Whether you are a male or a female, you probably know something about the much talked about, much joked about female menopause. However, some doctors are starting to talk about the possibility of their patients having male menopause. While female menopause centers on a woman’s ovaries producing less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, male menopause centers on a man’s testicles producing less of the hormone testosterone.
Testosterone levels naturally decrease over a man’s life
|Low Testosterone Facts
• 1 in 3 men over the age of 45 has low testosterone.
|• Low testosterone is common in men who are obese, have high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, HIV or those who use chronic pain medication.
|• Low testosterone leads to decreases in sexual desire and is sometimes associated with
low energy or depressed mood.
span, peaking when a man is about 30. Typically testosterone levels decline about 1 percent a year after the age of 30 and by the mid-40s the levels may be low enough that treatment is necessary.
Testosterone is important at maintaining hair growth, muscle mass, and healthy bones. Its presence enhances libido (sexual desire), and affect’s a man’s mood and energy level. Testosterone levels play a role in erectile function, prostate growth and function, and it influences how the body distributes body fat.
Testosterone is also found in females in trace amounts. Just as in men, testosterone promotes sexual desire and sexual responsiveness in women. Testosterone also influences the breakdown of fat; therefore, deficiency may predispose women to weight gain. Testosterone levels in women are highly influenced by the other female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. Thus, low testosterone levels in women may be the result of a multi-hormonal dysfunction.
The good news is that having low testosterone levels is a treatable condition. We call the condition hypogonadism.
Symptoms of low testosterone may include the following:
- Decrease in strength and endurance
- Loss of height
- Fewer strong erections and decrease in sex drive
- Sad or grumpy feelings
- Deterioration in work performance
- Falling asleep right after dinner
Any of the above symptoms should prompt a visit to your healthcare provider to discuss your condition. Ultimately, you should take a blood test to determine if you have low testosterone levels. Preferably, you should have the test done in the early morning (around 8:00 a.m.) as the body produces the highest amount of testosterone in the morning. Low testosterone is diagnosed when levels are less than 300 ng/dl (total testosterone).
If a test determines that your testosterone level is low, your healthcare provider must perform an evaluation to determine if the low levels are the result of the sex organs failure to simply produce steroid hormones (primary hypogonadism) or whether there is a problem outside of the sex organs. Problems outside the sex organs include a brain tumor which may cause the production of testosterone to be interrupted (secondary hypogonadism).
Primary hypogonadim is the most common cause of low testosterone. There are several treatment options to address low testosterone. They include the testosterone topicals (gels /solutions) which are applied to the body on a daily basis according to the manufacturer’s instruction, injectable testosterone (typically given once a week), testosterone dermal patches (not often used), and more recently testosterone pellets (inserted into the buttocks typically giving adequate levels of testosterone for about four months). If you do have low testosterone, a discussion with your healthcare provider will determine which option is right for you.
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