Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone (though women have small amounts) that regulates many of the body’s functions, including the development of muscle, bone, and fat mass; libido and sexual function; and blood cell production. Testosterone is produced in the testes in men and the ovaries in women, as well as trace amounts in the adrenal gland for both sexes. For men, in particular, an adequate level of testosterone is essential for sexual function, optimal body composition, and other factors, including hair growth and voice tone. Low levels of testosterone are mainly associated with age, as men after 30 usually experience a 1% decline per year in testosterone levels. Levels drop even further in men in their 40s and 50s: resulting in a phenomenon that is commonly referred to as “andropause.” Low testosterone may also be caused by metabolic or thyroid disorders, inflammatory conditions, obesity, or certain prescription medications.
For men, signs and symptoms of low testosterone may include, but are not limited to:
- Low energy or fatigue
- Reduced sex drive
- Erectile disfunction
- Hair loss
- Difficulty sleeping
- Reduction of muscle & bone mass
- Increase in body fat
- Changes in mood
It is estimated that approximately 1 in 50 men experience low testosterone. Conventional treatment for testosterone replacement can include daily topical or oral medications, which are often associated with side effects such as sleep problems, acne or skin irritation, prostate growth, blood clots, and enlarged breasts. A functional medicine approach to increasing levels of testosterone in the body takes a deeper look at whole-person health, including stress, diet, exercise, and other imbalances in the body informed through specialty testing. From there, an individualized plan is developed to support testosterone balance through lifestyle factors, as well as supplementation of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals to support the body in creating more testosterone on its own. In many cases, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) can be utilized to help naturally restore and balance testosterone levels. BHRT provides the body with a plant-derived source of hormones identical in molecular structure to what it produces on its own.
A precision health care approach to addressing low testosterone in men considers the root cause of hormone imbalances and provides a solution for long-term optimal health. If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of low testosterone, schedule a meet and greet with an Essential Health provider to discuss how precision health care may benefit you.