Most of us already know what testosterone is. The hormone, found in men more than women, is a key factor in the development of ‘male’ attributes in human beings. Our muscle placement, libido, testicular development, and sexual functions are all influenced by the testosterone coursing through our veins.
There is no set amount of testosterone that you need in order to be a man. In fact, women’s bodies also contain the hormone, although more often than not it is in far smaller amounts. Testosterone levels can change with age, but most men have somewhere around 300 nanograms per deciliter in their blood.
Men typically see the peak in testosterone production during adolescence, with the amount of the hormone in their blood gradually decreasing with age. This is normally absolutely nothing to worry about. In some cases, however, older men can suffer from more extreme low testosterone symptoms.
Symptoms of unusually low testosterone – or hypogonadism – include decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, depression, and weight gain. Because these symptoms are similar to those experienced by women in late middle age, a sudden decrease in testosterone is often called the ‘male menopause’. This is a slightly misleading name. Hormonal changes during female menopause are often far more extreme and happen for a different biological reason.
Nevertheless, hypogonadism is unpleasant and often coincides with a crisis of identity.
For those experiencing hypogonadism, there are treatments available. Testosterone replacement therapy takes the form of gel or injections of the hormone that can be metabolized into the body.
Through a gradual introduction of extra testosterone to the body, the symptoms of ‘male menopause’ can be negated. Be aware that you may find yourself going through what feels like a second puberty when undertaking this treatment – spots and mood swings included!
Although testosterone gel and injections can be purchased on the internet, it is extremely wise to consult a qualified endocrinologist before altering your hormonal makeup in any way.
Reintroducing a healthy level of testosterone to the body can have great effects. Male libido can be revitalized, it can be easier to stay in shape in later life and your identity can be reaffirmed. It is worth noting that hormones are not concrete or ‘set’ markers of identity, but rather a spectrum upon which you sit. Testosterone replacement therapy can help sure up your masculinity and make you feel confident in who you are.
Because hormonal levels are important in the body’s natural regulation of fat and muscle, many men find it easier to work out and lose fat when they have a healthy quantity of testosterone.
For those people with severe hypogonadism, testosterone can allow them to lead healthy sexual lives.
Before any dabbling in hormone replacement, you need to think carefully. It might be the case that you can learn to love a less masculine version of yourself in the golden years of your life. Think about what might make you happiest instead of what might make others like you more.