Testosterone is a hormone secreted by the bodies of both men and women, but the female body normally produces it in very small quantities, while in the male body, it is among the most important hormones, responsible for male characteristics, such as body hair, bone mass, muscle bulk and physical strength. Women can have their levels checked by a hormone replacement therapy Denver doctor to make sure all is in balance.
Testosterone levels in the male body are not constant throughout life – after the age of 30, the body starts secreting less and less of the hormone (the decrease is usually around 1% per year). The natural process can go unnoticed by some men, but it can cause uncomfortable symptoms for others, prompting them to look for treatment options that could bring their testosterone levels back to where they used to be.
The Symptoms and the Causes of Low Testosterone
Testosterone is the hormone responsible for the body’s male characteristics as well as for the sex drive, but the symptoms of low-T can affects various other bodily functions as well:
- Sleep patterns – low-T can cause insomnia as well as fatigue and people suffering from sleep apnoea can also notice an aggravation of their condition as their testosterone levels decrease;
- Reduced sex drive and sexual dysfunction;
- Weight gain, the loss of body mass as well as the loss of physical strength;
- Emotional changes, including mood swings, decreased motivation and depression.
Besides aging, low testosterone can be caused by various underlying physical conditions and lifestyle. Type 2 diabetes, obesity, infections, liver and kidney affections and medications can all decrease testosterone levels.
Treatment Options for Low Testosterone and Possible Side Effects
The symptoms of low testosterone can be easily mistaken for the symptoms of other conditions, therefore the first step towards finding the best solution is thorough medical testing that includes not only a discussion of the symptoms, but blood tests as well. If the doctor concludes that the patient’s symptoms are caused by low-T, indeed, there are various treatment options available:
- Skin patches – the patches that contain testosterone need to be applied once a day;
- Gels – these products usually come in the form of single-application packages and are applied directly on the skin;
- Injections – an efficient, though slightly uncomfortable form;
- Pellets – they are implanted underneath the skin, where they release their testosterone content gradually.
Like any hormone treatment, testosterone treatment can also have side effects, including the following:
- The stimulation of prostate growth;
- Skin problems, such as adult acne;
- The risk of developing heart problems caused by testosterone-related over-production of red blood cells;
- Testicle shrinkage.
Lifestyle Changes that Can Boost Testosterone Levels
In some cases, one of the causes that lead to the development of low-T is the patient’s lifestyle, which also means that lifestyle changes can significantly improve the condition. Staying physically active will help maintain muscle mass and will improve sleep patterns as well as emotional affections, while a healthy, balanced diet, rich in healthy proteins coming from fish and lean meat, rich in fibers coming from fruits and vegetables as well as in healthy carbs coming from wholegrain foods will help maintain energy levels and will also ensure healthy body weight.