Testosterone is the hormone that gives men their masculine traits. It is responsible for a number of male (and some female) characteristics, including:
- Muscle mass
- Voice changes in puberty
- Body hair
- Bone mass
- Penis size
- Sperm production
- Sex drive
Low levels of testosterone can lead to a decline in sex drive or to erectile dysfunction. Other symptoms of low testosterone may include fatigue, decreased muscle mass, low sperm count, insomnia, hair loss, increased breast size, and depression.
Seminar: Understanding Low Testosterone
Urology San Antonio Community Education Seminar
By age 55, 1 man in 3 will experience symptoms of low testosterone sometimes known as andropause or “male menopause.” Symptoms include: diminished sex drive and performance, lack of energy, depressed mood, decreased muscle mass and strength. In this seminar Dr. Jones explains the causes, symptoms, testing process and treatment for low testosterone.
A decrease in sex drive and a decrease in the frequency of spontaneous erections are normal parts of aging. However, a complete lack of interest in sex or a continuing inability to get or maintain an erection may be cause for concern.
Low testosterone by itself rarely causes impotence, but it can be a contributing factor when combined with other causes of erectile dysfunction, such as:
- Metabolic syndrome
- High blood pressure
Causes of Low Testosterone
There are a number of things that can cause a decrease in testosterone levels, including:
- Age (testosterone levels begin to slowly decline after age 30)
- Damage to the testes (trauma, disease, radiation therapy, chemotherapy)
- Diseases that affect the pituitary gland or hypothalamus (cancer, AIDS, tuberculosis)
- Drugs (anabolic steroids, morphine)
- Genetic disorders
Diagnosing Low Testosterone
Low testosterone is diagnosed with a blood test, following a history and physical examination.
Treating Testosterone Deficiency
Hormone replacement therapy, also known as testosterone therapy, is a treatment for low testosterone. The non-surgical option for administering this therapy is medication that can be given in the form of an injection, a patch that’s worn on the skin, a skin gel, or a patch that’s applied to the gums.
For patients looking to benefit from long-term natural hormones, testosterone pellets can painlessly placed in the fatty tissue underneath the skin though a simple surgical procedure. Pellet therapy is a natural remedy for hormone treatment, and can improve erectile dysfunction. The pellets, which are smaller than a grain of rice, contain a natural plant resource of estrogen and testosterone. For men, pellet therapy achieves the same level of testosterone that would normally be produced by the testicles. Once inserted, the pellets begin to release testosterone into the bloodstream to balance testosterone levels.
Video: Testosterone Pellet Insertion Demonstration
Testosterone Therapy Risks
There are some risks associated with hormone replacement therapy for testosterone deficiency. For example, there are certain diseases or conditions that can be made worse by testosterone therapy. If you have any of the following diseases or conditions, testosterone therapy may not be right for you:
- Enlarged prostate (BPH)
- Prostate cancer
- Congestive heart failure
- Sleep apnea
- High red blood cell count (erythrocytosis)
For more information on ED caused by low testosterone, contact Leroy Jones, MD, urology specialist of San Antonio.