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Men who have low testosterone do not make enough of the male hormone called testosterone. This hormone allows men to produce sperm and to develop and keep normal physical male traits. Low testosterone is also called testosterone deficiency or hypogonadism.
Low testosterone can lead to problems such as loss of sex drive, muscle weakness, erection problems, infertility, and weakened bones.
Many things can cause this problem, such as:
Low testosterone also can be present at birth.
A blood test is usually done to find out if you have low testosterone. If your doctor thinks low testosterone could be related to another medical problem, he or she may do other tests.
Since testosterone normally decreases with age, your doctor can help determine whether your symptoms are from low testosterone and whether you could benefit from treatment.
Treatment may depend on the cause. Low testosterone that causes symptoms usually is treated with testosterone hormone. This is called testosterone replacement. You can get it in different ways, such as in a shot, through a patch or gel on the skin, or in a tablet you place between your cheek and gum.
Another way to raise your testosterone is through pills that you swallow. These pills aren't testosterone. Instead they are other kinds of medicine that work well to raise testosterone levels. They include medicines such as clomiphene and letrozole.
Testosterone replacement may improve your sexual desire, increase your muscle mass, and help prevent bone loss. Many men with low testosterone levels report that they feel better and have more energy while taking testosterone.
Testosterone may be used to treat some men who have erection problems.
Side effects of testosterone replacement may include:
Testosterone replacement can increase your risk of heart attack or stroke. Talk to your doctor about this risk before you start treatment.
Some experts are concerned that testosterone could increase the risk of prostate cancer. Your doctor may recommend regular exams and blood tests to check for problems.
Testosterone can affect your fertility. If you are trying to have a child, you may want to ask your doctor if you can take a medicine that doesn't affect fertility.
Current as of:
June 4, 2014
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
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