Do you have low testosterone levels?

This one is just for the guys today. An increasing number of men are experiencing a drop in testosterone levels. Could this explain your symptoms?

It’s what gives a man facial and chest hair, builds his muscles and deepens his voice, and gives him a sex drive. In other words, testosterone is the hormone that makes a man a man. During puberty, testosterone levels are high, but after a man reaches his 30s, testosterone levels often begin to decrease, creating a long list of possible symptoms. Sometimes, the symptoms caused by low testosterone are mistakenly blamed on diabetes, thyroid problems, high blood pressure or depression, so it’s important to get to the root of the problem.

What symptoms are associated with low testosterone and what’s the cause of the drop in hormones? Are there ways to boost your levels and regain your sex drive?

When you think of testosterone, you think of a man’s sexual function, but this hormone is responsible for other body processes as well. Therefore, when it’s low, you may have both sexual and non-sexual symptoms.

In the bedroom department you can expect low libido, trouble getting and maintaining an erection and a decrease in sexual activity. Out of the bedroom, low testosterone levels may lead to weight gain, fatigue, depression and a loss of muscle and bone mass.

Not enough testosterone is associated with other health problems as well. An estimated four out of 10 men with high cholesterol or high blood pressure also have low testosterone. Half of diabetic and/or obese men are low in testosterone. And who abuse alcohol and drugs, typically show lower than normal levels of testosterone.

Men who experience symptoms like those listed above should see their doctor for a blood test measures testosterone levels. A normal range for healthy men measures between 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) and 1,200 ng/dL. Any time your testosterone level drops below 300 ng/dL you’ll most likely notice something isn’t right.

A below-normal score can be caused by many different factors, including hormonal disorders, an infection, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, injury to the testicles (where testosterone is produced), testicular cancer, liver or kidney disease, HIV/AIDS, medications, genetic disorders, and down rite normal aging. Determining the cause of your unhealthy testosterone levels will make it possible to get it back to normal.

Want to know the number one natural way of pumping up testosterone? Yup, you guessed it – exercise. This is hands down the best way to regulate your hormones and to get your ‘T’ back up in no time. Couple that with slowing down on the beer and eating better, you will be back to yourself in no time.

But for some (very, very few), this is not quite enough and a visit to the doctor is the best route.

There are various ways to increase your testosterone levels through hormone replacement therapy. Most men choose to use gel therapy for low testosterone. After showering, you merely rub a gel on your upper arms or shoulders, being careful that other people aren’t exposed to this area of your skin.

Other choices are to undergo injections of testosterone. For men trying to increase their sperm strength and production to increase their fertility, this is a good choice, and the most effective option is to get the injections every few weeks.

Patches, implantable pellets and oral pills are also available hormone replacement therapy options that are chosen by some.

While symptoms related to low testosterone levels are improved in a few weeks of treatment (increased energy, libido, muscle mass), there are risks involved and close monitoring is important. Testosterone therapy can lead to breast growth, increased size of the prostate, raised red blood cell count, sleep apnea and urinary tract problems. Long-term treatment may also actually lower fertility. Men who’ve had breast or prostate cancer should not receive testosterone therapy.

Low testosterone is also called hypogonadism or Andropause. It’s estimated that 39% of men 45 and older have low levels of this important hormone. Low ‘T’ is a lot more prevalent than you probably think.

Low ‘T’ is a common issue and should not be ignored or shied away from. Take this battle head on and you can overcome it.

Like I said, the best way to overcome low ‘T’ is through regular exercise and healthy eating. Kind of weird that exercise and healthy eating usually fixes things though?

Jack Wheeler is a personal trainer and owner of 360 Fitness in Red Deer.