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Diagnosing and treating low testosterone | Wear The Gown

There can be serious long-term health consequences.

SAN ANTONIO — When it comes to men and low testosterone, it can be a very tricky topic to talk about. 

Testosterone is a hormone that is important for bone growth. And when it is deficient in men, not only can that mean bone fractures, but also lack of energy, fatigue, and what many men fear, a change in their libido.

"We have patients that have symptoms of testosterone deficiency and we check their blood count and it's low," said Dr. Robert Svatek, who is a urologist with University Health and UT Health San Antonio. 

He says low testosterone or "low-T" can also affect a man's ability to father children. Dr. Svatek said, "Testosterone is related to the ability to conceive. And so men with infertility or a couple of infertility, testosterone deficiency, may be associated with that problem."   

Other symptoms of low-T include loss of body hair, less beard growth, loss of lean muscle mass, feeling very tired all the time, and obesity. Over the long term, it can also lead to serious health problems.

Dr. Svatek told us, "Testosterone deficiency can lead to problems with bone loss, increased risk of fractures, anemia -- so we counsel them on the health effects of normal testosterone."

Some men may develop low-T from damage to testicles by accident, chemotherapy or radiation, pituitary gland disease leading to hormone deficiency, an infection, or an autoimmune disease. 

And it isn't a disease that only affects young men, but also in older men that may have what appears to be anemia. Dr. Svatek added, "Anemia of an unknown explanation in an older male -- that may be something that would prompt testosterone reevaluation, or an older male that has had a worsening of fatigue or decreased energy."

Dr. Svatek also says if you think you have low testosterone, not to use over-the-counter methods of treatment, but to talk to your primary care physician and a urologist so they can do a baseline test and get you on the right track to help correct your symptoms.

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