Low testosterone, also known as hypogonadism, affects approximately 40% of men between the ages of 40 and 70 years of age. In fact, close to 500,000 new cases of testosterone deficiency are diagnosed each year in the United States. This is a condition that is not commonly discussed by many men or even by physicians.
Low testosterone can have a significant impact on a man’s quality of life. For example, testosterone deficiency has been associated with decreased sex drive (libido), depression, decreased muscle mass, fatigue, increased fat deposition, decreased concentrating ability and erectile dysfunction. Replacing a man’s testosterone can help improve some and sometimes many of these symptoms.
If a man has symptoms of low testosterone and has a testosterone value less than 300ng/dl, he should consider starting testosterone replacement therapy. The most common way to replace testosterone is with the daily application of testosterone gel, which is applied to the shoulders, upper arms, and abdomen. Other types of testosterone replacement include testosterone injections, oral pills, patches or testosterone pellets placed under the skin. It is important that a man on testosterone replacement therapy has his blood levels monitored regularly and undergoes some annual evaluation by his primary care physician or urologist.