Testosterone is the most important sex hormone in the male body. It is responsible for physical changes during puberty such as facial hair, a deepening of the voice and an increase in muscle mass. Throughout adulthood, testosterone helps maintain sex drive and keeps a man’s muscles and bones healthy. There are an estimated 5 million men in the United States who suffer from hormone deficiency. Low testosterone affects about one in ten men between the ages of 40-60 and more than 2 in 10 in men over age 60.
Testosterone levels slowly decline in men as they age. Starting at age 30, testosterone levels drop by about 10% every decade. In some older men, testosterone levels decline below the normal range, and this may be accompanied by various physical symptoms. The signs and symptoms of testosterone deficiency include: low sex drive, erectile dysfunction (impotence), reduced muscle mass and strength, decreased bone density, difficulty concentrating, depression, and fatigue such as falling asleep in the afternoon or after the evening meal.
The diagnosis of testosterone deficiency is accomplished following a medical history, a physical examination and a blood test. Because testosterone levels peak in the morning, it is suggested to have the blood test early in the day or before noon if possible. Testosterone deficiency is very common in middle age and older men and produces symptoms which impact a man’s health and quality of life. The diagnosis is confirmed with a simple blood test. With proper monitoring, testosterone therapy can be an effective and safe form of treatment.
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