Testosterone is a hormone present in both men and women. However, its role is much more apparent in men, where its concentration is ten or more times greater than in women, resulting initially in typical masculine changes through puberty and then continuing to help mature sperm and build up muscle mass.
Rarely, a man can be born with low testosterone levels- either because the brain doesn’t release the starter hormones to stimulate the testicles to produce it, or because of the testicles themselves aren’t able to. Others can later end up in a testosterone deficient state from a number of unfortunate reasons, ranging from diseases such as an undescended testicle, a brain tumour or mumps to the side effects of medications or cancer treatment (chemotherapy and radiotherapy.)
But by far, the largest group of testosterone deficient men are simply regular disease-free men with normal levels in youth now suffering the inevitable decline with advancing age. From the peak in a man’s 20’s, testosterone levels begin to gradually decline from age 30. By age 40 up to 10-30% of men are already deficient and this percentage only rises further with age, becoming a bigger and more frequent problem.
The most notable symptoms of testosterone deficiency pertain to sex- reduced appetite (libido), reduced erections (particularly in the morning) and reduced enjoyment from sex. The other major notable symptom is a decrease in mood- from a combination of decreased energy levels, concentration and memory. Given its role in building muscle, a fall in testosterone also means reduced lean muscle mass, leading to the typical unfavourable body shape associated with older men. Research further suggests that testosterone deficiency can cause weakening of the vertebrae in the lower spine.
This creates the difficulty of distinguishing in any individual how much of the deficiency is simply normal aging compared to an abnormal medical condition needing treatment. At present this is done is a blood test checking how low the testosterone level is compared to the normal. Those with very low levels require treatment as do those whose life is significantly impacted by the symptoms no matter what their readings are.
The treatment is simply to replace the lacking testosterone. However, this has proven more difficult that expected, particularly in regard to concerns over long-term safety. Testosterone replacement- in the form on an injection or gel- has some short-term side effects of oily skin and fluid retention, but over the long term it has been implicated as increasing the prostate-specific antigen level (a marker for prostate cancer) and making the blood thicker, resulting in increased heart attack risk. Most notably, a clinical trial was stopped over these very concerns and subsequent legislation has led to testosterone replacement becoming more restricted.
Therefore, it is important to consult a doctor to decide if testosterone replacement is suitable for you. Here at Dokteronline we have honoured the legislation and safety concerns and no longer offer the products. Even if it transpires to not be suitable or you have reservations over the treatment then these simple interventions may boost your testosterone levels safely: supplement your Vitamin D level, take short intense bursts of exercise (around 20 minutes) and take Zinc supplements. It may sounds like a new year’s resolution list, but it may just be the way to get safely to a new and improved you.