Testosterone is produced by the testes and is key to driving male sexual behavior. Although testosterone is a sex hormone, it plays many crucial roles in the body. It is responsible for regulating a man’s sex drive (libido), bone and muscle mass, fat distribution and the production of red blood cells and sperm. The body begins to produce testosterone as early as seven weeks after conception, with levels reaching their peak at puberty. As men age, levels of testosterone start to drop and this affects individuals in different ways.
When Age Becomes The Deciding Factor
After the age of 30, the body decreases its testosterone production. This decrease, however, is very gradual and its effects can only be felt around the age of 50. Common signs of testosterone decline include fatigue, decreased libido and problem having erections. While these effects can be most nerve-wracking, they are relatively common. Talk to your doctor at this stage, who will examine your condition and accordingly prescribe medicines or advise lifestyle changes.
The problem arises when these effects are seen at or below the age of 40. Low levels of testosterone at a younger age usually point to an underlying medical condition and warrant deeper investigation. It important that men consult a qualified doctor or men’s health specialist at the earliest, who will determine the underlying cause and how best to treat it. Some reasons for low testosterone production include underactive testes, undescended testicles, physical injury to the testicles, pituitary disorders or inherited conditions such as Klinefelter’s syndrome.
Know Your Treatment Options
Once a case of low testosterone is confirmed, patients are advised a mix of lifestyle changes (such as increased physical activity, healthy diet), counselling and medication (orals or injectables). The choice of treatment is made depending on the patient’s medical history, levels of testosterone, age and physical condition. Testosterone replacement therapy is another effective treatment option and helps restore the body’s declining testosterone levels. However, it must be taken under supervision since excessive testosterone is also harmful. If problems such as erectile dysfunction persist and hamper the patient’s relationship and quality of life, doctors may recommend other therapies to help restore erections.
Testosterone Boosting Supplements: Good Or Bad?
In the quest for ‘physical fitness’ and ‘bodybuilding’, a growing number of young men in their 20s and 30s try to boost their testosterone levels through external testosterone supplementation. This includes natural supplements and synthetic supplements (anabolic steroids). However, use of these supplements (test boosters and AAS) can have damaging and irreversible effects on the body in the long term, such as a reduction in sperm count (even zero counts!), excess fluid retention, enlargement of the prostate and an increase in red blood cells.
My advice to everyone reading this piece is this: Protect your sexual health. If you observe changes in your sexual response or experience any difficulty being intimate with your partner, talk to a qualified doctor at the earliest. If low testosterone is to blame, your doctor will discuss suitable treatment options and guide you in making an informed choice. Do not resort to testosterone supplementation on your own, as this may do you more harm than good in the long run.
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1) NIH. Understanding How Testosterone Affects Men. Testosterone Therapy Vs Testosterone Supplements. Available at https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/understanding-how-testosterone-affects-men
2) USRF. History of Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT). Testosterone Therapy Vs Testosterone Supplements. Available at https://www.usrf.org/news/TRT/history.html
3) Healthline Newsletter. The Effects of Testosterone on the Body. Testosterone Therapy Vs Testosterone Supplements. Available at https://www.healthline.com/health/low-testosterone/effects-on-body#1
4) American Urological Association. Testosterone for Erection Problems. Testosterone Therapy Vs Testosterone Supplements. Available at http://www.choosingwisely.org/patient-resources/testosterone-for-erection-problems/