What Is Low Testosterone/Low T?
Low testosterone occurs when a man doesn’t produce enough of his own Testosterone. As many as 13 million men in the United States may have low testosterone and only 5-10% of these men will seek treatment. Symptoms may begin as early as the thirties and forties and most often by the fifties. The good news is there are treatment options available for Low T. Testosterone is an important male hormone. It is the hormone responsible for the development of male characteristics during puberty. It is also essential for maintaining healthy sexual function, energy, mood, and body composition.
Testosterone assists the male body in building protein and is crucial for normal sexual drive, physical stamina, and producing erections. Testosterone also contributes to several metabolic functions including bone formation, liver function, prostate gland growth and production of blood cells in bone marrow. Testosterone levels vary by age. If your levels are below 300 ng/dL, your physician may diagnosis low testosterone. While only a blood test can determine your testosterone level, men should always consult their physician if they are experiencing symptoms.
The signs and symptoms of Low T may be difficult to distinguish from the changes that occur with normal aging, or those caused by other medical conditions. If you have symptoms of Low T, make an appointment to talk with your doctor:
- Sexual dysfunction (unable to maintain erections)
- Reduced sex drive (reduced sexual activity)
- Decreased energy
- Loss of body hair, reduced shaving
- Depressed mood
- Increase in body fat
- Decrease in bone strength
- Reduced muscle mass
Often times the symptoms of low testosterone are subtle and very similar to those caused by other medical conditions. This may complicate diagnosing low testosterone. Symptoms are usually explained as “getting older”, when in reality the real medical problem may be low testosterone. Low testosterone may occur with other common medical conditions. If you have any of the following medical conditions, it is important to have your testosterone levels checked:
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Long term use of pain opioid medications
Testosterone replacement has become widely prescribed for men. A bioidentical hormone replacement doctor may be the expert in deciding how to optimize testosterone levels in men. Please take the ADAM Self-Test as a guide in determining if you have symptoms of Low T. ADAM (Androgen Deficiency in the Aging Male) questionnaire is adapted from Morley. Metabolism. 2000;49:1239-1242.
If you answered yes to question 1 or 7 or any 3 other questions, you may have low testosterone. A complete medical exam and blood test can determine your testosterone level. Print out the results of this survey and bring them to your next doctor’s visit. Remember, only your healthcare provider can determine if your symptoms may be due to low testosterone.