Testosterone is a hormone produced by the testicles and is responsible for the proper development of male sexual characteristics. Testosterone is also important for maintaining muscle bulk, adequate levels of red blood cells, bone growth, a sense of well-being, and sexual function.
Inadequate production of testosterone is not a common cause of erectile dysfunction; however, when ED does occur due to decreased testosterone production, testosterone replacement therapy may improve the problem.
The only accurate way to detect the condition is to have your doctor measure the amount of testosterone in your blood. Because testosterone levels fluctuate throughout the day, several measurements will need to be taken to detect a deficiency. Doctors prefer, if possible, to test levels early in the morning since this is when testosterone levels are at their highest.
How Is Low Testosterone Treated?
Testosterone deficiency can be treated by:
Intramuscular injections, given anywhere from two to 10 weeks apart
Testosterone patch worn either on the body or on the scrotum (the sac that contains the testicles)
Testosterone gel applied to the skin or inside the nose
Mucoadhesive material applied above the teeth twice a day
Long-acting subcutaneous implant
Testosterone stick (apply like underarm deodorant)
Each of these options provides adequate levels of hormone replacement; however, they all have different advantages and disadvantages. Talk to your doctor to see which approach may be right for you.
Who Shouldn't Take Testosterone Replacement Therapy?
Men who have prostate cancer or breast cancer should not take testosterone replacement therapy. All men considering testosterone replacement therapy should undergo a thorough prostate cancer screening prior to starting this therapy with a rectal exam and PSA test.