Testosterone is an androgen — a “male” hormone — that triggers secondary sex characteristics in boys when they hit puberty. Testosterone gives men their deep voices, hairy chests and faces, erections, and increased muscle mass.
Women have testosterone, too, just not as much of it as men do. Similarly, men also produce estrogen hormones, which give women their secondary sex characteristics, such as breasts and higher voices, but men have less estrogen than women do.
That balance may change with age, though. As men get older, their testosterone levels drop, and that drop often results in a proportional increase in estrogen. About 45% of men over age 45 have testosterone deficiency, also known as low T.
At Enrich Family Practice, our expert nurse practitioners believe you should feel yourself throughout your lifespan. If you’ve lost your zest for life, low T may be the reason. Following are a few of the lesser-known signs of low T levels.
You feel like a grumpy old man
Just as menopause affects women’s moods and may cause angry outbursts or general malaise, the same happens during “andropause.” Even though men remain fertile throughout their lifespan, the drop in T and other hormones affects just about every organ system, including the brain.
You may find yourself flaring in anger more easily. Or, you could have a perpetually irritable (grumpy) mood. Anger can be a sign of depression in men, and low T may be the culprit.
You’re not as sharp as normal
It takes you longer to make decisions, finish work, and solve puzzles. You struggle to remember numbers or faces and may start to forget some of your cherished memories.
Just as T affects your moods by altering the way your brain functions, it can also slow down your processing times. If you’re having difficulty staying on task or remembering important appointments, you could have low T.
Sex has lost its appeal
If the spark has gone out of your long-term relationship, or if you’ve lost interest in romance as a single, it may have nothing to do with your partner or potential partners. Low T decreases your libido, which lessens your interest in sex.
Of course, many factors can contribute to low libido, including past sexual abuse or trauma, depression, and relationship difficulties. But low T may be involved.
Your gym membership isn’t paying off
You’re still hitting the cardio machines and lifting weights. But you’d never know it to look at you. You’ve developed a roll of fat around your middle and maybe even a “spare tire” or “beer belly.”
No matter how much weight you press, your muscles haven’t gained in strength or size. The only thing that’s increasing is the number on your scale, even though you haven’t altered your diet.
Your muscles need T to produce healthy new cells. Without sufficient T, your muscles begin to atrophy. You put on fat, particularly around the middle. That fatty tissue produces estrogen, which leads to more fat and less muscle.
Without sufficient muscle mass, you can’t burn off the calories you eat as energy. You need T to have a fast, efficient metabolism.
You have … breasts?
Another side effect of low T and higher proportions of estrogens is that you may have more fatty tissue in your breast area, a condition called gynecomastia. Even though gynecomastia isn’t dangerous, your breasts could swell and become painful.
If your male breasts are due to low T, raising your T levels again can resolve the issue. Losing weight and gaining muscle by restoring T also improves gynecomastia.
Get your T back
If you have signs of low T or just don’t feel like yourself anymore, we conduct an exam and analyze your blood for hormone levels, including T and thyroid hormones. Depending on your results, we may recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Most men with low T respond well to a pellet form of HRT, which we insert in your hip or arm. Testosterone pellets can last for 3-4 months and sometimes for up to six months.
Low T affects menopausal women, too
When you’re a young, healthy woman at the peak of your reproductive years, your body also produces testosterone. Perimenopause and menopause not only put a damper on estrogen and progesterone production, they dial down T, too. In fact, if you haven’t responded to estrogen replacement, you might look into T replacement to remedy:
- Bone loss
- Brain fog
- Low libido
- Sexual dysfunction
We base our HRT recommendations on a comprehensive physical exam, medical and personal history, and blood work. You may benefit from testosterone in topical or pellet form.
Reclaim your vigor by booking an HRT consultation today. Contact us by phone at 432-200-9052 or use our online form.