How a Testosterone Imbalance Can Harm Men’s Health
When testosterone levels are low – too low or too high – one can be surprised at the serious health issues that can arise.
When considering testosterone, many people know it as the primary male hormone responsible for a man’s libido. While this is true and vitally important, the “right” balance of testosterone in a man plays many other vital roles in the proper functioning of the body.
As with so many bodily hormones, systems, and processes, proper testosterone balance is essential for optimal health, overall. And while it’s true that testosterone levels generally drop as a man ages, that doesn’t mean he should just “live with it.” When testosterone levels are low – too low or too high – one can be surprised at the serious health issues that can arise.
When testosterone is too low
Most of the body’s systems and processes rely on a complex, complicated and sometimes delicate balance. While there may be a range of “normal” for many of these processes, falling too low can signal health issues.
Interestingly, in men whose testosterone levels are considered clinically too low, other health conditions are also often present, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and metabolic diseases. Although there is no scientific link to indicate that low testosterone levels in men are the cause of these conditions, a great deal of research suggests that the opposite is true: obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and metabolic disease can contribute to underproduction of testosterone.
When testosterone levels drop too low, many health issues can occur, including decreased energy and libido, erectile dysfunction, irritability, and depression.
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Low testosterone levels in men
Here are some other surprising effects that low testosterone can have on men:
— Decreased bone density and strength.
Anemia is a condition in which the body does not produce enough red blood cells to carry the right amount of oxygen to the organs and tissues of the body. In older adults, anemia is common in about 10% of the population and slightly higher in men. In about a third of these cases of anemia, there is no known cause and treatment is often unsuccessful.
We know that testosterone helps in the production of red blood cells. The theory, supported by some clinical research, is that treating anemic men with testosterone replacement resulted in higher hemoglobin levels than a placebo. In addition, one study even applied testosterone treatment to men with known anemia and their hemoglobin levels increased. These studies suggest that the production of healthy red blood cells can be greatly influenced by testosterone in a man’s body.
Reduced bone density and strength
Testosterone is well known to help regulate bone mass, muscle mass, and strength. As the primary sex hormone and “natural” anabolic steroid in men, testosterone plays a vital role in promoting what are known as “secondary sex characteristics”, which include the development of muscle and bone mass. .
Clinical studies show that testosterone deficiency is the most important factor in age-related bone loss in men, especially those of older age. When testosterone levels in older men drop too low, the risk of osteoporosis and fracture increases dramatically.
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When testosterone is too high
People are often surprised to learn that too much testosterone in the body is just as problematic for overall health as too little. Some men believe that more testosterone is better—perhaps making them more manly—and might seek out supplements or other off-label testosterone treatments that can lead to serious medical complications.
High testosterone levels in men
Too much testosterone in the body can lead to an enlarged prostate as well as these other, perhaps surprising, problems:
— Low sperm count and shrinking testicles.
— Increased risk of heart attack and heart muscle damage.
Low sperm count and shrinking testicles
Excess levels of testosterone in the body (usually the result of taking supplements or other forms of testosterone therapy without consulting a doctor) can send signals to the brain that the body is making enough hormones. When this happens, the brain tells the body to stop or drastically reduce testosterone production, which can lead to low sperm count, no sperm at all, and testicular shrinkage.
Increased risk of heart attack and heart muscle damage
Whether a man’s too high testosterone level is the result of improper use of supplementation or a genetic predisposition, the result is an alarmingly increased risk of heart failure and blood clotting disorders. Interestingly, while too much testosterone is thought to be a contributor to hardening of the arteries, estrogen (the female sex hormone also present in men and converted by the body into testosterone) is known to be a heart protector. Again, hormonal balance in the body is crucial for heart and overall health.
[ SEE: 7 Signs of Depression in Men. ]
Remedy testosterone imbalance
Beyond sexual function, the proper balance of testosterone in the body is essential for overall health and well-being, especially as a man ages. Overcoming a testosterone imbalance is possible and successful for many men, but it’s not a solo journey.
Testosterone replacement therapy is an option and can help bring a man’s testosterone levels back to normal while improving symptoms related to testosterone imbalance. During treatment, your doctor should be diligent in checking testosterone levels before starting hormone replacement and closely monitoring their reaction during treatment. Since many other conditions can create similar symptoms of low or high testosterone, it is essential to consult a urology specialist for any testosterone issues before starting hormone therapy.
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How a Testosterone Imbalance Can Harm Men’s Health originally appeared on usnews.com