Don’t Let “Low T” Lower Your Quality of Life

We all know the natural aging process brings change—changes in the way our bodies look, the way we feel and how we go through our everyday lives. For men this may mean once flat abs have become fleshier. The laser-sharp focus is a little fuzzier. A genial demeanor may be clouded by bouts of depression or grumpiness. And a once robust love life has fizzled. You may think these are inevitable side effects of aging, but they could be signs of hypogonadism—better known as low testosterone or Low T.  

Low T occurs when the testes produce less androgen hormone—specifically testosterone. Experts report that the average man’s testosterone level drops by one percent each year after the age of 30. So by the time a man is 60, his testosterone level may have dropped 30 percent. By age 45, nearly four out of 10 men have low testosterone, so it’s no surprise many men experience symptoms.

“Signs and symptoms of Low T include trouble getting erections, low sex drive, fatigue, loss of muscle mass and body hair, increased body fat, infertility, trouble sleeping, difficulty with focus and concentration, weak bones, mood changes and irritability,” explains Paul Chan, M.D., a board-certified urologist with USMD Men’s Health Center.

Wonder if you have Low T? “A great resource is the ADAM questionnaire—which stands for Androgen Deficiency in the Aging Male,” says Jason Greenfield, also a board-certified urologist with USMD Men’s Health Center. Created by researchers at the University of St. Louis University, this 10-question survey is a basic screening tool that can help you determine if you may be at risk.

 1. Do you have a decrease in libido (sex drive)?

 2. Do you have a lack of energy?

 3. Do you have a decrease in strength and/or endurance?

 4. Have you lost height?

 5. Have you noticed a decreased “enjoyment of life?”

 6. Are you sad and/or grumpy?

 7. Are your erections less strong?

 8. Have you noticed a recent deterioration in your ability to play sports?

 9. Are you falling asleep after dinner?

10. Has there been a recent deterioration in your work performance?

If you answered yes to questions number one and seven, or yes to any three questions, you should see a physician who specializes in men’s health issues for an exam and blood test. “It’s important to have the blood test because Low T can be a warning sign for other health conditions such as cardiovascular or heart disease and type 2 diabetes,” Dr. Greenfield says. “When testing for Low T, it’s also important to take into account that a man’s testosterone level varies over the course of the day. For that reason, it is best to have blood drawn early in the morning.”

While the National Institute of Health reports that “normal” testosterone levels for men fall between 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter, your physician will evaluate what level is best for you based on your age and health. If your level is too low, there’s good news. “There are many ways to treat low testosterone. Sometimes, lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise are a good starting point, but often the most effective way to treat the problem is for testosterone to be replaced directly,” Dr. Greenfield says.

“Today there are many ways we can replace testosterone,” Dr. Chan adds. “Gels and patches which are applied to the skin, shots and injections, and pellets placed under the skin all allow us to deliver a controlled dose of testosterone. Under the supervision of a physician, Medicare and most health insurance companies will cover many of the treatments for Low T.”

For many men, simply getting their testosterone level back in check is often enough to alleviate symptoms, make them feel more invigorated and more like their old selves again. If you are experiencing fatigue, depression, erectile dysfunction and other symptoms of Low T, don’t try to tough it out on your own. Visit one of the experienced board-certified urologists at USMD Men’s Health Center. To schedule an appointment, call the USMD/UANT Men’s Health Center at 817-784-UANT (0818).  

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