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When a man has low testosterone levels

It is possible that low energy levels, being less goal-driven and feeling fatigue could signal low testosterone levels in men

Some 26 per cent of Singapore males suffer from low testosterone levels, causing testosterone deficiency syndrome. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Max (not his real name), an accountant, was finding it hard to concentrate at work. He also complained of low energy levels. “I found it hard to focus at all and I was a totally different person compared to just a year ago,” he recalls.

The 40-year-old was subsequently diagnosed with testosterone deficiency and sought treatment. “I felt like I had ‘regained’ myself afterwards,” he says.

Like Max, working in a high-stress job, and by the evening, you are too drained to do anything except sleep. To make matters worse, a good night’s rest does not recharge you.

This might not be caused by the demands of your profession. For example, your colleagues in a similar role may go on about their lives after work but it might not be the same for you.

It is possible that low energy levels, being less goal-driven and feeling fatigue or even “brain fog” – the inability to focus – signal low testosterone levels in men, says Dr Benjamin Loh, a general practitioner who focuses on men's health.

He adds: “Other signs of low testosterone can include difficulty in achieving and maintaining an erection, low libido, reduced muscle bulk, feeling depressed or putting on weight more easily.”

Why is testosterone important to men?

While testosterone is produced by both men and women, this hormone is present in higher levels in men, who need it for the normal development of male characteristics, good bone health, maintenance of muscle strength, energy levels and cardiovascular health.

Testosterone peaks in men aged 20 to 30 years old, and decreases naturally with age. Hence, someone in his 60s, 50s or 40s might have lower levels of testosterone than a man in his early 20s.

Other factors that could lower one’s testosterone levels, or T levels, include a sedentary lifestyle, being overweight, not getting enough sleep or the use of steroids and certain medications. Chronic stress, which leads to the production of the hormone cortisol, could lower T levels as well.

What happens if a man’s testosterone is too low?
Some 26 per cent of Singapore males suffer from low testosterone levels, causing testosterone deficiency syndrome. This could lead to usual symptoms like poor libido, erectile dysfunction, lower energy level and fatigue, says Dr Loh.

In addition, he reveals that leaving a testosterone deficiency unchecked could also have an effect on bone health, muscle mass, energy levels, sleep quality and mental acuity. Low levels of testosterone is also linked to health conditions that include diabetes, heart disease, dementia and reduced bone density.

T level self-help

However, for men who have testosterone deficiency but are not keen on treatment, it is possible to boost their levels without medical intervention.

One way is through exercise, as studies have shown that an increase in testosterone levels was observed after six months. In addition, resistance weight training has also been shown to support an increase of testosterone levels.

Another method that might support T levels is the reduction of body fat through a healthy diet and regular exercise. Studies have found that morbidly obese males have lower testosterone levels than men with a healthy weight.

Medical treatment options

Leaving a testosterone deficiency unchecked could also have an effect on bone health, muscle mass, energy levels, sleep quality and mental acuity, says Dr Loh of Dr Ben Medical. PHOTO: DR BEN MEDICAL

Unlike the common cold, testosterone deficiency may remain long-standing, stresses Dr Loh. If testosterone deficiency symptoms are starting to affect one’s quality of life, there are several treatment options available in Singapore. These include oral medications such as testosterone capsules to be taken daily and testosterone injections that are administered once every few months.

There is also a testosterone gel, which is applied to the skin. This treatment offers better absorption and is one of the more stable forms of testosterone replacement. However, one drawback is that the medication can be accidentally transferred to your partner and/or children when in contact, says Dr Loh.

Beyond administering medication, Dr Loh believes in caring for his patients in a holistic manner. During consultations with him, he will also discuss the treatment of other medical conditions that could be contributing to or mimicking the symptoms of low testosterone levels.

Only if deemed necessary, treatment options such as testosterone replacement therapy will be discussed during the consultation.

For more information, visit Dr Ben Medical at www.drbenmedical.sg

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