The Dangers of Low Testosterone Levels in Men
Testosterone, an anabolic androgen, is the main male sex hormone and the male hormone responsible for sexual development. In men, testosterone makes up about one percent of the total testosterone levels in the body. In male humans, testosterone also plays a role in the growth of male sexual characteristics including increased muscle mass and bone density and promoting the growth of body hair in men. Testosterone is both an anabolic and catabolic hormone, which means it will build muscle mass or add weight while breaking down to become anabolic again after its use. Testosterone also regulates the functioning of the testicles and adrenal glands, the amount of sebum produced by the sebaceous glands, and allows the body to respond to stress by stimulating the release of growth hormones.
Because of these things, it has been thought that there would be little testosterone left in men once they reach normal testosterone levels after puberty. With that said, the average number of years a man can survive is only four to five years. Unfortunately, some men live longer than others because they have abnormally high levels of testosterone; some are even born with testosterone deficiency, meaning their bodies produce little testosterone at all. These cases are usually diagnosed through testosterone therapy.
Testosterone deficiency results from a decreased conversion of testosterone into the hormone DHT. DHT is found in large quantities in sperm cells and is a major cause of male pattern baldness in men. It tends to attack the follicles on the scalp as they grow, causing them to shrink and stop producing any testosterone at all. The shrinking of the follicles reduces the number of germ cells in the testicles, resulting in low testosterone production. This can lead to decreased sperm count and reduced virility.
Causes of testosterone deficiency vary, but they all result from age-related decrease in testosterone production. Men between the ages of fifteen and thirty typically experience the biggest decrease, resulting in low testosterone levels. Those who remain in their twenties are more likely to experience a decrease in testosterone as well, but it usually results from a change in sexual activity. Sexual activity results in testosterone being produced as a by-product.
Testosterone replacement during puberty does not improve sexual desire or performance in any way, but does increase muscle mass. Muscle mass is a factor for libido since muscle mass increases blood flow to the penis. This increased flow of blood means that more of the testosterone reaches the testicles to produce testosterone. As the body naturally produces less testosterone as you get older, the result is lower testosterone levels and slower growth.
There are a few potential side effects of testosterone therapy, including increased blood pressure, heart palpitations, and increased chance of developing breast cancer. The increased red blood cells may also make the heart work harder and increase the risk of heart attack. Other side effects include weight gain, decreased sperm count, erectile dysfunction, acne, and skin growths. It is important that men talk with their doctors before beginning testosterone therapy to discuss the possible risks and side effects.
Testosterone deficiencies can be treated with synthetic hormone supplements or through nutritional supplementation. Common recommendations from medical professionals include testosterone supplementation or replacement therapy. However, there are some cases where the deficiency is too severe that medication is not sufficient. In these cases, the doctor may recommend an over the counter medicine to help treat symptoms and boost testosterone production.
Testosterone deficiencies can result in decreased sperm production, reduced sexual desire, decreased libido, muscle mass reduction, and high risk of developing prostate cancer. Men with a family history of prostate disease are at an increased risk of developing polycystic ovary syndrome, which is a common cause of testosterone deficiency. Blood test results will determine if a man has low testosterone levels. Women who want to conceive may benefit from testosterone replacement therapy. Testosterone supplementation may also be recommended if symptoms are severe. Medical professionals also recommend testosterone supplementation for older men who experience decreased libido or erectile dysfunction.