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Low Testosterone Effects More Than A Man’s Sex Drive

Diabetes, depression, hypertension all linked to low hormone level

MASON, Ohio (May 13, 2013) – Low testosterone is one health topic men may be apprehensive to discuss with their physician and is often an issue doctors have not usually addressed in preventative care.

Many men may silently experience low testosterone – an age-old health problem that most men either know little about or aren’t ready to admit they might have. Testosterone is the most important male sex hormone that men have and it helps maintain sex drive, sperm production and bone health. Its production, however, can gradually reduce over time due to a man’s age or certain pre-existing health conditions.

Not unlike a woman undergoing menopause, a man’s body can experience significant changes when his testosterone level gets too low due to his age. Low testosterone may cause a man to lose body hair, muscle bulk, and strength and to gain body fat. He also may experience mood changes, joint pain or erectile dysfunction. Chronic low testosterone may also cause weak bones (osteoporosis), mood changes and less energy, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH).

Up until recently, low testosterone has not played a significant role in preventative care for men and often was only thought of in connection with a decrease in sex drive. But lower levels of the hormone are now being linked to other health issues such as insulin resistance, which can lead to diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure, hyperglycemia and truncal obesity, said Dr. Dale Block, a Premier HealthNet physician who practices at Premier Family Care of Mason.

“A low sex drive is just a very small piece of it,” he said. “Physicians and other health practitioners have a responsibility to take a more proactive approach and help their patients identify the problem and get to a sense of health and wellness. If you don’t ask the questions, the patients may not be willing to provide the information or they may be embarrassed.”

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), low testosterone is a common condition that often goes undiagnosed because its symptoms are similar to other conditions. As many as 13 million men in America may have low testosterone levels – and more than 90 percent of them are not being treated. Recent research has even found that pre-existing health issues such as diabetes can increase a man’s risk for low testosterone, according to the ADA.

Dr. Block said men can begin seeing symptoms of low testosterone as early as their mid-40s, but most begin experiencing it in their 50s or 60s. In a typical male, the level of testosterone at age 70 is 50 percent of what it was at age 20. This particular time in a man’s physical health is often referred to as andropause.

Testosterone levels can be determined through a simple blood test, and low testosterone can be treated through the use of hormone replacement therapy. There are several risk factors that come with the use of hormone replacement therapy, including prostate cancer and sleep apnea, according to the NIH. Dr. Block recommends that men discuss their options with their primary care physician and encourages them not to rule out diagnosis or treatment because of the risks of therapy.

Once they are started on hormone replacement therapy, many men can see significant improvements, such as their sexual performance and fat burning. It also helps alleviate other issues that men may have including headaches, night sweats and depression. In addition, patients may see positive improvements in their overall health, Dr. Block said.

“I have patients who will come in with this constellation of symptoms and they are on all these (prescription) drugs treating the symptoms and all it really comes down to is that they need a balanced hormonal approach and as soon as I present that to them and they get started on therapy they see an improvement in their overall well-being,” he said.

View frequently asked questions about men’s health.

 

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