6 Ways to Take Control of Low Testosterone
Are you less interested in sex than usual? Is your ability to have sex not as strong as it used to be? If so, you might be wondering if you have low testosterone, called low T. You might also be wondering what you can do to take control of the situation. Here are six steps you can take to verify if you, in fact, have low T, and the best available strategies to reverse it.
Step 1: Learn the Basics
Testosterone is the male hormone. It's responsible for the changes that take place during puberty. These include the deepening of your voice, the increase in your muscle size, and the growth of facial and body hair.
Testosterone is made in your testicles.
Testosterone increases your sex drive.
Testosterone starts a natural decline in all men after age 30.
By the time your reach age 60, there's a 20% chance your testosterone will be low.
Step 2: Know the Symptoms
Not everyone with low testosterone has symptoms. If you don’t have symptoms, you don’t need to be treated. But talk with your health care provider if you notice the following symptoms:
You have little interest in sex.
Your energy level is low.
You're often depressed and irritable.
You have trouble getting an erection.
Step 3: Get Tested
Symptoms of low testosterone can mimic symptoms of other conditions. A simple early morning blood test can tell if your symptoms are truly from low testosterone. Your level of testosterone is highest in the morning. It is measured in nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl). If your testosterone level is lower than 300 ng/dl, you may have low T. Your health care provider will also take your health history and perform a physical exam to look for symptoms and signs of low testosterone.
Step 4: Weigh Your Risks and Benefits Before Treatment
Low T treatment may help if you have symptoms, signs, and a testosterone level lower than 300 ng/dl. But talk with your health care provider to make sure the benefits of treatment are greater than the risks. Testosterone therapy can make some health conditions worse. Tell your health care provider if you have:
A history of prostate cancer or male breast cancer.
Loud snoring and interrupted breathing at night (sleep apnea).
Trouble passing urine because of an enlarged prostate.
Coronary heart disease.
Step 5: Ask Your Health Care Provider About Treatment Options
Testosterone treatment comes in several forms. Talk with your health care provider about the pros and cons of each. The most common options are injections, a gel, and patches. Another option is a pellet your health care provider places under your skin and replaces every few months. Be sure to ask about possible side effects of treatment. They can include breast enlargement, prostate growth, acne, and skin reactions.
Step 6: Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices
Whether or not testosterone is right for you, healthy lifestyle choices are important for healthy testosterone levels:
Get regular exercise
Keep a healthy weight
Get enough sleep
Don’t abuse alcohol
By age 60, you have about a one in five chance of having low testosterone.
If you have symptoms of low testosterone and a low level on your blood test, treatment could be helpful.
Ask your health care provider if the benefits outweigh the risks for you.
Healthy lifestyles are also important for maintaining testosterone levels. In addition, healthy lifestyles relieve some of the common symptoms of low T, such as low energy and irritability.
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