Many men experience symptoms of hypogonadism, or low testosterone, especially as they grow older. As men age, there is a natural decline in the male sex hormone testosterone circulating in the bloodstream. Low testosterone can cause a man to feel tired, lose interest in sex, experience erectile dysfunction, feel depressed or develop other health problems.
Common symptoms of low testosterone
- Decreased energy
- Decreased libido (sex drive)
- Erectile dysfunction
- Loss of muscle mass
- Decreased exercise tolerance
- Change in mental acuity or cognitive function
- Irritability or mood change and/or depression
- Mild anemia (iron deficiency)
- Osteoporosis (brittle bones)
What causes low testosterone?
While testosterone levels in the body can decline as a man ages, general health and medical conditions can also affect testosterone levels, including:
- Type 2 diabetes – Studies have shown that men with diabetes are more likely to develop low testosterone, and, on the flip side, some men with low testosterone are more prone to develop diabetes as they age.
- Sleep apnea
- Damage to the testes
- Infection or testicular cancer
- Chronic pain and chronic use of pain medications
Diagnosing low testosterone
Some men experience symptoms of low testosterone that are due instead to other underlying medical conditions, which is why it’s so important to be seen by a urologist for a thorough medical evaluation and accurate diagnosis.
Your urologist will begin by taking your medical history and then performing a physical exam which will include a blood test that measures the total amount of testosterone in your bloodstream. A blood test and the results of your exam will also help your urologist identify other medical conditions that may be contributing to low testosterone such diabetes as well as other hormone deficiencies.
How is low testosterone treated?
If low testosterone has been diagnosed based on your symptoms and results of your blood test, your urologist will discuss Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).
Treatment with testosterone replacement therapy may:
- Increase energy
- Increase sex drive
- Alleviate erectile dysfunction (ED)
- Increase muscle mass and improve overall bone density
- Improve depression and fatigue