Testosterone deficiency – a much underdiagnosed problem in men

Testosterone is a male sex hormone (there’s others), chemically it’s based on Cholesterol, and its effects are mediated through binding to specialised intracellular Androgen receptors, the gene for which is localised on the human X chromosome.
Testosterone and its metabolites are responsible for the development of the male genital, for virilisation and sperm production. Effects on other tissues include thickening of skin and increase in activity of sebaceous glands, the growing of the larynx during puberty that leads to voice change, body growth, fat absorption, stimulation of hematopoesis (making red blood cells), inhibition of bone reduction. In the central nervous system Testosterone has psychotropic effects on things like aggression, impulse, concentration, libido and creativity.

So you can deduce from this list what symptoms we can expect when Testosterone levels are too low. We call this condition descriptively Testosterone deficiency (TD), or hypogonadism. It is not rare, and probably vastly underdiagnosed.

A new study published this month in the American Journal of Medicine has looked at TD, and they claim a prevalence of 30% of men over the age of 40, which means one in three men over 40 are deficient of Testosterone.
The important fact here is that Testosterone and the changes it can induce in men’s bodies have a bidirectional relationship. For example, TD is more common in obese people, or those with Diabetes, high Cholesterol or high blood pressure, but at the same time, TD can also cause or worsen these conditions. We know that the cardiovascular mortality of TD sufferers is increased, meaning that those men with low Testosterone levels are at higher risk of arteriosclerotic complications such as heart attacks and strokes. Here is an overview of the most common symptoms of TD :

So it is important that men take note when they experience erectile dysfunction (can’t get it up) or libido loss (can’t be bothered to get it up), but also more general symptoms like fatigue, apathy, mood swings, memory problems, or weight gain, high blood pressure or raised blood sugar levels, as these symptoms can all potentially be caused by Testosterone deficiency (You might remember Robbie Williams recently admitting to having TD, and receiving Testosterone injections).

Testosterone levels, like all hormone levels, fluctuate in the blood during the day, so measurements should either be taken in the morning, or as a profile, with multiple measurements in a day. If the levels are found to be low, Testosterone can be replaced by either intramuscular injection, skin patch, gel or tablets. Some side effects can be expected from its natural actions, such as acne or oily skin, a degree of prostate enlargement, some fluid retention, possibly growth of breast tissue, and changes in Cholesterol or blood sugar levels (by the way, Testosterone does not make schlongs grow longer in adults).

So this is a treatable condition that is currently vastly underdiagnosed, and health care providers as well as patients need to take note of this, and be aware of TD, and not only for male sexual health problems like erectile dysfunction or loss of libido, but also for the potentially profound effects on metabolic and cardiovascular function. It’s something worth talking to your GP about, guys !

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