Low testosterone levels
David J. Grossklaus, MD, is a physician with privileges at Banner Baywood Medical Center in Mesa, Ariz.
Question: My doctor told me I have a low testosterone level. What does this mean, and what can happen if it gets too low?
Answer: Testosterone is the hormone produced in men’s testicles; it contributes to male attributes such as muscle mass, hair patterns and sexual drive.
As men age, the testicles can decrease their production of testosterone, leading to a loss of energy, loss of sex drive and decrease in muscle mass or increase in body fat.
Testosterone replacement is available and can improve some of the symptoms of lack of testosterone. Testosterone replacement cannot be given by pills, but can be given in injections, gels, creams or pellets.
Testosterone replacement can be expensive and may have side effects; it can damage the liver or affect the bone marrow and can increase the rate of prostate cancer growth if prostate cancer is present.
Blood tests of liver functions, blood count and PSA need to be checked regularly if testosterone replacement is used. As is the case with female hormone replacement, there may be long term complications of testosterone replacement that we do not yet know. Consult your physician to discuss testosterone replacement therapy if you have been diagnosed with a low testosterone level.