Five Facts About Low Testosterone
I’m going to talk about a subject may be uncomfortable for some… low testosterone.
Testosterone is a sex hormone that belongs to a class of male hormones called androgens. The National Institutes of Health regards testosterone as the most important male hormone, but women also produce testosterone at lower levels.
For men, testosterone is produced mainly in the testes, with a small amount made in the adrenal glands. Women, on the other hand, produce testosterone in the ovaries and adrenal glands.
Low testosterone affects both men and women, although each is affected differently. For men, low testosterone, or low T, can cause low sex drive, difficulty with erection, low semen volume, hair loss, insomnia and fatigue. Both men and women can experience bone density loss, loss of muscle mass, and increased body fat as a result of low T. Women may also experience fertility issues, decreased red blood cell production, and low sex drive.
Here are some facts that you should know about low T for men and women.
- The two main causes of low T are diminishing levels of the hormone as a normal result of menopause and aging and problems with the ovaries, pituitary, or adrenal glands.
- You might not have all of the symptoms of low T. For example, men may have a normal sex drive and experience other symptoms of low T such as fatigue or insomnia.
- Women, who have fluctuating hormones, are more difficult to test for low T. Symptoms of low T may be misdiagnosed as stress, depression, and the side effects of menopausal changes.
- Women with adrenal insufficiency, surgical removal of ovaries, underactive pituitary glands, early onset menopause, or those taking hormone replacement therapy may be at risk for low T.
- Exercise and weight loss can help slow declining levels of testosterone.
There are several treatments available for low T including injections into the muscle, patches or gels applied to the skin or inside the mouth, and pellets that are inserted under the skin of the buttocks. As with any treatment, there are risks associated with therapy for low T. Therapy can raise a man’s risk for blood clots and stroke. Other less common side effects include sleep apnea, acne, and breast enlargement, which go away once treatment is stopped.
As always, issues like low T and treatment options should be discussed with your clinician. For more information about low T treatment for women, visit the Harvard Health website. To learn more about low T in men, visit the National Institutes of Health website.