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Men's Health

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Keep Testosterone in Balance

Getting to the Bottom of Low T

A decrease in this hormone could be caused by a number of things, like an injury or infection in the testicles, which make testosterone. It could also be caused by tumors and diseases of the pituitary gland, which regulates how much of the hormone your body releases.

It can also be linked to a number of other ailments, like:

If you don’t have any of these conditions, your doctor may not be able to tell you why you have low T. That’s not unusual. Many older men have it, and no one knows exactly why.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t do something about it.

Treatment

Your first course of action should be to look at your lifestyle. If you’re overweight, shed some pounds. Anawalt says that most men who lose 7% to 10% of their body weight see their testosterone levels improve. “Anything that affects overall health affects testosterone,” he says. “That includes diet, exercise, drinking less booze, and not smoking. All of those things can help maintain healthy testosterone levels.”

Some doctors say that getting a good night’s sleep and reducing stress can also have a positive effect.

If those things don’t work, you might be a candidate for testosterone therapy. You can get extra doses of the hormone in several ways:

  • Injections in your muscle every 2 weeks or so
  • Patches applied to the skin daily
  • Gel rubbed into the skin daily
  • Tablets taken twice a day
  • Pellets implanted under the skin once every 3 or 4 months

There are also pills available outside the U.S. But Anawalt warns, “When you read about something that claims to be a ‘magical cure,’ be very, very skeptical.”

How long you’ll need therapy can vary, depending on the symptom(s) you’re trying to treat. For example, if you have pituitary disease, you may need therapy for the rest of your life. If you’re trying to increase your sex drive, 6 months may do the trick.

But overall, you should see a gradual increase in muscle mass and bone density, as well as higher libido. Your doctors will also look for a deeper voice and beard growth -- signs that your manliness is being restored along with your health.

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Reviewed on December 13, 2015

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