Healthy Tahoe: The Role of Testosterone in Men’s Health
Low testosterone, also known as “low T,” is a common condition in men as they age. Testosterone levels peak around age 30 and naturally decline with age. However, as the decline is gradual, many men don’t realize the impact that low testosterone levels can have on their quality of life and overall health.
Testosterone is a sex hormone that is produced primarily in a man’s testicles. During puberty, testosterone plays a key role in a man’s physical development; it grows hair on the face, strengthens muscles and deepens voice. Later in life, testosterone also plays an important role in a man’s sexual function and metabolic health.
Decreasing testosterone levels has long been considered a natural part of the aging process. The older a man gets, the more his testosterone levels can drop. Low levels of testosterone can have real and significant health effects, especially on a man’s sex life. Men with low testosterone may find it difficult to get and maintain an erection. The erections they have may come less often and not as hard as before. A man’s desire to have sex (libido) also decreases as testosterone drops. Additionally, low testosterone has been linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, weight gain, depression, and reduced quality of life due to lack of energy.
Men with reduced libido or erection problems should make an appointment with their primary care provider; a blood test can help identify low testosterone and rule out any serious causes.
Testosterone levels can rise and fall over the course of the day and more than one test may be needed, or a doctor may encourage a blood test in the morning, which is when testosterone levels are highest.
If testosterone levels are low, testosterone replacement therapy may be prescribed in the form of a topical gel, injection, patch, or implant. Testosterone replacement therapy can help increase sex drive and energy levels, and may reduce the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression in men.
The unknowns associated with aging are intimidating, but it might not necessarily be something men have to live with. Low testosterone levels can be supplemented, helping men get back an important part of their lives.
Dr. Brain Steixner is a Certified Urologist who treats men, women and children for a variety of urological issues at Barton Urology in South Lake Tahoe. To view a list of patient services, visit bartonhealth.org/urology or call 530-543-5400.