Low testosterone, which is associated with decreased sex drive and erectile dysfunction, is very common. Not only can the condition cause sexual difficulties, but it can also lead to muscle weakness, depression and memory problems.
Because normal testosterone levels can vary depending upon nutrition, body mass index and how much alcohol a man consumes, it can be difficult to determine what a “normal” level should be. According to the Cleveland Clinic, testosterone levels may even vary throughout the day. Therefore, your primary care physician has to determine what your normal level of testosterone should be.
What are the most common symptoms of low testosterone?
These symptoms will vary greatly depending upon the age of the man, but in general, they include:
- Decreased libido (sex drive)
- Erectile dysfunction
- Memory and concentration problems
- Muscle weakness
Your Raleigh/Cary primary care physician can evaluate your testosterone level and provide treatment if needed.
What are the main causes of low testosterone?
There are many conditions that can cause low testosterone. We’ve listed just a few below:
- Any type of cancer treatment involving chemotherapy
- Testicular injuries or infections
- Problems with the pituitary gland
- Various medications, including steroids and hormones that are commonly used to treat prostate cancer
- Kidney failure
- Excessive alcohol use
- Untreated or uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes
- Opioid use
- Genetic conditions
- Steroid abuse
- Severe hypothyroidism
How Common is Low Testosterone?
Because low testosterone is a natural part of the aging process, it’s very common. A man’s testosterone level starts to decline after the age of 30 and continues to decrease by about 1 percent a year for the rest of his life. Therefore, low testosterone affects almost 40 percent of men who are 45 and older, according to information from the Cleveland Clinic.
Can low testosterone be prevented?
If your low testosterone is caused by a genetic condition, then it can’t be prevented. However, even though low testosterone is a natural part of the aging process, there are things you can do to help maintain a normal level of the hormone. These include:
- Living a healthy lifestyle
- Managing your weight
- Exercising regularly
- Avoiding excessive alcohol use
The Pros and Cons of Treatment for Low Testosterone
While low testosterone can be effectively treated using hormone replacement therapy, there are several factors to consider before beginning treatment. In some men, there may be long-term risks and side effects, according to information from Harvard Medical School.
Side effects can range from acne to an increase in prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which could place you at risk for developing prostate cancer. Therefore, if you’re on hormonal treatment for low testosterone, it’s very important to schedule regular appointments with our practices’ doctors in Raleigh and Cary. Long-term use of testosterone supplements may also cause a higher risk of cardiovascular issues such as strokes and heart disease, particularly in older men.
It’s important to work with your primary care physician to determine if the benefits of treatment outweigh the potential risks and side effects.
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For more than 45 years, Raleigh Medical Group has served as the Triangle area’s premier internal medicine provider. Comprised of three distinct practices: Raleigh Medical Group, Cary Medical Group and Raleigh Adult Medicine, we tailor our treatments to provide the finest personalized health care available for each stage of your adult life. Contact us to schedule an appointment.