Have you been a bit moody lately? Always feeling fatigued? Lacking motivation? Depressed about your lack of sex drive, or inability to perform in the bedroom?
Then maybe that dreaded “Low-T” syndrome has struck
Face reality. It may be time to have your testosterone checked.
Similar to how important estrogen is for a woman, an adequate level of testosterone is just as important to a man.
Testosterone is primarily a male hormone, and men have significantly higher levels of testosterone flowing through their veins than women.
When those levels drop (usually due to aging), men feel it, and it’s devastating in all key areas of a man’s life: physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Here are five things you need to know that will allow you to understand better how this masculine hormone functions, and why you may need to have your testosterone levels checked…
- Low testosterone is not just a concern of aging men. While it is true that levels begin to decline after about 25-30 years old, low levels can occur at any age. Men in their early 20s and 30s can be at risk for low concentrations, especially if they have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and testicular failure. A low level is considered less than 300 ng/dL total testosterone and under 35 pg/mL for free testosterone.
- The type and timing of testosterone are necessary. Testosterone is highest in the morning (hence those morning erections), so, therefore, men should have their blood drawn before 9 a.m. — closer to 8 a.m. is even better. In addition, it is important to look at both the total and free testosterone levels, in addition to sex hormone-binding globulin, also referred to as SHBG. SHBG will bind up excess testosterone (and estrogen) to keep it in check. The higher the SHBG, the lower the testosterone levels.
- If testosterone over-converts into estrogen, you’re at risk. You may suffer from mood swings, weight gain, and breast development. This process is called aromatization. If this is a problem, it is important that your estrogen is tested as well.
- Some testosterone converts into dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. DHT is the most potent androgen, and if it’s too high, it can cause aggression, anger, mood swings, prostate problems, and male pattern baldness. This increase in DHT is due to an enzyme is known as 5-alpha reductase. Elevated 5-alpha reductase is often due to genetics. However, there are pharmaceutical and natural options to help. It is important to recognize that testosterone is more than just testosterone by itself, as the bigger picture must be evaluated.
- Typical symptoms of low testosterone are varied. Fatigue, low sex drive, erectile dysfunction (ED), low bone mass, loss of lean muscle mass, weight gain, depression, decreased strength, and blood sugar issues… these are all common but do not have to occur at once. For example, you may still have your sex drive but feel moody and unmotivated, or start gaining weight despite exercise and a healthy diet.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) is tricky since once it is started, it usually does not stop.
Therefore, consider exploring other options for raising testosterone such as lowering aromatization and blocking the 5-alpha reductase enzyme.
This can sometimes be accomplished by more natural methods such as exercise, nutritional changes, reducing stress, getting more sleep and taking supplements.
Taking testosterone can also reduce sperm count, so those looking to become fathers should always talk with their doctors first.
TRT can be administered by a wide array of methods: injections, pills, sublingual tablets, creams, gels, or pellets.
You may need to try one form before switching to a different form if it is not working.
Blood work to check red blood cells and platelets, lipids, liver enzymes, and blood sugar is often required when taking testosterone due to the potential risks.
Not every man is a candidate for testosterone.
A full health history, physical, and lab work are usually required before any prescription is given.
If you think you may be at risk of “Low-T,” or are unsure if you are an ideal candidate for the therapy, strongly consider making an appointment your physician for more information.
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