Nearly every man knows that testosterone is an important male hormone. Most men also know that as they age past 30, testosterone levels start to decline. However, just because low testosterone occurs naturally does not mean it is normal and healthy.
Given this, many men want to know if there are serious side effects of low testosterone. Also, should men be aware of any medical problems not usually associated with this condition?
Testosterone and Masculinity
Many hormones and manufactured in the human body and each performs a specific function. The most common hormone which concerns men is testosterone. Testosterone is a sex hormone which is produced in the testes or testicles. Although lacking testicles, even women produce testosterone, though in much lower quantities.
As boys grow to men, testosterone plays a key role in
- Penis growth
- Facial and body hair growth
- Voice pitch
- Muscle definition
- Bone density
As men, testosterone continues to play a key role in masculinity and sexuality. For instance, it is the hormone responsible for sperm production and sex drive. However, it is also responsible for fat distribution and red blood cell production.
Given the latter, low testosterone can clearly cause health problems so understanding the dangers is important.
What is low testosterone?
The proper term for low testosterone is Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome (TD). TD is diagnosed by your medical provider using an exam, review of symptoms and lab tests. The tests check the levels of testosterone in the blood, which should be above 300 nanograms per deciliter. A level lower is a possible sign of TD. Your doctor will consider if the symptoms and medical review indicate a diagnosis of TD. However, because testosterone levels can fluctuate over time even within a single day, your doctor is likely to request multiple blood tests.
Why is it important to test for low testosterone?
The need to test for TD varies by age and other factors. Although statistically, only about 2% of men have TD, this rate includes even young men. As previously noted, the rates of TD increase with age. Too, lower levels of testosterone have also been found to be higher in men who are overweight (30%) or have diabetes (24.5%).
However, given the dangers it would be imporant for any man with symptoms of TD to get tested.
What are the dangers of low testosterone?
Although there are numerous sexual concerns associated with lower testosterone levels, the greatest danger is a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. And because testosterone governs muscle and bone mass, older men are especially at risk of injuries when their testosterone levels drop. With less muscle to support movement and lowered bone density, broken bones become a very real concern.
Finally, if we recall that testosterone is involved in the production of red blood cells, many diseases common in older men may be rightly traced to TD. Some of these include anemia and cancers of the blood.
What are the signs or symptoms of TD?
As with any medical condition, Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome makes itself known though certain signs and symptoms. Although not intended to provide a guideline for medical diagnosis, the signs of TD may include:
- Lower self-confidence
- Difficulty concentrating
- Tender breasts and swelling
- Erectile dysfunction
- Increased body fat
- Reduced sex drive
- Hot flashes
If you experience any of these symptoms, it may be a sign of low testosterone or it could be something else. Only a medical practitioner can provide you with a proper diagnosis. However, if you would like to learn more prior to seeing your physician, there are ways to check this yourself.
How can you test for low testosterone?
Today there are numerous home tests on the market to check for low testosterone. Although a doctor will rely on a blood test, the at-home test kits use saliva. This is both convenient and less invasive. You simply swab your cheek and send the sample to the lab using a pre-addressed pouch provided in the kit.
Four simple at-home testing options may be found at Letsgetchecked.com. Many men with the symptoms of TD prefer this route because it allows them to avoid the multiple blood tests and uncomfortable questions from their doctor.
Whatever you decide, just know that low testosterone is not something to ignore. As with any malfunction of the body, TD should be dealt with before it can result in a serious medical condition.