If there’s one word associated more than any other with being a man, it’s this one: testosterone. You know it’s the chemical that entered the scene when you were experiencing puberty as a teenager, and if you’re in treatment for erectile dysfunction or other men’s health struggles, you know that low testosterone levels may be at least partially to blame. But how much do you really know about this vital hormone?
At , we believe that when patients have a full understanding of what’s going on in their bodies, they can be an active and informed participant in their own treatment. Here are some of the most frequently-asked questions men have about testosterone and its function in the body:
What is testosterone?
To begin with, it’s important to understand that testosterone is a hormone. Hormones are chemicals produced by your body that deliver messages to various cells, giving them instructions on things like growth or changing shape. The actions your cells take in response to these instructions will have direct consequences on the way your body behaves. If it’s a signal to your heart, it may pump faster. If it’s a signal to your brain, you may feel hungry or full.
Testosterone is a hormone that is produced primarily in the testicles (though uteruses also make testosterone in smaller amounts), and the signals it sends are most commonly associated with producing sperm and activating the sex drive in your brain. Testosterone also sends messages to other parts of your body that dictate your bone mass and muscle mass, as well as the way fat is distributed in your body and the way your moods come and go.
What happens when my testosterone levels are low?
Because the testosterone hormone is responsible for a number of important messages being transferred to various parts of your body, low levels of testosterone can interfere with the frequency and effectiveness of those messages, creating delayed or ineffective responses in those areas. Some of the most common conditions associated with low testosterone levels include the following:
- A new lack of energy
- Moodiness or symptoms of depression
- Lower levels of self-esteem
- Decreased sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction
If you’re struggling with low testosterone, you may even notice several physical symptoms, including:
- Thinner, more brittle bones
- A decrease in your usual amount of body hair
- Sudden weight gain
What causes low testosterone levels in the first place?
The most common cause of low testosterone, or low T, is simply the aging process. While testosterone levels spike in young men while going through puberty, they tend to naturally drop off starting around the age of 30. From that point onward, your testosterone levels are likely to decrease incrementally -- -- every year of your life.
Additionally, many other factors can contribute to low testosterone levels. These factors include but are certainly not limited to:
- Taking certain medications, such as opioids or steroids.
- Undergoing chemotherapy or other cancer treatments.
- Drastic weight loss in a short period of time.
- Underlying conditions like sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, or HIV/AIDS.
How can I improve my testosterone levels moving forward?
If you believe you’re experiencing symptoms of low testosterone, including erectile dysfunction, the most important first step is to identify one of the underlying causes listed above. Of course, getting older happens to everyone, and aging is something to embrace rather than fight. However, low T can also be a red flag for a number of undiagnosed conditions that can have major negative consequences to your overall wellness, from to .
Once you’ve begun addressing the root of the problem, touch base with a men’s health specialist to start targeting your low testosterone specifically. At , our Care Coordinators specialize in personalized, one-on-one care that is tailored to meet your individual needs and goals. Our include suggested changes to your lifestyle (such as sleep, diet and exercise), as well as testosterone-boosting therapies for patients who need extra support. We also to support prostate health and improve libido in men with low T, delivered in discreet packaging straight from our own pharmacy.