Aging men should not dismiss unexplained, bothersome symptoms. These manifestations might not be a simple byproduct of growing older, but of a potentially serious condition known as low testosterone.
The following article discusses what testosterone is, specific medical conditions that may precipitate diminished bodily levels of the chemical, the early symptoms that might occur as a result that should alert men to seek medical attention and treatments that may be available to curtail or eliminate the issue.
What Is Testosterone?
This chemical is the primary male reproductive hormone. The substance holds numerous important functions throughout a man’s life. However, arguably the hormone’s most well-known task is fostering the growth of a boy into a man. When a boy reaches adolescence, his body secretes large quantities of the hormone which results in physical manifestations like increased muscle mass, bone expansion, the maturity of the sexual organs, hair growth and the development of libido (sex drive) and eventually sexual performance.
As men age, bodily concentrations of this critical hormone naturally decline, but typically at a reduced rate and do not result in any major problems. There are, however, certain circumstances under which the prevalence of this substance drops precipitously and has the potential to manifest into troubling, if not serious health issues.
What Conditions Elicit Disturbing Cases Of “Low-T?”
A diminished hormone, commonly referred to as “low-T,” can be brought on by any number of medical conditions.
There has been some debate in the medical community over whether andropause can truly be considered a medical ailment. Nicknamed “male menopause” by some, there are doctors, scientists and researchers who believe this phenomenon is a growing health concern that precipitates low-T. Andropause is believed to begin in men aged 45 and older and, like most maladies that cause the diminished production of the hormone, resulting in symptoms including weight gain, muscle wasting, decreased libido, hair loss, anxiety, depression, erectile problems, fatigue and even menopause-related manifestations like night sweats and hot flashes.
Almost all other instances of low-T are the result of a medical condition known as hypogonadism (where the testicles diminish or cease production of male hormones). Such illnesses include, but are not limited to testicular injuries, cancer treatments like chemotherapy and/or radiation which can damage the testes, various kidney disorders, certain kinds of medications and specific immune system diseases that interfere with the body’s natural hormone production.
The symptoms of low-T often occur subtly. Therefore, men do not seek medical treatment for such manifestations until situations such as where obesity has lead to heart disease, bone deterioration precipitates a fracture or more serious presentations of other illnesses appear. It is crucial for men to realize that andropause and other low-T-inducing ailments can be treated and long before they result in any serious problems.
Treatments For Low-T
Low-T can be treated with a variety of different methods. Should the condition be the result of a secondary ailment of which diminished hormone is a manifestation, a physician might first prescribe a therapeutic protocol designed to address the specific illness.
In some cases, treatment is aimed at addressing specific associated symptoms. However, in more severe instances, or those in which more serious health complications have arisen, hormone replacement therapy might be needed. In these circumstances, a doctor will prescribe his or her patient hormones that can be administered through various techniques, including orally, through the skin or even directly into the bloodstream with injections. Hormone therapy carries health risks such as blood clots and/or strokes. Therefore, this form of treatment should be carefully considered and closely monitored once begun.