Testosterone is a male sex hormone secreted mainly by the testes. This hormone contributes to sperm production and is in charge of regulation of the male sex drive. It also helps in the formation of muscle and bone tissue, as well as being involved in concentration, memory and moods.
Testosterone production usually decreases with age. According to the FDA (the USA Food and Drug Administration), a normal range is considered to be between 300 – 1000 ng/dl.
Men with low testosterone, or at the lower limit, may have levels that are insufficient for sperm production, a problem that is directly related to fertility.
In this article we will look at some of the symptoms that can indicate that testosterone levels could be lower than they should be.
1. REDUCED SEXUAL DESIRE
Testosterone plays an important role in libido (sexual desire). As we age, some men experience a decrease in their sexual desire. However, someone with low testosterone levels may notice a more drastic reduction in their libido.
2. DiFFICULTY IN MAINTAINING A ERRECTION
Nitric oxide is a molecule that helps to activate a variety of chemical reactions so that an erection occurs. Testosterone helps to stimulate receptors to produce this nitric oxide. If a man has very low levels of testosterone he can experience difficulties in achieving or maintaining an erection.
3. LOW SPERM COUNT
Testosterone has an important part in sperm production. Men with low testosterone levels are usually found to have a reduction in the number of sperm found in the ejaculate.
Patients with low testosterone levels usually present with extreme levels of tiredness on a daily basis, which in turn affects their daily routines, sports, sexual life and so on. It can also affect personality and humor, resulting in symptoms that are frequently confused with depression.
5. LOSS OF MUSCLE MASS
As we have mentioned previously, testosterone promotes muscle formation in the body. Some men note a significant loss in muscle mass when they have problems related to testosterone levels.
6. FREQUENT HAIR LOSS
Hair growth is one of the most common characteristics of the hormone testosterone. As such, when testosterone is reduced, recurrent head, body and facial hair loss can be experienced.
LOW TESTOSTERONE LEVELS AND FERTILITY
A reduced number of sperm in the semen can mean problems with fertility. A low sperm count is considered to be less than 15 million sperm per ml, which is known as oligospermia. In some cases there are no sperm present in the semen. The total absence of sperm is known as azoospermia.
Thanks to the techniques of sperm retrieval used in assisted reproduction clinics, the best sperm can be selected to achieve fertilization (IVF-ICSI) in the laboratory in an effective manner.
Another treatment for patients with poor sperm quality is IVF using donor sperm, which can also be done along with the use of donor eggs for double donor IVF.
TREATMENTS FOR TESTOSTERONE DEFICIENCY
Testosterone deficiency can be treated, but a consultation with an andrologist is also required to rule out any possibility of pathologies that are incompatible with administration of testosterone medications. Testosterone supplementation can be achieved using topical creams, transdermal (skin) patches, intramuscular injections or an implant of pellets containing microcapsules of testosterone; the most recommended treatment as they provide adequate testosterone levels for 6 months.