Testosterone Deficiency, Erectile Dysfunction, and Testosterone Replacement Therapy – WebMD
Testosterone is a hormone produced by the testicles and is responsible for the proper development of male sexual characteristics. Testosterone is also important for maintaining muscle bulk, adequate levels of red blood cells, bone growth, a sense of well-being, and sexual function.
Inadequate production of testosterone is not a common cause of erectile dysfunction; however, when ED does occur due to decreased testosterone production, testosterone replacement therapy may improve the problem.
As a man ages, the amount of testosterone in their body naturally gradually declines. This decline starts after age 30 and continues throughout life. Some causes of low testosterone levels are due to:
Without adequate testosterone, a man may lose their sex drive, experience erectile dysfunction, feel depressed, have a decreased sense of well-being, and have difficulty concentrating.
Low testosterone can cause the following physical changes:
The only accurate way to detect the condition is to have your doctor measure the amount of testosterone in your blood. Because testosterone levels fluctuate throughout the day, several measurements will need to be taken to detect a deficiency. Doctors prefer, if possible, to test levels early in the morning, when testosterone levels are highest.
Note: Testosterone should only be used by men who have clinical signs and symptoms AND medically documented low testosterone levels.
Testosterone deficiency can be treated by:
Each of these options provides adequate levels of hormone replacement; however, they all have different advantages and disadvantages. Talk to your doctor to see which approach is right for you.
Men who have prostate cancer or breast cancer should not take testosterone replacement therapy. Nor should men who have severe urinary tract problems, untreated severe sleep apnea or uncontrolled heart failure. All men considering testosterone replacement therapy should undergo a thorough prostate cancer screening -- a rectal exam and PSA test -- prior to starting this therapy.
In general, testosterone replacement therapy is safe. It is associated with some side effects, including:
Laboratory abnormalities that can occur with hormone replacement include:
If you are taking hormone replacement therapy, regular follow-up appointments with your doctor are important.
Like any other medication, directions for administering testosterone should be followed exactly as your doctor orders. If you are unsure or have any questions about testosterone replacement therapy, ask your doctor.
The Hormone Foundation.
News release, FDA.
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