Testosterone is a hormone that plays a pivotal role in men’s health. In men, testosterone is believed to regulate sexual function, sexual desire, bone mass, fat distribution, muscle mass and strength, production of red blood cells, production of sperm, mood and cognitive ability.
Testosterone is a naturally produced hormone – 95% of this production is done by the testicles, and it is important for a man’s physical and emotional well-being.
Symptoms of testosterone deficiency can be classed into 4 categories:
Sexual – erectile dysfunction, reduced sexual desire, reduced morning erections….
Cardiometabolic – Increased body mass index (BMI)/obesity, Metabolic syndrome, Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
Physical – Decreased body hair, decreased muscle mass and strength, hot flushes/sweats, sleep disturbances, fatigue, osteoporosis/height loss/low trauma fractures
Psychological – Changes in mood (e.g. anger, irritability, sadness, depression), decreased well-being/poor self-rated health, diminished cognitive function (including impaired concentration, verbal memory and spatial performance)
Some men with testosterone deficiency may have a lot of these symptoms, while others may only have a one or two. None of these symptoms are specific to testosterone deficiency, so it is important to talk to a doctor to make sure that testosterone deficiency is not confused with other medical conditions
The chances of having testosterone deficiency are significantly higher in men who have certain other conditions especially obesity, type 2 diabetes and in those taking long-term opioid medication. The prevalence of testosterone deficiency in all of these conditions is over 50%
At Men’s Health Wales we always recommend diet and lifestyle changes in combination with testosterone therapy when required. There is good evidence to suggest that testosterone levels increase with weight loss however, men need to lose 15-20% of their body weight in order to increase testosterone levels substantially.
Typically a man is diagnosed with testosterone deficiency if he has persistent signs & symptoms of TD and confirmed low testosterone levels. Validated questionnaires are used to record symptoms and when warranted, a blood test should then be performed to establish the testosterone level in the blood. This blood test should ideally be performed in the morning in a fasting state. When the initial blood test is abnormal, a second test is performed a week or so later in order to confirm the diagnosis.
Having testosterone deficiency may lead to a low sperm count, but testosterone therapy (TTh) may also do the same. The relationship between testosterone levels and sperm production is not straight forward. There are alternative treatments to TTh which can boost testosterone levels without impacting on sperm production. If infertility in a man with testosterone deficiency is a concern, seek the advice of the doctors at Men’s Health Wales.
TTh stands for testosterone therapy. This is used to treat testosterone deficiency. The aim of TTh is to return testosterone levels back to normal to improve quality of life. Different types of TTh include gels applied to the skin and injections.
Laboratory Blood Tests may be charged to the patient. These costs can vary depending on the number of tests that are performed to aid a comprehesive diagnosis. A testosterone blood test will cost £41 as per the latest laboratory prices.
If you are issued with a private prescription you will need to pay for your medication(s) at your pharmacy which will usually include a small pharmacy mark-up cost on the NHS price of the medication(s).
Alternatively it may also be possible for us to provide you with a letter to your GP requesting they do the necessary blood tests and/or provide you with an NHS prescription.
All of your options will be discussed with you at your appointment.