Many organic functions are controlled by hormones, chemical agents produced by a variety of glands. Testosterone is the most important male sex hormone. Produced largely by the testicles, it is essential to trigger the development of male sexual characteristics that appear at puberty in boys. In men, it helps to maintain muscle and bone strength as well as libido and sexual performance.
After the age of 30, the normal level of testosterone slowly but steadily decreases in men. The term “andropause” has been suggested to describe the effects of hormonal changes on middle-aged men and older men, although there are no sudden changes comparable to those seen in menopause in women. Another term that is frequently used to describe these changes is “late-onset hypogonadism”.
Nowadays, men are living longer and many are looking for ways to improve their quality of life. Regular exercise, a healthy weight, tobacco abstinence, moderate alcohol consumption, and a balanced diet are all effective ways to stay healthy.
Many men with low testosterone levels will benefit from hormone supplementation to promote better sexual function, increased muscle strength, healthier bones, better fat distribution, and even improved mood and of mental function. Nevertheless, other diseases can cause many of the symptoms associated with low testosterone, and its recovery to a “young man” level may not correct some of these changes. After reading your symptoms and the results of your tests, your doctor will inform you of the risks and benefits of a hormonal supplement.
How is a testosterone deficiency diagnosed?
A testosterone deficiency is first suspected in a man based on his symptoms and physical examination. A simple blood test is enough to measure the level of testosterone. The level of testosterone varies during the day and reaches its highest level early in the morning. It exists in many forms in the blood vessels and can be measured using different analyzes. Normals vary widely among the population (for example, healthy young men vs. healthy middle-aged men vs. the general male population). All of these factors can make it difficult to establish values that are truly low. In a practical way, one or two morning doses of testosterone are favored.
What are the symptoms of testosterone deficiency?
In contrast to the obvious symptoms of menopause in women, the symptoms associated with a gradual decrease in testosterone levels may be more subtle. These may include decreased libido, decreased muscle mass and strength, increased fat, mood changes, sleep disturbances, and lack of energy. However, these changes, which are often related to testosterone deficiency, can also be a result of other factors such as stress, depression, lifestyle, poor fitness, or illness.
What are the benefits of a hormonal supplement?
The benefits of a testosterone hormonal supplement are most pronounced in men who have a very low testosterone level. They include improved libido, increased muscle mass, stronger bones, decreased abdominal fat and better control of sugar levels in diabetics. One can also note an improvement in mood and the mental functions. Research is currently underway to evaluate the potential benefits of testosterone supplements on blood vessels and in particular their impact on heart health and cholesterol levels.
What are the risks of testosterone replacement therapy?
Although testosterone supplements have been widely used for many years, long-term risks have not been formally established. Like any medical treatment, male hormone replacement should be approached with caution and after receiving from your doctor all the necessary information.
A change in risk factors for heart and blood vessel diseases has been noted following the use of testosterone supplements; some have proven beneficial, others harmful. The overall effect of these changes is uncertain. Blood levels of hemoglobin (the component of blood that carries oxygen) can increase and possibly increase the risk of blood clots. In men with sleep apnea (temporary stops of breathing during sleep), the problem may worsen during hormone replacement therapy with testosterone.
Testosterone may promote increased prostate volume and increased PSA (the blood test used to help detect prostate cancer), although no link has been found between testosterone replacement and prostate cancer, or the appearance of voiding disorders caused by a large prostate.
It has been recommended that men who receive testosterone supplements be monitored regularly for these problems during the first year of treatment, and then at least annually thereafter.
How is testosterone administered?
Testosterone supplements can be administered in many ways. Although no form of testosterone supplement can mimic the normal variations in hormone secretions by the testes that occur every hour and day to day, testosterone levels can be increased effectively by injections (usually every few weeks) or by daily application of dermal patches, gel or cream. Tablets, while convenient, may be less effective in restoring a normal level of testosterone.
The significance of the normal decrease in testosterone levels with age and the role of hormone supplementation therapy can be complex. Alternative therapy may be beneficial but requires regular monitoring to detect any adverse effects. This treatment option should be discussed and discussed with your doctor.