Testosterone is a male sex hormone that is created in the testicles and is essential for normal male sexual development and function. During puberty, men experience a surge in their testosterone levels that sparks muscular growth, lowers their voice, and prompts development of secondary sex characteristics such as facial hair and sex drive.
Testosterone is also required in order to maintain these traits. Estimated to affect anywhere from 5-20% of adult men, low testosterone (also known as hypogonadism) is a constellation of symptoms that is seen in men whose testosterone has dropped below normal levels. Symptoms may include decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, an increase in abdominal fat, loss of muscle mass, sleep disturbances, depression, and many others. If you suffer from any of these symptoms, then you may benefit from testosterone testing and supplementation.
Some Common Questions
What can testosterone do for me? Testosterone supplementation has been shown to improve muscle mass, promote weight loss, increase sex drive, improve erections, and elevate overall mood for men of all ages.
What if I want to have more children? It is important to know that direct testosterone supplementation can often cause temporary infertility and that this can sometimes become permanent. While this isn’t a concern for men who are done building their family, it can be a major obstacle for those who desire future children. If this describes you, you should know that there are still options to effectively treat your low testosterone while preserving your fertility, but these should be provided by someone with expertise in both andrology and male reproductive health.
Are there any risks to taking testosterone? Testosterone can be extremely beneficial, but like any other medication it can also have side effects. For some men It can cause an increase in red blood cell production that can raise the risk of stroke. It has also been shown to worsen sleep apnea in certain patients. Fortunately, these are pitfalls that can be managed and avoided with a solid supplementation program that includes regular lab work and physical exams.
Does testosterone cause heart disease? Many large scale studies have shown that testosterone supplementation actually DECREASES the risk of both cardiac disease and diabetes. But it is still a matter of investigation as other studies have come to different conclusions. What HAS been determined is that LOW testosterone has definitively been shown to be linked to an increased cardiac disease, so most providers agree that reasonable supplementation in appropriately selected patients is the best course of action.
Does testosterone cause prostate cancer? Absolutely not. Although testosterone can potentially feed a pre-existing prostate cancer, it DOES NOT cause prostate cancer. That’s why it’s important to seek treatment from a urologist with expertise in screening for prostate cancer to ensure you stay in the clear.