Testosterone replacement therapy side effects
Get information of testosterone replacement therapy side effects and low testosterone symptoms in men. Certain health conditions, medicines, or injury can lead to low testosterone. Testosterone level also naturally drops with age. Low testosterone can affect sex drive, mood, and the body in men.
Decreased total testosterone may be due to:
- Chronic illness
- The pituitary gland does not produce normal amounts of some or all of its hormones
- Problem with areas of the brain that control hormones
- Low thyroid function
- Delayed puberty
- Diseases of the testicles (trauma, cancer, infection, immune)
- Benign tumor of the pituitary cells that produce too much of the hormone prolactin
- Too much body fat (obesity)
- Increased total testosterone level may be due to:
- Resistance to the action of male hormones (androgen resistance)
- Tumor of the ovaries
- Cancer of the testes
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
- Taking medications or drugs that increase testosterone level
Testosterone replacement therapy side effects
Beyond the potential behavioral impact of testosterone supplementation on aggression, there are some long-term physiological consequences of high testosterone.
Among industrial populations, prostate enlargement in aging men is thought to be a universal; if men live long enough they will suffer from benign prostatic hyperplasia. While not malignant like prostate cancer, 90% of all US men in their 80s suffer from prostate enlargement, which can compress the bladder and urethra resulting in difficult, painful, or frequent urination.
The prostate is lined with testosterone receptors, and exposure to testosterone can increase prostate size; the front line treatments for both prostate enlargement and prostate cancer involve medications that reduce circulating testosterone (and other androgens). Indeed studies suggest men with higher levels of testosterone are at higher risk of prostate cancer.
Subsistence populations under energetic constraints with low testosterone levels, like rural peasant farmers, and Bolivian forager-horticulturalists show remarkably low levels of prostate enlargement.
Even among subsistence populations with lower testosterone, there is still an association between testosterone and prostate size- men with higher T than their peers have larger prostate sizes.
What is a “normal” level of testosterone?
Since testosterone is responsive to environmental conditions, what does this mean for “normal” levels of testosterone?
Testosterone levels in the US and other industrial populations are dramatically higher levels than in subsistence populations. For young men the differences are even larger, with studies among Amazonian hunter-gathers and forager-horticulturalists showing levels of testosterone 30-40% lower than age-matched US men.
Lower levels of testosterone are reported in subsistence populations around the world, from Bolivia to the Congo, Paraguay, and Nepal.
In industrial populations, we can hunt and gather 20,000 calories at McDonalds without getting out of our car.
In the US, infections with parasitic intestinal worms are rare and illnesses are quickly treated by medical professionals. For 99% of human history this was not the case; food security was a constant struggle and parasites and pathogens were commonplace.
With low food resources and high parasite load, testosterone is immediately down-regulated so it’s no surprise that nearly every subsistence population examined shows significantly lower levels of testosterone compared to US males. Not only is testosterone significantly lower in younger ages in hunter-gatherers and forager-horticulturalists, but it also appears not to decline as much with age, if at all.
Testosterone levels: Are subsistence populations low testosterone symptoms in men or are industrialized populations high?
It’s not that subsistence populations have low testosterone; instead they have calibrated levels of testosterone to the environment they are experiencing. Free of environmental insults and with nearly unlimited calories available, US males can achieve very high levels of testosterone in their early 20s due to their evolutionarily novel environment.
Post-industrial life has relieved many energetic trade-offs. We have plenty of easy calories to invest in both immune function and high levels of testosterone, clean water largely free of parasites and pathogens, and illnesses are treated rapidly with antibiotics. All of these factors create a situation where US males can achieve high levels of testosterone at young ages, but could simultaneously create their own risks.
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