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Men who have low testosterone do not make enough of the male hormone called testosterone. This hormone allows men to develop and keep physical male traits. It's also one of the hormones needed for sperm production. Low testosterone is also called testosterone deficiency or hypogonadism.
Low testosterone can lead to problems such as a lower sex drive, weak bones, less muscle mass, less body hair, enlarged breasts, and infertility.
Many things can cause this problem, such as:
Low testosterone also can be present at birth.
A blood test is usually done to find out if you have low testosterone. If your doctor thinks low testosterone could be related to another medical problem, other tests may be done.
Since testosterone normally decreases with age, your doctor can help determine whether your symptoms are from low testosterone and whether you could benefit from treatment.
Symptoms of low testosterone in men may include:
Your doctor will examine you and ask about your symptoms and past health. You'll have a blood test done in the morning. If it shows a low testosterone level, you'll have another blood test to confirm the result. If the second test confirms low testosterone, other tests may be done to look for the cause.
Treatment may depend on the cause. Low testosterone that causes symptoms usually is treated with testosterone hormone. This is called testosterone replacement. You can get it in different ways, such as in a shot, through a patch or gel on the skin, or in a tablet you place between your cheek and gum.
Testosterone replacement may improve your sexual desire, increase your muscle mass, and help prevent bone loss. Many men with low testosterone levels report that they feel better and have more energy while taking testosterone.
Testosterone may be used to treat some men who have erection problems.
The evidence from studies isn't clear about whether taking testosterone lowers or increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, or blood clots in the veins.
Experts don't know for sure if taking testosterone affects the risk of prostate cancer. Your doctor may recommend regular exams and blood tests to check for problems.
Testosterone can affect your fertility. If you are trying to have a child, you may want to ask your doctor if you can take a medicine that doesn't affect fertility.
Side effects of testosterone replacement may include:
Current as of: March 1, 2023
Author: Healthwise StaffClinical Review Board: Adam Husney MD - Family MedicineE. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Current as of: March 1, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
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