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Men's Health

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How Low Testosterone Affects Your Health

Dropping levels of this male hormone can cause more than sexual problems. It can also affect your mood, weight, and concentration.

The Role of Testosterone

Evans's description resonates with Edmund Sabanegh, chair of the urology department and director of the Center for Male Infertility at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. "I look at testosterone as jet fuel. It keeps men running. Diminished mental clarity, motivation, drive -- all of these things can be related to low testosterone."

Testosterone plays a big role throughout a man's life. The hormone is the prime driver of puberty, responsible for the deepening of the voice, the development of muscles, and the growth of pubic hair. Without testosterone, there would be no beards or mustaches since it regulates facial hair. Sperm production falls under testosterone's control. In sum, it's the hormone that makes a man a man, and it is what gives men their appetite for sex.

While a decline in blood testosterone may be a normal part of aging and the most common cause of low testosterone, it is not the only one. Testicular cancer as well as the chemo and radiation used to treat it and other forms of cancer can deplete a man's levels of the hormone. Excess alcohol and certain medications may also be the cause. Pituitary and thyroid diseases as well as injuries to the testes can also drain your testosterone.

The Hidden Effects of Low Testosterone

Testosterone is more than just fuel for a sex machine. Low testosterone levels can also cause:

  • Decreases in bone density, which can lead to osteoporosis
  • Diminishing ability to concentrate, as well as irritability and depression
  • Increases in body fat, particularly in the midsection where the buildup puts them at heightened risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.


Treating Low Testosterone

Fortunately, there are effective remedies to raise testosterone back up to a normal level. Sabanegh likes his patients' levels to hover around 300 to 500 ng/dL. Treatment comes in several different forms, each with its own pros and cons.

Deep muscle injections are the oldest and least expensive treatment. Given anywhere from every two to 10 weeks, they give patients the biggest boost in the first few days, after which levels begin to drop. They're not for the needle shy, and they can be painful when receiving the injection itself.

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