Testosterone Therapy for Low T in Men
Testosterone, the primary male sex hormone, is most often associated with a person’s sex drive. However, it actually is responsible for a lot of critical functions in the body. It helps to produce sperm and red blood cells and build bone and muscle mass. It affects energy, mood, and even how fat is stored in the body. It is produced by the sex glands (testicles in men, ovaries in women).
A loss of sexual desire is usually the first sign of low testosterone (low-T). Low-T can also worsen sleep apnea, reduce muscle mass, increase fatigue, and trigger depression. If you’re suffering from any of these symptoms and you don’t know why, contact your urologist.
It is estimated that one in four men over the age of 30 have low-T. Testosterone levels peak at age 20 and slowly decline thereafter.
Low or nonexistent testosterone production is sometimes called hypogonadism, low serum testosterone, or andropause in men. A blood test can determine the level of testosterone circulating in your body. A person is considered to have low-T when levels fall below 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL).
Men may be born with the condition, or it can develop with age or as the result of infection or injury. Undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy increases the risk of Low-T. However, no matter the cause, there are solutions.
Low T Treatment Options
Testosterone therapy is the typical treatment for low-T. With this therapy, bio-identical forms of testosterone are administered to help balance low levels of testosterone in the body.
Testosterone therapy can be provided in a variety of formats:
- Gel – a clear substance is applied to the skin or inside the nose on a daily basis
- Implant – long-acting pellets are implanted under the skin and slowly release testosterone in regular doses into the bloodstream for a period of time, typically 3 to 6 months
- Injection – testosterone is injected directly into the muscles and absorbed into the bloodstream; injections usually last at least 2 weeks
- Patch – medicated patches are applied on the arm or upper body once a day, or to the upper gums in the mouth twice a day
There is no oral version of testosterone therapy because there is no safe way to avoid potential liver damage when the hormone is taken orally and filtered by the liver. The above methods ensure the therapy bypasses the liver.