Testosterone Deficiency – What it Means
When the doctor diagnoses testosterone deficiency, it means that you have a condition called hypogonadism. Low T, as it is often referred to, may be affecting anywhere between 4 and 8 million men, depending on how this condition is being viewed. Many women of menopausal age are also subject to low testosterone levels.
The difference here is based on the following factors:
- The level of total and free testosterone in the body
- The symptoms that are being experienced
A person can have low blood testosterone levels below what is considered normal or average but still have no symptoms of Low T. In this instance, there is no need to prescribe any treatment as the body has adjusted fine to this change. Conversely, one could still be in the lower end of the normal range but facing a broad array of symptoms that are interfering with daily life. In this situation, treatment would be recommended.
Testosterone deficiency can occur for many reasons, including pituitary gland tumors or injury, or issues with the testicles or ovaries. For most people, it is a natural offshoot of the aging process that also affects many other hormone levels in the body.
The Effects of Testosterone Deficiency in Men
Low T is a diagnosis that no man wants to hear, and yet it is one that is extremely treatable, so the general fear is often unwarranted. The biggest issue is that males do not want to lose their masculinity – their libido and sexual prowess. These are often the most feared effects of testosterone deficiency in men.
As bad as erectile dysfunction and lack of interest in sex may seem, there are serious health concerns associated with low testosterone. Men with any of the following medical conditions have a higher than average incidence of being diagnosed with testosterone deficiency:
- Cardiac disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Alzheimer’s disease
Testosterone plays a role in brain functions, heart health, prostate, muscle and bone development (needed throughout life), metabolism, insulin and glucose regulation, and more. As you can see, it is not just sexual health that is at the basis of testosterone production.
How Testosterone Deficiency Effects Women
The effects of testosterone deficiency in women can be just as severe as with men. Since testosterone decline occurs around the same time as other hormones secreted by the ovaries, many of the same issues arise. This includes symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats that can become so bad that they interfere with sleep and daily life.
Women are at a much greater risk of developing osteoporosis in general, and Low T can speed that process along – putting a woman at a higher incidence of fractures in later life. Memory loss can easily lead to dementia as time continues to pass and testosterone levels are not increased with the proper treatment. Depression and other mood changes are often noted.
Testosterone deficiency contributes to vaginal dryness which often makes intercourse unpleasant and even painful. Sexual desire declines and becoming aroused is difficult. Weight gain, muscle loss, and all of the other issues affecting men (with the exception of erectile and prostate problems) are also possible.
Testing for and Treating Testosterone Deficiency
The first thing to do if Low T is suspected is to contact an experienced hormone replacement specialist. This doctor will order the appropriate diagnostic testing that will determine if testosterone levels have declined to a point that is an issue. The testosterone deficiency test is a panel of blood tests that check a variety of hormone levels (many of the symptoms of deficiency are the same), blood counts, cholesterol, and other factors to ensure that there are no other reasons for what is occurring in the body.
Physical examination is also a requirement to make sure that there are no other health concerns present and that the individual in question is a candidate for the treatment of testosterone deficiency. The doctor will also review a completed medical questionnaire that provides details of past and current health issues and symptoms.
Treatment for low testosterone is prescribed on an individualized basis. Men tend to do best with testosterone cypionate injections that are not only cost-effective, but they require the fewest number of treatments. Women are typically prescribed a low dose testosterone cream.
To learn more about these, and other options for testosterone therapy, to inquire about blood testing at a lab near you, or to get answers to any questions you have about Low T, please contact Kingsberg Medical for a free consultation with a hormone specialist.Brian Leeber