Because June is Men’s Health Month, now is the perfect time to talk about an issue that many men deal with; low testosterone or low T. Low T symptoms can interfere with a man’s daily life and this hormonal imbalance can cause other health issues. Luckily, doctors that specialize in hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help men with low testosterone.
Common Low T Symptoms in Men
1. Erectile Dysfunction
Men with low T may have trouble achieving or maintaining erections, which is known as erectile dysfunction (ED). Testosterone is not responsible for causing erections, but it does play a role in stimulating the part of the brain that triggers chemical reactions necessary for erections to occur. Because testosterone only plays a partial role in causing erections, hormone replacement may not be a suitable treatment for ED.
2. Low Sex Drive
One of the low T symptoms that men often experience is low sex drive. Many men naturally experience a decreased libido as they age, but those with low T will see a more drastic change in their sexual desire.
3. Mood Changes
Testosterone is responsible for many physical processes in the body, but it also affects mental and emotional processes as well. Low T may cause men to be depressed, irritable, or otherwise moody. Some men with a testosterone imbalance experience mood symptoms similar to those women experience during menopause.
4. Hair Loss
Another low T symptom some men experience is hair loss. Balding or hair loss on the head is normal for many men as they age. Some men also experience hair loss early because of inherited components. However, men with low T can also experience hair loss on their faces and body. This is because testosterone plays a role in hair production. That’s why boys start developing body and facial hair during puberty when testosterone levels increase.
5. Loss of Muscle Mass
Because testosterone is a key player in building muscle, low T may cause muscle mass to decrease. Even though muscle mass may decrease, muscle strength and function may not be affected.
6. Increased Body Fat
Along with the loss of muscle mass, a common low T symptom is increased body fat. A condition called gynecomastia is not uncommon in men who have low testosterone. Gynecomastia is when the fat tissue of the breast area of a man increases or swells. This is caused by an imbalance of estrogen in relation to testosterone.
Extreme fatigue is one of the low T symptoms that can really interfere with a man’s daily life. Decreased energy levels impact every area of life and can even affect your fitness because it drains you of motivation to exercise. This compounds other low T symptoms like loss of muscle mass and increased body fat.
8. Bone Loss
Osteoporosis is often thought of as a condition that only affects women. While it is true that far more women than men develop osteoporosis, bone loss can be a low T symptom in men. Testosterone plays a role in producing, strengthening, and protecting bones. So when levels of testosterone are low, the bones may become thinner and more susceptible to fractures.
9. Low Semen Volume
Testosterone contributes to the production of semen. Semen is the fluid that contains sperm and helps with motility. When a man has low testosterone he may have a lower volume of semen during ejaculation. This does not necessarily reduce a man’s actual fertility because he may still be producing healthy sperm, but low semen volume may make it more difficult to naturally conceive a child.
Treating Low Testosterone
How low testosterone is treated depends on the underlying cause. If low T is related to health conditions such as high blood pressure or obesity, testosterone levels may become more balanced when those conditions are well managed. In other cases, doctors may recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for men to manage the symptoms of low T.
Testosterone therapy (TT) is prescribed to men with low T who meet certain clinical criteria. A physician experienced in HRT should evaluate your condition and prescribe treatment. TT can be administered in several ways, including:
- Transdermal – through the skin
- Intranasal – through the nose
- Oral – by mouth
- Pellets placed under the skin
Testosterone pellets are often preferred because they use bioidentical hormones and provide more consistent levels of the hormone than other methods.
As an experienced reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Karen Clark of Chapel Hill Gynecology is experienced in helping patients treat hormonal imbalances like low testosterone. If you are concerned about low T, she can help develop a treatment plan with testosterone pellets to manage your symptoms. Call Dr. Clark at (919) 960-2720 to schedule an appointment. Chapel Hill Gynecology is open for office visits (using recommended protocols for preventing COVID-19 exposure) as well as telemedicine visits.