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Signs, Symptoms and Treatment for Low Testosterone

As many as 13 million men have low testosterone (Low-T).

As a doctor, I see many patients deal with this. I myself have experienced it firsthand. It’s a common part of aging, but 90 percent of men with Low-T never receive treatment. That may be because most men are embarrassed by the condition, which causes low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, fatigue and other health conditions.

As a man, I understand that testosterone deficiency is no laughing matter and that it is intertwined with our ideas of masculinity. But as we get older, our bodies change. Testosterone, a male hormone produced in the testicles, plays an important role in sperm production and the development of muscle and bone mass. Most men produce the highest levels of testosterone in their 20s, but these levels decline with age beginning at 30 or 40.

Low-T is not a one-size-fit-all problem. Many things can contribute to Low-T, including diabetes, obesity, chronic illnesses and hormonal changes. When people often think of low testosterone, they think of its effect on a man’s libido, but it also can affect our bone density, muscle strength, red cell production, sleep, the production of facial and body hair and how the body distributes fat.

If you are fatigued, have high cholesterol, high blood pressure or Type 2 diabetes and are experiencing poor sleep or changes in your sex drive, you should consider getting a blood test to check your testosterone levels. Depending on your age and symptoms, your doctor will determine whether your levels are too low. If they are, certain treatments can help. Testosterone replacement therapy is one of the most effective treatments for Low-T. The therapy comes in several forms. You can wear an Androderm skin patch on your upper body or arm to increase testosterone levels or apply a mouth patch twice a day for the same purpose. Other people use testosterone gels or take injections to increase their levels. All these treatments can reverse many of the symptoms associated with Low-T, but talk to your doctor about which treatment will work best for you. Lifestyle changes also may help to control symptoms. Getting more exercise and eating a balanced, nutrient-rich diet will increase your energy levels and combat fatigue, a common symptom of Low-T.

Low-T is more common that you think. And while I understand why many men who may have this condition are hesitant to visit a doctor, that embarrassment shouldn’t prevent you from getting proper treatment. It didn’t stop me and it shouldn’t stop you. So, pay attention to the warning signs, especially if you’re a man of a certain age. If something feels wrong, don’t hesitate to visit the doctor and get checked out.

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