs more often in middle-aged and older men. This is the kind of Low T that is usually associated with obesity and other medical conditions described above.
The basis of Low T may be inflammation due to the other diseases present with Low T, or some men may have a genetic predisposition to low testosterone levels. Not all men with low levels will show the signs and symptoms of testosterone deficiency.
Like with so many other conditions, weight loss, adequate regular physical activity, and a healthy diet are the best ways a man can prevent Low T. Weight loss can also help men to improve other medical problems that are associated with Low T, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and elevated lipids or blood fats.
Fortunately, there are several options for treatment of Low T. To be most effective, a healthy diet and exercise is recommended with any form of testosterone treatment.
It is important for a man to be checked when he is showing signs of testosterone deficiency. If Low T is left untreated, men often experience a sense of impending doom, poor health, and fear. Men may also experience increased weight gain in the mid-section, have difficulties with focus and concentration, poor motivation, reduced memory, and perhaps difficulty engaging with others.
Men should seek medical attention when clinical signs and symptoms are present and before illness progresses too far. Men notoriously wait until the last moment to seek medical care. It is recommended that men see a physician once every three years until age 40, every two years after age 40, and every year or two after age 50, or more often as needed for managing other medical conditions.
It is important to remember that help is available. If you are experiencing signs of Low T, our Mens Health Center, now celebrating its 10th anniversary, can help. Learn more about our center here.
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