Testosterone is most often associated with masculinity. Everything from facial hair to a deeper voice is influenced by a man’s testosterone levels, which typically peak by age 19 and then gradually decline throughout adulthood. In some cases, the drop is enough to warrant testosterone replacement therapy for men in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Shreveport, or other areas of Louisiana.
Declining testosterone levels lead to physical changes around middle age—a period sometimes referred to as andropause—which can include less muscle mass, reduced physical performance, and weight gain. These changes are expected, and lower testosterone levels that are within a normal range don’t pose health concerns for the majority of men.
What Is Low T?
Some men, however, experience a more substantial drop in testosterone levels that can lead to symptoms affecting the quality of their lives. Low testosterone—often called low T—can impact your muscle and bone strength, sex drive, energy levels, and mental clarity.
Some of the specific symptoms that indicate lower-than-normal testosterone levels include:
- Erectile dysfunction (ED) and loss of sex drive
- Fatigue and problems sleeping
- Decreased muscle mass and brittle bones
- Loss of body and facial hair
- Depression, irritability, or memory loss
Men experiencing some or all of these symptoms can get their testosterone levels checked with a blood test. If you’re diagnosed with low T, hormone replacement therapy—often combined with lifestyle changes— is one of the most commonly pursued treatment options.
What Are the Benefits of Testosterone Replacement Therapy?
If underlying conditions are ruled out as the cause of low T and you remain bothered by some of the symptoms mentioned earlier, testosterone replacement therapy can help.
Testosterone therapy patients may experience several benefits from the treatment, including:
Less fat, more muscle
Even men who remain dedicated to regular exercise can find themselves gaining weight and losing muscle mass as they get older because of low testosterone levels. If you’ve spent any time online researching low T, you’ve probably encountered numerous ads for ways to decrease belly fat. That’s where fat tends to accumulate for men with low T. Not only do low testosterone levels lead to weight gain, but studies show that carrying excess weight results in declining testosterone levels. That’s because fat actually contains an enzyme that converts the testosterone in the body to estrogen. Once men start testosterone replacement therapy, they see an increase in lean muscle mass, which in turn helps control weight gain and breaks the low T-weight gain cycle.
Some men being treated with hormone replacement therapy may see more lean body mass but no increase in strength. Patients who see the most benefit combine testosterone therapy with strength training and exercise.
Increased bone strength
Many people associate osteoporosis and increased fracture risk with older women only, but men who suffer from low testosterone can also experience these issues. Testosterone plays a significant role in bone mineral density. Bone density decreases as men age and testosterone levels drop. This increases the risk of weak bones and osteoporosis. Strong bones help support your muscles and internal organs, which can boost athletic performance.
Hip fractures due to poor bone mineral density are common in men 65 and older because of low testosterone. One of the key health benefits of hormone replacement therapy is that it helps to increase bone mineral density, reducing your risk for fractures and osteoporosis.
In addition to the physical characteristics associated with testosterone, low testosterone levels can also affect mental health. Depression and mood swings are symptoms of low T. Of course, depression or irritability can stem from the other symptoms you may be experiencing. For example, men who are gaining weight or have low libido may get depressed about those changes. Testosterone therapy can help improve your mood but shouldn’t necessarily be a substitute for seeing a mental health professional if needed.
Many men with normal testosterone levels experience a decline in their sex drive to some degree. Those with low T, however, may lose interest in sex. This, in turn, can cause problems in a relationship and leave a man feeling depressed. Low T is also associated with erectile dysfunction, although there are other underlying causes for this condition. An enhanced sex drive is often one of the benefits men enjoy from getting testosterone replacement therapy.
Enhanced recovery time
Men who used to bounce back quickly after strenuous workouts may be surprised when they feel tired or sore for days after going to the gym. Like other low T symptoms, this can create a cycle where you get less exercise, gain weight, and see a further decrease in testosterone levels. Boosting the recovery process is a less well-known benefit of testosterone therapy, but it’s one patients appreciate.
Normal testosterone levels have a strong correlation with cognitive skills, such as memory and mathematical reasoning. Testosterone therapy can also improve a man’s spatial memory. Some research shows that men with higher ratios of total testosterone have a lower risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
How Are Testosterone Levels Increased?
There are various ways to administer testosterone for patients who choose hormone replacement therapy. These include:
- Pellets: Implanted just below the skin’s surface, usually in the area of the hips or buttocks, pellets slowly release testosterone and are replaced every 3 to 6 months.
- Injections: Injected customized formulations increase testosterone levels more rapidly than pellets, but treatments need to be repeated more often.
- Gels or creams: Topical gels applied daily to the skin are another vehicle for testosterone replacement therapy. It’s important that patients wash their hands after spreading the gel and keep the treated area covered to prevent exposing other people or pets to testosterone.
There are benefits and limitations for each method, and patients can choose the treatment that works best for them.
Do You Have Symptoms of Low T?
If your quality of life isn’t what you want it to be and you believe low testosterone levels may be the reason, we can help. Request a consultation with a hormone specialist by using the online form or by calling us at (225) 230-4201 (Baton Rouge) or (504) 252-9579 (Metairie).