Constant fatigue, unexplained muscle or hair loss? Most men don’t realize they have low testosterone, but these are just a few signals that could indicate your levels have dropped below normal. A gradual decline in testosterone is typical with age, but age isn’t always the determining factor with testosterone deficiency syndrome (TDS).
Testosterone is produced in a circadian rhythm, meaning it ranges from 350 – 1100 ng/dL, typically being at its highest levels in the morning and lowest levels at night. Along with sperm production, testosterone regulates a number of functions, including muscle size and strength, sexual development, bone density, and fat distribution. Low testosterone levels mean the body does not produce enough of the male sex hormone, testosterone.
Symptoms and Risk Factors of Low Testosterone
There are numerous symptoms that men with low testosterone experience ranging from hot flashes and hair loss to reduced erectile function and depression.
“I’ve had patients come in who’ve been on two, or even three, antidepressants and I check a testosterone level, and sure enough they come back with low testosterone levels, and we’re able to get them off antidepressants and they feel a million times better,” said Eric Darby, MD, FACS, urologist at TPMG Urology in Newport News, VA.
Having any one of these symptoms may not mean low testosterone, but if you have a combination of these symptoms, you may want to have your physician check your testosterone levels.
Men with diabetes, chronic opioid use, and adipose tissue in the abdomen or “belly fat” are at a higher risk of developing low testosterone issues. New research suggests that 1 out of 4 men between the age of 30-50 will have low testosterone issues.
Men may develop low testosterone for a number of reasons including genetic conditions such as Klinefelter syndrome or Noonan syndrome, autoimmune disease, pituitary gland disease, or damage to the testicles from an accident.
Further risk factors for TDS include metabolic syndrome in men, obesity, as well as the use of antidepressants and narcotic pain medications.
Diagnosis and Treatment
A simple blood test is performed to determine if you have low testosterone. In some cases, two tests are performed to confirm the existence of low testosterone and as validation for treatment.
Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is only available as a prescription and is covered by most insurance. A urologist may recommend various treatment options, including transdermal gels, intramuscular injections, or TESTOPEL®. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment option available for you.
What are the risks of Testosterone Replacement Therapy?
When considering if TRT is right for you, be mindful of unknown risks. This includes if you are at a higher risk for prostate cancer, have diagnosed heart disease, a previous heart attack, or severe urinary symptoms from enlarged prostate.
Testosterone replacement can cause an increased risk of hemoglobin and hematocrit levels due to the stimulus in bone marrow and higher production of red blood cells (RBCs) in your kidneys.
TRT does not cause prostate cancer, but if you have undiagnosed prostate cancer it could make it worse.
Like anything, keep your expectations realistic. Testosterone replacement therapy is not the “Fountain of Youth.”
“It only works when you use it, once you stop the levels will drop below normal range. This is because we can’t make the body produce more testosterone; we can just aid the problem,” said Dr. Darby.
If you think you may be experiencing low testosterone or may qualify for low testosterone therapy, consult with your physician to discuss diagnosis and cost-effective treatment options.
About Dr. Eric Darby
Eric C. Darby, MD, FACS, is a board certified urologist at TPMG Urology in Newport News, VA, with over 20 years of experience in urological care. Dr. Darby is a Diplomat of the American Board of Urology and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.
For more information or to make an appointment with Dr. Darby at TPMG Urology in Newport News, call (757) 873-2562.
Urological Services at TPMG
TPMG offer urological services at offices conveniently located in Newport News and Williamsburg. The experienced, board certified urologists at TPMG provide a variety of services and treatments for common urologic conditions to include Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) or enlarged prostate, low testosterone, kidney stones, bladder disorders, and sexual dysfunction. Using the latest, state-of-the-art technology and treatment therapies to help patients find relief, the urologists at TPMG are committed to providing the best urological services in Hampton Roads.