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Testosterone is the key male sex hormone that regulates fertility, muscle mass, fat distribution, and red blood cell production.

When levels of testosterone drop below levels that are healthy, they can lead to conditions like hypogonadism or infertility.

There are, however, sources from which people with low testosterone can boost their levels.

Low testosterone is becoming more and more common.

The number of prescriptions for testosterone supplements has increased fivefold Trusted Source since 2012.

This article will explore what It’s does and whether men should worry about decreasing levels of the hormone as they grow older.

Fast facts on

  • Testosterone regulates a number of processes in the male body.
  • Levels of testosterone tend to drop as men age.
  • Prohormone supplements do not have any effect on testosterone levels.
  • Supplements are prescribed only for specified conditions, and not to counteract the natural, age-related drop in Its levels.
  • Replacement therapy (TRT) is also available. However, this can carry side
  • effects and risks.

What is testosterone?

Testosterone is the male sex hormone.

Is the hormone responsible for the development of male sexual characteristics. Hormones are chemical messengers Trusted Source that trigger

necessary changes in the body.

Females also produce the hormone, usually in smaller amounts.

It is a type of androgen

produced primarily by the testicles in cells called

the Leydig cells.

In men, is

thought to regulate a number of functions alongside sperm production. These include:

  • sex drive
  • bone mass
  • fat distribution
  • muscle size and strength
  • red blood cell production

Without adequate amounts of testosterone, men become infertile.

This is because testosterone assists the development of mature sperm.

Despite being a male sex hormone, testosterone also contributes to sex drive, bone density, and muscle strength in women.

However, an excess of testosterone can also cause women to experience male pattern baldness and infertility.

The brain and pituitary gland control levels.

Once produced, the hormone moves through the blood to carry out its various important functions.

Imbalances

Testosterone
Testosterone decreases naturally with age. It is important to receive tests to determine whether any imbalances are due to an active condition.

High or low levels can lead to dysfunction in the parts of the body normally regulated by the hormone.

When a man has low testosterone, or hypogonadism, he may experience:

  • reduced sex drive
  • erectile dysfunction
  • low sperm count
  • enlarged or swollen breast tissue

Over time, these symptoms may develop in the following ways:

  • loss of body hair
  • loss of muscle bulk
  • and also loss of strength
  • increased body fat

Chronic, or ongoing, low testosterone may lead to osteoporosis, mood swings, reduced energy, and testicular shrinkage.

Causes can include:

  • testicular injury, such as castration
  • infection of the testicles
  • medications, such as opiate analgesics
  • disorders that affect the hormones, such as pituitary tumors or high prolactin levels
  • chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, kidney and liver disease, obesity, and HIV/AIDS
  • genetic diseases, such as Klinefelter syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, hemochromatosis, Kallman syndrome, and myotonic dystrophy

Too much of that hormone, on the other hand, can lead to the triggering of puberty before the age of 9 years.

This condition would mainly affect younger men and is much rarer.

In women, however, high testosterone levels can lead to male pattern baldness, a deep voice, and menstrual irregularities, as well as:

  • growth and swelling of the clitoris
  • changes in body shape
  • reduction in breast size
  • oily skin
  • acne
  • facial hair growth around the body, lips, and chin

Recent studies have also linked high testosterone levels in women to the risk of uterine fibroids.

imbalances can be detected with a blood test and treated

accordingly.

Testosterone levels and aging

The Testosterone levels naturally decrease as a man ages.

The effects of gradually lowering testosterone levels as men age have received increasing attention in recent years. It is known as late-onset hypogonadism.

After the age of 40, the concentration of circulating testosterone falls by about 1.6 percent every yearTrusted Source for most men. By the age of 60, the low levels of the hormone would lead to a diagnosis of hypogonadism in younger men.

About 4 in 10 men have hypogonadism by the time they reach 45 years old.

The number of cases in which older men have been diagnosed as having low testosterone increased

170 percent since 2012.

Low testosterone has been associated with increased

mortality in male veterans.

Late-onset

hypogonadism has become a recognized medical condition, although many of the

symptoms are associated with normal aging.

The following are

symptoms of late-onset hypogonadismTrusted Source:

  • diminished erectile quality, particularly at night
  • decreased libido
  • mood changes
  • reduced cognitive function
  • fatigue, depression, and anger
  • a decrease in muscle mass and strength
  • decreased body hair
  • skin changes
  • decreased bone mass and bone mineral density
  • increase in abdominal fat mass

As well as sexual dysfunction,

late-onset hypogonadism has also been associated

with metabolic disease and cardiovascular disease.

The degree to which the hormone levels decline varies between men, but a growing number of men experience the effects of reduced the hormone level levels. Life expectancy has increased, and many men now live beyond the age of 60 years.

As a result, a higher number of men see the effects of age-related testosterone depletion.

Treatment

Administering treatment for hypogonadism as the result of a disease differs from treating late-onset hypogonadism in older men.

Testosterone supplements

One proposed treatment for low testosterone comes in the form of It’s supplements.

One type of the hormone supplement, methyltestosterone, has received approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, guidelines advise doctors not to prescribe this supplement due to the speed with which the liver metabolizes testosterone.

This can lead to liver toxicity. While doctors can legally prescribe the supplement, they generally try to avoid this.

Until stronger evidence is available to support the benefits and safety of testosterone supplementation, only older adults with severe clinical symptoms of low testosterone should be candidates for these supplements.

The FDA

have advised that testosterone supplements are

not suitable Trusted Source to treat late-onset hypogonadism, and a doctor should only prescribe them for an identifiable cause.

Testosterone replacement therapy

Replacement therapy (TRT) can help restore some affected functions of low testosterone.

Studies have shown Trusted Source that TRT mainly impacts bone strength and hemoglobin levels in the blood, but not mental sharpness.

The treatment can be administered by:

  • skin gels and patches
  • injections
  • tablets
  • tablets that are absorbed through the gums

These can, however, trigger side effects, including:

  • increased red blood cell count
  • prostate and breast enlargement
  • acne
  • in rare cases, breathing difficulties during sleep
  • increased risk of cardiovascular disease, although this is subject to debate

Deciding to pursue a course of TRT involves deciding between the perceived benefit of the therapy on the symptoms of a particular individual and the risks of the treatment.

A recent study, for example, suggests that TRT provides extra benefit for overall mortality and stroke for men whose testosterone levels have normalized with TRT.

However, the Endocrine Society advises that doctors should not prescribe TRT to men aged less than 65 years, even if they have low testosterone levels. The risks and suggested benefits of TRT for men younger than this are unclear, as are the benefits.

Current research is conflicting. Additional studies into the hormone replacement are necessary for physicians to fully understand its potential risks and benefits, and to identify the individuals that may see the most benefit.

Prohormone supplements and heart disease

Testosterone body building
Prohormone supplements are often used in place of illegal steroids to build muscle. However, they are a poor choice for treating low testosterone.

Prohormones are a variety of steroid. They are often used to support weight loss

and muscle-building.

A number of prohormone supplements

are marketed at men to treat low testosterone levels. Such supplements can include dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and the herbal product Tribulus terrestris. However,

a bill was passed in 2014 banning

designer anabolic steroids.

Legal variants have emerged since. However, there is little, if any, research to indicate that these prohormone supplements affect the hormone levels. Research from 2016 did not find any evidence that Tribulus terrestris, for example, can increase Its levels.

Such remedies may pose a risk to health Trusted Source. The law does not require herbal supplements to be proven safe before sale, so caution is advised.

Prohormones can increase testosterone but boost estrogen, the female hormone, at the same time. They can also cause an imbalance Trusted Source in blood cholesterol, decreasing levels of “good” cholesterol.

The potential side effects of prohormones plus their unproven clinical benefits make them a poor, possibly dangerous choice for boosting the hormone.

Outlook

For men, testosterone levels are important to maintain, but they naturally decrease over time. If symptoms of severe or chronic

low testosterone are showing, the hormone deficiency may be caused by an active disease or condition.

Treatment can lead to unwanted side effects, so it can be crucial to balance the expected benefits of testosterone supplementation with the risks of the treatment. Often, low testosterone levels come without harmful physical effects and do not require treatment.

Speak to a medical professional,

and confirm if treatment is

required.

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