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Published on June 12, 2017

Could you have low testosterone?

Men, if you have fatigue, a decreased sex drive or just don’t feel like yourself, low testosterone could be to blame.

What is testosterone?

Testosterone is a hormone produced by the testicles. It gives men those classic “masculine” characteristics like facial hair and a deep voice. It is also responsible for:

• Bone density

• Muscle mass

• Red blood cell production

• Sexual and reproductive function

What are the symptoms of low testosterone?

Symptoms vary from person to person, but often include:

• Decreased sex drive

• Erectile dysfunction

• Fatigue

• Feelings of depression

• Gynecomastia, or breast development

• Increased body fat

• Irritability

• Loss of body hair

• Loss of muscle strength

• Mild anemia

• Moodiness

• Osteoporosis

• Trouble with concentration and memory

Is low testosterone preventable?

Testosterone levels naturally and gradually drop with age. While research has not shown ways to prevent its decrease, you can help keep your testosterone levels steady with a healthy lifestyle, including:

• A nutritious diet

• Regular exercise

• Maintaining a healthy weight

• Not abusing drugs or alcohol

Who is at risk for low testosterone?

The following factors can contribute to low testosterone:

• Cancer treatment

• Certain illnesses or disorders

• Certain medications

• Injury to the testicles

• Normal aging

• Obesity

• Undescended testicle

How is it diagnosed?

Your doctor can check for low testosterone with a simple blood test.

What are my treatment options?

Your doctor can help you decide if testosterone replacement therapy is right for you. Options include:

• Gel applied daily

• Injections into a muscle every 10 to 14 days

• Patches worn every day on various parts of the body, like the arms, back or abdomen

• Pellets implanted under the skin every eight weeks

• Tablets taken daily by mouth

Testosterone replacement therapy can have side effects in some men, such as:

• Decreased sperm count, which affects fertility

• Increased prostate-specific antigen (PSA)

• Increased red blood cell count

Treatment can also cause the prostate to grow and it is not recommended for men who have:

• A prostate lump

• Breast cancer

• Congestive heart failure

• Elevated red blood cells

• Enlarged prostate

• Prostate cancer

• PSA levels above 4

• Untreated sleep apnea

Always talk to your doctor before beginning hormone treatments or taking supplements of any kind.

What should I do next?

Schedule an annual physical with your primary care doctor and talk to him or her if you are concerned about low testosterone. Visit our Find a Doctor page to find a doctor near you.