As men get older, especially around the age of 40, they begin to experience declining testosterone levels as a natural part of the male aging process. This is sometimes called andropause, but it’s more commonly known as Low T. Symptoms of this condition include:
- More body fat
- Reduced libido
- Sexual dysfunction
- Loss of muscle mass and strength
Men may also experience depression, fatigue and loss of facial and body hair. Deficiency can also cause increased male breast size, obesity, reduced sperm count, brittle bones, irritability and lack of motivation. Deficient blood levels of testosterone can be treated with hormone replacement therapy. Testosterone is supplied in several different forms:
- Skin patches
- Gels and creams
- Sublingual and buccal tablets and lozenges
What to Expect at a Low T Center You will need a doctor’s evaluation and prescription to get testosterone. A Low T center specializes in restoring this primary male hormone to optimal levels. They do this by first taking a medical history. You will be questioned about symptoms and how you feel. There will be a physical exam. After that, blood will be drawn and analyzed in a laboratory for testosterone levels. If they are deficient, your Low T physician will prescribe the precise dose of hormone for you. Only a physician is qualified to do this.
Hormone levels are in a delicate balance with other hormones and it’s critical to keep this balance intact. That’s why it’s so important to see a physician experienced in hormone replacement therapy. Testosterone is produced in the male testes under direction from the pituitary gland in the brain. Another part of the brain called the hypothalamus monitors testosterone levels in the blood and tells the pituitary to signal the testes to produce testosterone when more is needed. Low testosterone levels produce a medical condition known as male hypogonadism. This condition can have many causes.
One is the normal aging process. Another cause is problems with the pituitary gland in the brain. When it malfunctions, it can fail to send the signals that tell the testes to make more testosterone. As a result, hormone levels fall. Some types of inflammatory diseases can affect the hypothalamus. A malfunctioning hypothalamus may fail to send the chemical messengers to the pituitary that signal it to tell the testes to make testosterone. HIV and AIDS can also cause hypogonadism, as can certain medications, particularly some hormones and the chronic use of opioids. Obesity is also linked to the condition. A history of mumps, a viral disease which can damage the testes, too much iron in the blood, injury to the testes, radiation and chemotherapy can all cause hypogonadism. However, most men visiting a Low T center have symptoms of low testosterone due to normal aging. Total and Free Testosterone There are two ways to measure testosterone levels. One is called total testosterone.
The other is called free testosterone. A Low T center will measure and evaluate both. Free testosterone is the amount of hormone that’s actually active in the body. It’s possible to have a normal total testosterone level and still have symptoms of Low T if the free testosterone levels fall short. Normal total testosterone levels fall in the range of 300 to 900 nanograms per deciliter. Men with levels below that may benefit from Low T hormone therapy. Low T is not a disease. It’s absolutely normal for a man’s testosterone levels to decline with age. The degree of this decline can vary greatly from man to man. Symptoms and their intensity can vary dramatically as well. Every man will experience Low T differently. There is no right or wrong.
The decision to seek treatment for Low T is a highly personal one, but if you’re bothered by Low T, help is available. If you think you may have Low T and would like more information on hormone replacement therapy, we invite you to call our office at 205-352-9141. Your call is confidential, and our trained, professional medical staff will be happy to discuss your options. Our staff can also set up an appointment for you to see our physicians for a Low T evaluation. Your treatment plan will be individualized just for you. We look forward to your call.