A recent study suggested that about 13 million men in the US alone have a condition that few guys have ever heard of, but which may be causing them some real problems. The condition? Medically, it’s called hypogonadism, but it’s easier to call it “low testosterone” or just “low T.”
Testosterone levels peak around age 20-30 and then start a gradual decline of about 1% a year. If a guy didn’t have a lot of testosterone to begin with (and guys vary a lot in that department) then his testosterone levels could drop below the 300 ng/ml level which is usually considered the low end of “normal.” At these levels, a guy might feel any – or all – of the following symptoms:
- Tiredness or loss of energy
- Low sexual interest
- Weight gain around the waist
- Problems getting or maintaining an erection
- Depressed mood
- Decreased sense of well-being
- Small or soft testicles
If a man is feeling any of these symptoms, he should see a doctor and have his testosterone level checked (it requires a small sample of blood, just like a cholesterol test). If you find out you’ve got low T, you’ve got some options.
First off, there are things a guy can do to raise his T levels naturally:
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a healthy diet
- Lose some weight (fat – especially belly fat – acts like a testosterone “sponge”)
- Quit smoking
A guy with low T also has medical options, the most popular being a testosterone gel. These products, which are prescription only, are applied daily to the skin of the shoulders, upper arms, or abdomen. The testosterone in the gel is absorbed into the body through the skin. If used correctly, testosterone levels can return to normal and stay there. Testosterone can also be raised via injections or patches. Your doctor can advise you about which delivery route might be best for you.
Testosterone replacement isn’t a cure-all, and it shouldn’t be used unless a guy has true hypogonadism. But I’ve seen it work for many of my patients, who report having more energy and a renewed interest in sex.
And I’ll end with a note to any women who might be reading this: most guys don’t know anything about low T, and they are generally hesitant to see a doctor about anything related to sex. Women partners can play a key role in this kind of situation. By recognizing the symptoms of low T, explaining that it’s a medical condition affecting millions of other guys, and suggesting that their man see a doctor, women can help restore lost sexuality that both they and their partner desire.