Low testosterone affects almost 40% of men aged 45 and older. It is difficult to define normal testosterone levels, because levels vary throughout the day and are affected by body mass index (BMI), nutrition, alcohol consumption, certain medications, age, and illness Low testosterone (male hypogonadism) is a condition in which the testes (testicles, the male reproductive glands) do not produce enough testosterone (a male sex hormone). In men, testosterone helps maintain and develop:
What causes low testosterone? As a man ages, the amount of testosterone in his body gradually drops. This natural decline starts after age 30 and continues (about 1% per year) throughout his life. There are many other potential causes of low testosterone, including the following:
What are the symptoms of low testosterone? Symptoms of low testosterone depend on the age of person, and include the following:
Other changes that occur with low testosterone include:
How is low testosterone diagnosed? Low testosterone is diagnosed by measuring the amount of testosterone in the blood with a blood test. It may take several measurements to determine if a patient has low testosterone, since levels tend to change throughout the day. The highest levels of testosterone are generally in the morning, near 8:00 a.m. This is why doctors prefer to measure testosterone levels in the early morning
How is low testosterone treated? Low testosterone is treated with testosterone replacement therapy, which can be given in several different ways:
The side effects of testosterone replacement therapy include:
Laboratory abnormalities that can occur with testosterone replacement include:
If you are taking hormone replacement therapy, regular follow-up appointments with your physician are important:
What are the benefits of testosterone replacement therapy? Potential benefits of testosterone replacement therapy may include: - in boys, avoiding problems related to delayed puberty.
Can low testosterone be prevented? There are no known ways to prevent low testosterone that is caused by genetic conditions or damage to the testes or pituitary gland. A healthy lifestyle that includes good nutrition, exercise, weight management, and that avoids excessive use of alcohol and drugs can help keep testosterone levels normal.
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