SharpFacts About Low TestosteroneSubmitted by SharpHealth Team on Sunday 10th October 2010
- What exactly testosterone does for you.
- How to tell if you may have low testosterone.
- Low testosterone fixes and prevention.
Men and testosterone go hand in manly hand. Yet did you know testosterone begins noticeably decreasing around age 30, and it is estimated that more than 20 million men have lower-than-average levels of testosterone? Could you be one of them? Check out these SharpHealth facts about the signs and symptoms of low testosterone:
Testosterone’s Manly Responsibilities
Testosterone claims the proud credit for making you the man you are. That facial and body hair are just a few of the contributions testosterone has made to your masculinity (got too much? See SharpGrooming’s feature on Removing Back Hair). It is also responsible for the development of your male sex organs.
In addition to making you manly, testosterone helps your sex drive and contributes to your overall energy. In addition, this powerful hormone can affect fat levels, moods, bone mass and sleep. Equally important is the fact that testosterone helps a SharpMan’s insulin function more efficiently, thereby making you less likely to develop diabetic symptoms, including impotency.
In fact, testosterone is not one hormone, but a group of testosterone types, all working together.
Signs and Causes of Low Testosterone
Low testosterone can manifest itself in many different ways throughout your body. Signs you should be aware of include:
- Weight gain in the abdominal area ("central fat gain")
- Loss of pubic hair
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Having a hard time sleeping
- Decreased sex drive
- Depression or lack of motivation
- Poor recovery from exercise
- Decreased ability to gain muscle mass
If you experience one or more of these symptoms on an ongoing basis, consult your physician.
All men begin slowly losing testosterone at age 30; by age 50 most SharpMen have lost 50% of the testosterone levels at which they peaked. Because testosterone loss is "natural" and gradual, many SharpMen don’t believe they are deficient — they blame the physical and mental changes on hard work and the slow march of time.
However, if you recognize one or more of the symptoms described above, consider looking into testing your testosterone levels. A physician’s help can aid you in restoring or elevating your levels of testosterone. The first step is making an appointment with a general physician (your regular doctor). Once there, your physician will test your blood to determine what your testosterone levels are, and compare your results to a "standard" range.
With regard to a "standard" range, remember that this range is meant to accommodate a very broad spectrum of men. What may be "normal" for one SharpMan may be dramatically too low for another. For this reason, you must balance a "normal" result with your own sense of what’s going on in your body. After all, your perfect testosterone level may be at the high end of standard, and if you’re suddenly at the low end — that’s a dramatic deficiency!
For the purpose of testing, realize that testosterone levels are highest in the morning and fluctuate throughout the day, so have your first and future tests done at about the same time of day. If possible, get a test of your "free" or "bio-available" testosterone and your dihydrotestosterone (DHT), as well. The tests for these other "types" of testosterone are as common as testing total testosterone, but in the aggregate, these tests are considered more accurate. Additionally, it is advisable that your doctor test you for estradiol, a female hormone also produced by men (just as women produce testosterone), as your levels of this hormone will help determine your best course of treatment.
Even if you are not experiencing any of the signs of low testosterone, it may be a good idea to get your levels tested. You will be glad you did later, if your sex drive takes an unexpected turn for the worse or you start to develop a spare tire in spite of your efforts at exercise. You will know what your level was when you felt your best in order to compare to future test results.
Low Testosterone Fixes
Once you’ve been tested and have received verification that your set of master male hormones has dropped to less than optimal levels, you may be a candidate for testosterone replacement therapy. The options available are injectables, tablets, transdermal systems and, arguably the best form, the gel.
Injectables. This is not the option for the SharpMan who hates needles, but it is a viable option. Testosterone is injected and retained in muscle tissue, and the shots are required only once a week or every other week.
Pills. Pills are thought to have the most potential for negative medical effects, but they are still an option. Some require large doses that must be taken several times a day, which may be difficult for SharpMen with busy schedules.
The Patch. This is a nice choice because it gives you options. You can either go with the system in which the patch is applied to the scrotum or with a system where the patch is applied to an appendage or the torso. The patch is time-released and must be changed daily. One of the benefits of the patch is it raises testosterone only to a "normal" level, unlike injections which can raise it to higher levels.
Gel. Recently approved by the FDA, the new AndroGel is the latest and possibly the greatest option for testosterone replacement therapy. This clear topical gel is applied once a day to the shoulders, upper arms or abdomen. It is absorbed by the skin, dries quickly and normal testosterone levels are restored soon after it is applied. Many doctors prefer the gel over other methods, because it allows a SharpMan to individualize the dose given to you — as often as you apply it.
If your testosterone is not low but fears of future falling levels are creeping in, there is good news. There are things you can do to prevent a drop in your testosterone levels. Most of the steps to prevention are things you should be doing anyway:
Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Don’t cut out fat or eat excessive amounts of protein. Focus on getting a majority of your carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables and try to include essential fats such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
No low-cholesterol diets! Be aware that your body does not have the ability to produce normal hormone levels in the absence of fats — so keep your cholesterol levels moderate (i.e., not too low, not too high).
Exercise regularly. This means not too much or too little. Going to the extreme in either direction can negatively affect your testosterone levels.
Keep stress at bay. When you get too stressed out, your body produces more adrenaline and less testosterone.
Take your vitamins. Vitamins such as zinc and Vitamin C are essential in maintaining healthy levels of testosterone.
Any SharpMan seriously considering testosterone replacement therapy should read the following highly recommended title. Why bother? Many general practitioners — and some so-called "specialists" — are not up on the newest information regarding testosterone therapy; your independent knowledge will help you get the answers you need:
The Testosterone Syndrome: The Critical Factor for Energy, Health, & Sexuality–Reversing the Male Menopause by Eugene Shippen & William FryerThis article last updated on Sunday 10th October 2010