Testosterone supplements are associated, albeit often mistakenly, with athletes who want to improve their performance. However, there is another medical use for them. Indeed, all men should learn to recognize the signs of testosterone deficiency in order to prevent its negative consequences on their sex life.
For many people, a man’s testosterone level is determined by the size of his biceps and the tightness of his “six-pack”. But even the most popular of Hollywood’s muscle men could one day be faced with an upsetting reality: testosterone deficiency. Would you know how to recognize its impact on your life? Although this condition is not well known, it is much more common than we think and should therefore be given more attention.
What is testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone that is part of a group of hormones called androgens. In men, it is mostly produced by the testicles. Women also have this hormone (in the ovaries), but in much lower quantities, and for both sexes, it is responsible for sexual desire. It is important to note that, in both men and women, the adrenal glands also produce small quantities of testosterone.
Testosterone is a sexual hormone that contributes to the development of typically male physical characteristics, such as:
- lower-pitched voice;
- muscle development;
- hair growth on face and body;
- sperm production;
- maintenance of healthy, strong bones.
Because testosterone also influences sexual desire and performance in men, a deficiency can lower one’s quality of life.
Testosterone and male sexuality
Testosterone deficiency most often manifests itself through an increase in fatigue and a decrease in libido, i.e. an unexplained long-term lack of sexual desire. Testosterone deficiency can also be the cause of these following symptoms:
- decreased intensity of orgasm;
- decreased sensation in the genital organs;
- inability to obtain or maintain an erection;
- depressed mood;
- difficulty concentrating.
A man’s testosterone level is usually at its highest during adolescence or early adulthood. Naturally, it lowers by about 1% per year starting at age 30. In addition, most men notice a difference in sexual response starting between the ages of 60 and 65.
Diabetic people are at higher risk of having testosterone deficiency. Genetic problems, a physical disability that has been present since birth or an injury (trauma, surgery, etc.) can also cause a decrease in a man’s production of testosterone.
Your doctor may perform a blood test in the morning to measure the level of testosterone in your blood. If it is low and you are experiencing symptoms, he or she might suggest a testosterone-based treatment for you. Your doctor will then have to evaluate your overall health condition since these supplements are not suitable for some men, for example those who have prostate or breast cancer, or other problems related to the prostate, liver, heart of lungs.
Testosterone supplements are available by prescription in tablets, injections, skin patches and gel. Each of these formulations has its own advantages and disadvantages, so discuss them with your pharmacist or doctor to choose the medication that suits you best. Your pharmacist will then be able to explain how it works and how to administer it. Also, you may have to monitor your liver enzymes, red blood cells and cholesterol levels through blood tests. And finally, during your treatment, your testosterone level will be checked periodically, also through blood tests, in order to adjust your dosage as needed.
During your treatment, you may experience some side effects, such as:
- changes in mood or behaviour;
- hair loss;
If you notice unusual signs or symptoms during your treatment, contact your pharmacist; he or she will give you the appropriate information.
The effect of treatment will not be immediate, which is why continued use over several weeks might prove necessary to see positive changes. Perseverance is key since testosterone deficiency cannot be cured; it requires taking medication every day.
Women (especially pregnant women) and children must not come into contact with these types of medication, unless it is recommended by a doctor. Make sure you store them in a safe place, out of sight and reach of children. The bathroom is not advised.
As the population ages, testosterone deficiency will become a much more frequent problem. Although it can be difficult to broach this topic with your doctor, your willingness to overcome shyness will allow you to get treated and return to a satisfying sex life. So speak up… your well-being depends on it!