What is Testosterone and How Can Low T Affect You?

Testosterone (T) is known as a steroid hormone produced mainly by the testicles and to a lesser extent by the adrenal glands. T level production increases significantly during puberty, and begins to dip after age 30 or so. This hormone allows for the development and maintenance of male sexual characteristics and function as well as maintaining muscle mass, energy and libido. A drop in T levels can contribute to:

  • moodiness
  • weight gain
  • loss of muscle mass
  • diminished libido

T level production naturally reduces as a man ages, but other factors can cause these hormone levels to drop too. Injury to the testicles, chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer can adversely affect testosterone production. Chronic diseases, such as AIDS, kidney disease, alcoholism, and cirrhosis of the liver can reduce testosterone production.


Treating Low T

Low testosterone can be treated with many different approaches. The most common products available for testosterone replacement are topical gels, applied daily, or weekly injections, which can be self-administered. Both are acceptable treatments, so it is based on patient preference for the treatment that suits them best.

It is important to also note that there are no oral testosterone preparations, so any advertised OTC products cannot reliably increase T levels enough to have a beneficial effect.


Testosterone Replacement Side Effects

There are some side effects to T replacement, but very few men have to discontinue T replacement because of them. These can include breast enlargement and tenderness, hair loss, acne, leg swelling and elevation of red blood count. These side effects can be reversed with medication or blood donation in the case of elevated red blood cell count.

It is also important to monitor the PSA while on replacing testosterone. While T replacement does not cause prostate cancer, a rise in the PSA blood test while on T replacement could indicate the presence of hidden prostate cancer requiring a biopsy to be performed.

Once determined that your testosterone levels are low, the physicians at Philadelphia Urology Associates can work with you to find the low T treatment that works best for you.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our Philadelphia urologists, call Philadelphia Urology Associates at (215) 563-1199 or contact us online.


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