Wed | Jun 19, 2019

Tackling low testosterone levels in men

Published:Monday | March 25, 2019 | 12:16 AM

Testosterone is said to be that hormone that ‘makes’ the man – at least physically. It’s what sparks the development of sexual characteristics, hair growth during puberty, and many of the other masculine details that identify a man. Given its purpose, what will happen when testosterone levels fall? Dr Elon Thompson is a urologist at the Westminster Medical Centre, who spoke to Flair recently about the growing concern.

“It has developed widespread attention over the last few years, and it’s something that has been around for a very long time. But now, because of the dissemination of more information, people are becoming more aware of it,” he explained.

The expert noted that low testosterone levels in men can be caused by a number of factors. To determine the trigger, an examination of your medical and physical history, which includes injuries, and a blood investigation are usually done. Trauma to the testicles, hormonal disorder, infection, obesity, or even kidney disease are likely to bring on the condition.

“It’s diagnosed through a blood test that measures the total amount of testosterone in your body. If the result shows that it is low, we’ll usually do a confirmatory repeat of the test to make sure that it is the correct result,” Thompson explained.

HOW to TELL WHEN THE LEVELS ARE LOW

It’s common among older men. However, there are cases where younger men under the age of 50 also suffer from the issue.

Ageing naturally reduces the hormone; this starts at 30. Notable changes in the body will help to tell if something is wrong. Symptoms are usually recognised over time if the levels plummet below normal. So you may realise that your sexual performance is not on point, for example, you could experience difficulties with getting an erection, loss of libido, or low semen volume as the hormone is also responsible for producing the fluid.

Fatigue, decreased bone mass, increased body fat, which often leads to gynecomastia (enlarged breast tissue), and loss of muscles are other signals that indicate the phenomenon.

And it affects the psyche, too.

“The psychological component is determined by how severe the symptoms are. It can be very emotionally distressing, especially when men consider the effects it brings in their relationships. Testosterone also helps with your level of concentration, and you have to consider this. And from a general mental-health standpoint it is very depressing,” he explained.

TREATMENT

Replacement through injections and AndroGel, that is applied under the arm are the more popular treatment options in Jamaica. The doctor admits that there are tablets available, however, they are not widespread.

“Also, I advise that you make some behavioural changes first. These can increase the levels, like exercising to reduce anxiety, and if you have any other illnesses, such as diabetes, you need to manage those as well because we don’t want to become compounding factors in what’s already happening to you,” he said.

Unfortunately, the issue cannot be prevented.

Dr Elon Thompson operates at the Westminster Medical Centre at 1 Westminster Road, Kingston. He can be contacted at 876-926-6067.

rocheda.bartley@gleanerjm.com