Low Testosterone

What is testosterone?

Testosterone is a hormone made naturally by the body. It is used by a man’s body to:

  • Keep bones and muscles strong
  • Make sperm
  • Help control sex drive and the ability to have sex
  • Grow body hair

While woman also have testosterone in their bodies, low levels are more of a problem for men than for women.

If your body does not produce enough testosterone, it can cause symptoms.

What causes low testosterone?

Low testosterone can be caused by:

  • Aging
  • An injury to the testicles
  • Cancer of the testicles or cancer treatment
  • Certain medicines
  • A problem that you are born with
  • Problems with the parts of your brain that make hormones

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may include:

  • Having erections less often
  • Taking longer to have an erection and the erection may be less firm
  • Having less interest in sex than you used to
  • Weakness and tiredness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Depression

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history and examine you. The level of testosterone in your body can be measured with a blood test. If your level of testosterone is low, you may have other tests to find the cause.

How is it treated?

If you have a very low level of testosterone and serious symptoms, your provider may prescribe testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). Testosterone is available as shots, patches, or gels.

TRT has risks. It may not be right for you if you have high cholesterol or heart disease, or if you are at risk for prostate cancer. TRT may cause an enlarged prostate, cause trouble urinating, or increase your risk for prostate cancer. Take testosterone only if your healthcare provider approves.

Claims have been made that the nonprescription supplement DHEA helps increase testosterone. DHEA is a hormone that the body turns into testosterone and estrogen, the female hormone. DHEA has not been proven to relieve the symptoms of low testosterone. Supplements are not tested or standardized and may vary in strengths and effects. They may have side effects and are not always safe. Before you take any supplement, talk with your healthcare provider.

How can I take care of myself?

Talk to your healthcare provider about your personal and family medical history and your lifestyle habits. A healthy lifestyle may also help:

  • Eat a healthy diet. Ask your provider about the benefits of talking to a dietician to learn what you need in a healthy diet.
  • Try to keep a healthy weight. If you are overweight, lose weight.
  • Stay fit with the right kind of exercise for you.
  • Limit caffeine.
  • Learn to manage stress. Ask for help at home and work when the load is too great to handle. Find ways to relax, for example take up a hobby, listen to music, watch movies, or take walks. Try deep breathing exercises when you feel stressed.
  • If you smoke, try to quit. Talk to your healthcare provider about ways to quit smoking.
  • If you want to drink alcohol, ask your healthcare provider how much is safe for you to drink.
  • Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
  • Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.
  • Contact your healthcare provider if you have new or worsening symptoms.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-05-28
Last reviewed: 2014-05-27
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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