A guide to understanding testosterone: Functions, imbalances, and treatment options

testosterone helps to develop male characteristics

Testosterone is a steroid hormone primarily produced in the testicles of males and, in smaller amounts, in the ovaries of females. A small amount of also produced by the adrenal glands.

This hormone is responsible for the development of male reproductive tissues as well as for promoting secondary sexual characteristics. In addition, testosterone is necessary for the health and well-being of men and women. It can also help to increase libido, or sexual desire, in both sexes.

Testosterone levels in the body begin to decrease as men age, which can lead to a condition called hypogonadism. This can be treated with hormone replacement therapy. However, high hormone levels can also cause problems, including acne, breast enlargement, and an increased risk of prostate cancer.

Role of testosterone in the male body

Testosterone is a male sex hormone and plays a key role in developing the testes and prostate and promoting secondary sexual characteristics such as increased muscle, bone mass, and body hair growth. It is responsible for muscle mass, bone density, and body hair growth and maintenance. It also affects sperm production, sex drive, and mood.

Signs and symptoms of low male hormone level

A low hormone level is also called hypogonadism. It is a condition in which the body doesn’t produce enough testosterone. Symptoms of low hormone levels can vary and may include:

  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Low sex drive
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Reduced muscle mass and strength
  • Increased body fat
  • Decreased bone density
  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • Reduced body hair and/or increased breast tissue
  • Hot flashes

It’s important to note that some of these symptoms can be caused by other factors and that not all men with low testosterone will experience symptoms. Additionally, symptoms of low testosterone may develop gradually and may not be immediately apparent. Therefore, a blood test to measure hormone levels is typically necessary to confirm a diagnosis.

Cause for low testosterone

It is worth noting that not all causes of low testosterone are well understood, and some cases may have an unknown reason. A proper diagnosis through a specialist and lab test is needed to identify the cause. Some known causes of low hormone levels are,

  • Age: levels naturally decline with age.
  • Obesity: Obesity can lead to decreased hormone levels.
  • Certain medical conditions: Chronic illnesses such as diabetes, sleep apnea, and hypogonadism.
  • Medications: Certain medications, including glucocorticoids and opiates
  • Injury or infection: An injury to the testes or a severe infection such as mumps.
  • Testicular disorders: such as Klinefelter’s syndrome and hemochromatosis.
  • Genetic disorders: such as Kallmann’s syndrome
  • Stress, lack of sleep, and poor diet also can be contributing factor.

How to diagnose low hormone level

Low testosterone, or hypogonadism, is typically diagnosed through a physical examination, a review of symptoms, and blood tests to measure testosterone levels.

A healthcare provider will typically conduct a physical examination, looking for signs such as a decrease in muscle mass or body hair or an increase in breast tissue.

They will also ask about symptoms such as fatigue, decreased sex drive, and difficulty maintaining or achieving an erection.

Blood tests to measure testosterone levels. The test is done in the morning when testosterone levels are highest. If the testosterone level is low, additional testing may be done to determine the cause, such as a problem with the pituitary gland or testicles.

What are the treatment options available?

Treatments for low testosterone typically involve testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). TRT can be administered in several ways, including:

  • Topical gels or creams, which are applied to the skin
  • Transdermal patches, which are applied to the skin
  • Buccal tablets, which are placed in the cheek or gum
  • Injections, which are given into a muscle every two to four weeks
  • Pellets, which are small beads that are placed under the skin every three to six months
  • A subcutaneous implant is a pellet inserted under the skin every 3 to 6 months.

It’s important to note that before starting TRT, it’s essential to have a proper diagnosis and evaluation by a specialist and to regularly monitor hormone levels and the adverse effects of treatment.

Other treatment options include Clomiphene citrate, a non-steroidal medication. Anastrozole is also used, a medication that blocks estrogen production in the body.

You can also try various natural methods of testosterone boosters.

The Bottom Line

Testosterone, the so-called “male hormone,” is responsible for much of what we think of as “male features.” Such as muscle mass and strength, sex drive, body fat distribution, hair growth, and mood.

The average man has ten times more testosterone than the average woman, but this can vary significantly depending on several factors.

Testosterone levels start to gradually decline after the age of 30. However, the pace at which they drop varies wildly from person to person.

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