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It has been a general tendency to put the blame of reduced libido to decreased levels of testosterone. And with the advent of testosterone replacement therapy, physicians frequently encounter patients who want this therapy to increase their sex drive. But according to experts, although testosterone has a role in sex drive of a man, it is not the only reason behind a low libido.
On the contrary, many a times, it is seen that men experience a reduced sex drive even though their testosterone levels are normal. It has also been seen that even though there is a decline in the levels of testosterone with advancing age, it does not necessarily translate into a low sex drive.
What is testosterone?
Before understanding the role that testosterone plays in affecting the sexual drive of a man, let us understand what exactly testosterone is. It is the hormone produced in the testicles and is responsible for the development of secondary sexual characteristics in a male when he hits puberty. It plays an important role in the maintenance of the bone density, muscle mass and strength, distribution of fat in the body and the production of the red blood cells apart from the well-known role in the production of sperms and maintenance of sexual drive.
The levels of testosterone in a man are the maximum at the time of adolescence and early adulthood. The levels tend to reduce as the man ages. It is believed that it decreases at the rate of 1% every year after the age of 30. Apart from the normal aging process, the levels of testosterone are also reduced in case of any injury to the testicles, genetic abnormalities like Klinefelter’s syndrome, Chemotherapy or radiation therapy for treating some cancer in the body, medicines to treat prostate cancer, corticosteroid medications, inflammatory diseases like sarcoidosis, liver cirrhosis, alcoholism, etc. High stress levels can also take a toll on the testosterone levels in the body.
Symptoms of low testosterone
The main symptoms observed in a man with low testosterone levels in a reduction in his sex drive, problems with erection, depression and reduced power of concentration. There is a loss in the muscle mass and body hair, increase in the fat deposition, signs of osteoporosis, and changes in the levels of hemoglobin, cholesterol and lipids.
The only way to diagnose whether a patient is suffering from low testosterone is by measuring the blood levels of the hormone. Early morning sample is preferred as that is the time when the level of testosterone is at its peak.