Testosterone - it puts the hair on your chest, the boom in your voice and the heat in your sexual desire. In short, much of what makes a man a man is due to the effect that this hormone has on the development and functioning of the body. But testosterone gradually slows production as a man ages, a natural part of getting older. Some people, however, experience a lowered level of testosterone that gets in the way of normal day to day living, and should consider taking steps to improve the situation.
In fact, low testosterone, also known as hypogonadism, is increasing dramatically across the USA. According to a 2010 study published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, the condition affects 20-40 percent of older men in the country. But before rushing off to the doctor, take a look at what constitutes the three most common signs of low testosterone production.
The most common complaint of men who suffer from low testosterone is erectile dysfunction and a lowered sexual drive in general. This is because testosterone, which is produced in the testes in men, is the main hormone responsible for the libido. While sex drive does change and becomes lower as we age, a dramatic drop or the near lack of desire may be signs that testosterone levels in the body are just too low.
Difficulty or inability to achieve or maintain an erection is a direct sign that it is testosterone that is behind a flagging sex drive. The volume of semen is another good indicator, as testosterone is involved in the production of sperm and ejaculatory fluids; men with high testosterone production tend to have larger volumes of semen when having an orgasm.
Loss of physical energy is also something that is associated with the aging process, and is not cause for concern in and of itself. But feelings of excess tiredness and a sudden decrease in actual strength and ability to be active can be caused by problems with testosterone production. This is because testosterone is involved in keeping both muscles and bones healthy, and the body will quickly feel like it is deteriorating if blood levels of this hormone fall too low.
In fact, low testosterone can often lead to the loss of actual muscle tissue as well as bone density, meaning its effects are more than just feelings but actual physical changes as well. While these changes are also a normal part of aging, they are usually very gradual. Someone who is fit and active should not lose muscle mass or energy levels quickly just because they are getting older, but enjoy a degree of physical health that lasts. When tiredness and weakness strike an otherwise healthy person for no apparent reason, low testosterone may be involved.
Just like how women experience downswings in their mood when estrogen production slows during menopause, men can experience severe mood alterations if testosterone levels become low. According to the Mayo Clinic, men with low testosterone production often feel sad and moody and sometimes suffer from insomnia and inability to concentrate. Men can also have feelings of low self-esteem, which may be related to some of the more physical symptoms of low testosterone.
According to a recent study at Center for Andrology at George Washington University, men with low testosterone levels also have a much higher rate of depressive symptoms as well. Doctors reported that over 50 percent of men who came into the center for help with low testosterone were actively taking anti-depressants or had an active depression diagnosis that was being treated another way. While some of the physical signs of low testosterone may be downright depressing, there is also evidence that the hormone is needed to achieve healthy mood levels and mental clarity.
Combatting these symptoms can be challenging, expensive, and confusing.
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