Testosterone Deficiency

Testosterone deficiencies are identified and treated by the Urology Division of Premier Medical Group. Testosterone is a male hormone produced by the testicles. It is responsible for the proper development of male sexual characteristics as well as bone growth, muscle mass and sexual function. Production of testosterone naturally decreases with age, but it can also result from damage to the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, the testicles or systemic diseases. Testosterone deficiency is also known as hypogonadism, and depending on age, could result in problems with muscle and bone development, underdeveloped genitalia and reduced virility.

What causes testosterone deficiency?

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As a man ages, the amount of testosterone in his body gradually declines. This natural decline starts after age 30 and continues throughout life. Other causes of lowered testosterone levels include:

  • Chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer
  • Genetic abnormalities (extra X chromosome)
  • Injury or infection of the testicles
  • Loss of a testicle
  • Too much iron in the body
  • Alcoholism
  • Chronic illness
  • A dysfunction of the pituitary gland
  • Inflammatory diseases
  • Certain medications, especially hormones used to treat prostate cancer
  • Kidney failure or liver cirrhosis.
  • Stress

What are the symptoms of testosterone deficiency?

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Without adequate testosterone, men may experience diminished libido, erectile dysfunction, depression, loss of body hair, mood disorders, and a decreased sense of well-being. Current research has shown that about 30% of men who are diagnosed with depression may also have an element of hypogonadism. Other symptoms can include:

  • Loss of muscle mass, with an increase in body fat.
  • Cholesterol and lipid level changes
  • Decrease in hemoglobin and possibly mild anemia.
  • Osteoporosis (fragile bones)

How is testosterone deficiency diagnosed?

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To accurately diagnose testosterone deficiency, you will need a blood test to measure the amount of testosterone in your blood. Testosterone levels tend to fluctuate throughout the day, so your doctor will want to take several measurements to assure accuracy. Usually these tests are done in the morning, when testosterone levels are at their highest.

How is testosterone deficiency treated?

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  • Testosterone patch worn either on the body or on the scrotum
  • Intramuscular injections, generally every two or three weeks
  • Testosterone gel
  • Subcutaneous pellets

There is still some controversy surrounding testosterone replacement therapy. Results from many research studies confirm its benefits, but not all risks have been addressed. There are mixed concerns about the relationship of testosterone levels and prostate cancer risk. Some research has suggested that low testosterone may actually be linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer. If you are considering hormone replacement therapy, you will need a complete prostate cancer screening first. Men who have or have had prostate cancer should not take testosterone replacement therapy without a thorough discuss of the risks and benefits with their physician.