For men, testosterone is made in the testicles and is essential for male growth and development. Women also produce it in their ovaries and adrenal glands, but in much lower quantities. During adolescence and early adulthood, testosterone production increases by about 30 times. After early adulthood, levels naturally decrease at about 1% per year.
Testosterone plays a crucial role in your:
If you experience symptoms such as decreased muscle mass, increased body fat, or erectile dysfunction, you must consult a doctor. This is because although low testosterone is natural with age, these symptoms can be a sign of other underlying conditions.
If your doctor has diagnosed you with hypogonadism or has recommended testosterone replacement therapy for other conditions, it may be beneficial to increase your testosterone levels. However, if you have normal testosterone levels, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that increasing your testosterone levels will provide any additional benefits. The benefits of increased testosterone levels have only been scientifically observed in people with low levels.
The human heart is responsible for circulating blood throughout the body, ensuring that muscles and organs receive the necessary oxygen for optimal performance. Testosterone supports red blood cell production by stimulating the bone marrow. Insufficient levels of testosterone have been associated with various cardiovascular risks.
However, can treatment with testosterone replacement therapy help treat heart disease? Findings from research studies offer conflicting results. In the early 2000s, small studies indicated that men with heart disease who underwent testosterone therapy experienced only minor improvements, with some able to increase their walking distance by 33%. Another study revealed that hormone therapy only expanded healthy arteries without any effect on angina pain.
A more recent, comprehensive study which involved 83,000 men discovered that those whose testosterone levels returned to normal were 24% less likely to suffer a heart attack and 36% less likely to experience a stroke.
The hormone testosterone plays a vital role in building muscle mass. Lower levels of this hormone can contribute to weight gain and reduced energy levels. Medical research suggests that men with low levels of testosterone can benefit from treatment, which can result in a reduction of body fat and an increase in muscle size and strength. While some men may not experience increased strength, they may still see a change in lean body mass. The benefits of testosterone therapy are maximised when combined with regular exercise and strength training.
As men age and experience a drop in testosterone levels, bone mineral density is greatly affected. This can increase the risk of osteoporosis and weaker bones, impacting athletic performance due to inadequate support for muscles and internal organs.
Recent research has shown that testosterone treatment can increase bone density, especially when administered in sufficiently high doses. Clinical trials have demonstrated an increase in spinal and hip bone density as a result of testosterone treatment. A study on females transitioning into males found that testosterone effectively increased bone mineral density. However, it is currently unknown whether testosterone can reduce the risk of fractures.
Studies indicate that males with higher levels of total testosterone have a lower occurrence of Alzheimer's disease. Additionally, there is proof of a significant association between testosterone and cognitive functions like verbal memory and faster cognitive processing. From ages 34 to 70, testosterone therapy for men has demonstrated an enhancement in spatial memory.
Sexual arousal and activity can cause an increase in testosterone levels in the body. A higher testosterone level is associated with more sexual activity among men. As men age, they require a more significant amount of testosterone to maintain libido and erectile function. It is important to note that erectile dysfunction is often caused by other factors or medications rather than low testosterone levels.
Research indicates that testosterone therapy can have positive effects on sexual health and performance. However, testosterone levels can only be raised so much before there are no further benefits. For men who do not have hypogonadism, increasing testosterone levels may not improve libido.
Lower levels of testosterone have been linked to a decrease in quality of life. Indications of low testosterone levels consist of depression, fatigue, and irritability; however, research shows that this may only apply to men with hypogonadism. Men with normal testosterone levels who experience a natural decrease over time did not exhibit an increase in depression.
The impact of testosterone replacement therapy on mood can vary. Men with hypogonadism have reported an improvement in mood and well-being, as well as a reduction in fatigue and irritability. Studies suggest that this treatment may also be an effective treatment for depression.
Prescription testosterone treatments come in many forms, such as gels, skin patches, and intramuscular injections. While each has its benefits, they also come with potential side effects. For example, patches may irritate the skin, while injections may lead to mood swings. In addition, using the gel may carry risks if shared with others. Some common side effects of testosterone therapy include:
Men with prostate or breast cancer should not use testosterone therapy, as it may worsen their condition. Additionally, older people who suffer from sleep apnea should be aware that testosterone treatment may aggravate their condition.
Treatment is typically unnecessary if your testosterone levels are within the normal range. Testosterone replacement therapy is mainly beneficial for men with low testosterone levels, and it should not be purchased without a prescription. If you suspect low testosterone levels, it's essential to consult your doctor. A blood test can determine your testosterone levels and help identify any underlying health issues.
Opinions among doctors and researchers vary regarding the effectiveness of testosterone replacement therapy, with mixed study results for most conditions. Exercise and a healthy diet are essential for maximising testosterone treatment's benefits. Regular follow-up care and monitoring are also recommended.
If you are concerned about low testosterone levels, it is crucial to speak with your healthcare provider. Alternative and natural treatments may help increase testosterone, such as certain foods, vitamins, and herbs. However, these treatments have not been proven to be as effective as traditional testosterone therapy and may interact with medications you are taking, potentially causing unintended side effects.
Mobi Doctor is here to offer assistance and support if you are concerned about testosterone levels and potential treatments. Our healthcare professionals can provide guidance, conduct necessary tests, and offer personalised advice to address your needs and concerns.