Testosterone is a good thing and plays an important role in our overall health, but too much or not enough of it can cause a lot of trouble in our bodies.
Testosterone is a vital hormone found in both men and women. However, it is more of a male hormone, responsible for the development and maintenance of male attributes. While women also have testosterone in their bodies, they have it in much smaller amounts.
Many people associate testosterone with macho men, aggressiveness, and type A behaviour in men. But, the truth is that testosterone's relation with bad behaviour is nothing but a myth.
Testosterone has, in fact, many other roles in a man's body, from helping with muscle size and strength to libido, the deepening of the voice during puberty, facial hair appearance, sperm production, body fat distribution, and red blood cell production.
Now, with so many things to help the body with, it's only normal that a testosterone imbalance can cause havoc in the body.
Testosterone imbalance explained
More often than not, when people hear about testosterone imbalance, they think of low levels of the hormone in the body. Yet, the truth is that testosterone imbalance can also mean too much testosterone.
Obviously, these are two different affections caused by different things and affect males in different ways. What's more, they often also have other symptoms, which can help men identify whether they are dealing with too low or too high levels of testosterone in their bodies.
Testosterone deficiency basically means that a man's body isn't producing sufficient testosterone. This creates an imbalance in the body as there is not enough primary male hormone to fulfil all the roles that testosterone has in the body. Data shows that testosterone deficiency is a condition that affects over 40% of men aged 45 and older, and it is a much more common hormonal imbalance problem than high testosterone. In other words, more men deal with low testosterone levels than too high levels of the hormone.
Now, it is essential to know that low levels of testosterone are actually a normal phenomenon that happens as men age. More precisely, researchers have found that testosterone levels drop by 1% to 2% every year as men age. However, researchers have also found that over a third of men over the age of 45 actually have lower testosterone levels than considered normal.
Signs of low testosterone
How to recognize testosterone deficiency? There are a few signs that may indicate a man is dealing with this affection, including:
- Reduced or total loss of body and facial hair.
- Low sexual drive, impotence, infertility.
- Hot flashes.
- Reduced bone and muscle mass.
- Reduced amount of semen.
- Troubles with sleep.
- Reduction in testicle size.
- An increase in body fat.
- Decreased energy levels.
- Mood swings.
- Problems with focus and concentration.
Causes of too little testosterone
The real question here that every man wants to know the answer to is "what causes low testosterone levels in the body?" Once again, many things, including:
- Normal ageing.
- Injury/ trauma/ infection of the testes.
- Treatment for cancer such as chemotherapy.
- Certain medications like opioids, steroids, and hormones used in the treatment of prostate cancer.
- Substance abuse.
- Extreme body weight (obesity or anorexia).
- Untreated type 2 diabetes mellitus.
- Klinefelter's syndrome.
- Severe emotional or physical stress from an illness or surgery.
- Kallmann syndrome.
In contrast, high testosterone means that a man's body is producing too much of this hormone, causing an imbalance. However, an abnormal natural increase of testosterone is not a common condition that men deal with. Most of the too much testosterone problems usually appear in men who use anabolic steroids, testosterone, or other related hormones that are known to help increase muscle mass and performance in sports.
Signs of too much testosterone
Signs of too high levels of testosterone in the body include:
- Blood pressure that goes up or down.
- Excessive body hair growth.
- Mood swings.
- Sleep apnea.
Causes of too much testosterone
What causes the testosterone levels to increase too much?
- Tumours near hormonal glands.
- The use of anabolic steroids.
- Accidental touch of testosterone gel.
What is testosterone replacement therapy?
Testosterone replacement therapy is a treatment option for low levels of testosterone, the most common testosterone imbalance condition. It is a treatment option that can help promote youth and vitality in men.
Testosterone replacement therapy is available in several forms that can help improve testosterone levels in men. More precisely, testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) can include:
- Skin patches- It involves wearing a skin patch on the arm or upper body. It actions transdermal, and a new skin patch needs to be applied every day.
- Gels: testosterone gels are also available, and they need to be applied once a day. They are absorbed directly through the skin. There are also some gels that need to be applied inside the nose, but these ones need to be prescribed by a doctor.
- Mouth patches: Testosterone mouth patches are basically tablets that stick to the upper gum above the incisor. Once applied, it releases testosterone into the blood through the oral tissue.
- Injections and implants: Testosterone injections are injected directly into the muscles, while testosterone implants are implanted as pellets in the soft tissue.
Besides these forms, testosterone pills are also available. However, most medical specialists agree that testosterone pills may negatively affect the liver. The methods mentioned above bypass the liver and get the hormone directly into the blood. You can find more advice and guidance on the right TRT option for you here.
Testosterone replacement therapy can have several benefits for men dealing with low levels of this hormone. More precisely, it can improve sexual function, and evidence shows that it can also improve other functions like vitality and energy.
TRT is also not free of risks, especially if the treatment is aiming to treat normal ageing testosterone levels decrease. For example, men who undertake testosterone therapy may deal with acne or other skin reactions, worsening sleep apnea, increased red blood cell production, enlarging breasts. That is why it is essential to get professional medical advice before undertaking testosterone therapy.