How Low Testosterone Affects Health, Mood, and Sex
Low Testosterone and Sex Drive
Testosterone isn't the only fuel for a man's sex drive and performance. But low testosterone can reduce your ability to have satisfying sex. Lack of sex drive and erectile dysfunction are sexual problems that can result from low testosterone. If low testosterone is the cause, treating it can help.
Testosterone and the Causes of Low Libido
Researchers haven't unraveled the mystery of just how testosterone increases libido. It's normal for a man's sex drive to slowly decline from its peak in his teens and 20s, but libido varies widely between men. What one man might consider a low sex drive, another might not. Also, sex drive changes within each man over time and is affected by stress, sleep, and opportunities for sex. For these reasons, defining what's a "normal" sex drive is next to impossible. Usually, the man himself identifies a lack of sex drive as a problem. Other times, his partner may consider it to be an issue.
Low testosterone symptoms don't always include feeling like you have no sex drive. Some men maintain sexual desire at relatively low testosterone levels. For other men, libido may lag even with normal testosterone levels. Low testosterone is one of the possible causes of low libido, however. If testosterone is lowered far enough, virtually all men will experience some decline in sex drive.
In a large study of men in Massachusetts, about 11% overall said they had a lack of sex drive. The researchers then tested all the men's testosterone levels. About 28% of men with low testosterone had low libido. These men were relatively young, with an average age of 47; older men might have worse sexual symptoms.
Low testosterone is only one of the causes of low libido. Stress, sleep deprivation, depression, and chronic medical illnesses can also sap a man's sex drive.
Low Testosterone and Erectile Dysfunction
Surprisingly, low testosterone by itself rarely causes erectile dysfunction, or ED. Low testosterone alone -- with no other health problems -- accounts for a small minority of men with erectile dysfunction.
Erection problems are usually caused by atherosclerosis -- hardening of the arteries. If damaged, the tiny blood vessels supplying the penis can no longer dilate to bring in the strong flow needed for a firm erection. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are the three main causes of atherosclerosis and erectile dysfunction.
At the same time, low testosterone is a frequent accomplice to atherosclerosis in creating erectile dysfunction. In studies, as many as one in three men mentioning ED to their doctor have low testosterone. Experts believe that in men with other factors causing erectile dysfunction, low testosterone can strongly contribute, making a difficult situation even worse.
Strengthening the connection, low testosterone is linked in some way with many of the conditions that lead to erectile dysfunction:
- Metabolic syndrome
- Endothelial dysfunction
Although low testosterone isn't known to cause them, the associations between other medical conditions and low testosterone can be significant.
Testosterone therapy improves sex drive and satisfaction with sex in many men. However, the long-term risks and benefits of testosterone replacement are unknown. Research trials on testosterone replacement in men are ongoing, although results are years away.
WebMD Medical Reference
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION FOR AXIRON
What is the most important information I should know about AXIRON?
AXIRON can transfer from your body to others. This can happen if other people come into contact with the area where the AXIRON was applied. Signs of puberty that are not expected (for example, pubic hair) have happened in young children who were accidentally exposed to testosterone through skin to skin contact with men using topical testosterone products like AXIRON. Women and children should avoid contact with the unwashed or unclothed area where AXIRON has been applied. If a woman or child makes contact with the application area, the contact area on the woman or child should be washed well with soap and water right away.
To lower the risk of transfer of AXIRON from your body to others, follow these important instructions:
- Apply AXIRON only to your armpits.
- Wash your hands right away with soap and water after applying AXIRON.
- After the solution has dried, cover the application area with clothing. Keep area covered until you have washed the application area well or have showered.
- If you expect another person to have direct skin-to-skin contact with your armpits, first wash the application area well with soap and water.
Stop using AXIRON and call your healthcare provider right away if you see any signs and symptoms in a child or a woman that may have occurred through accidental exposure to AXIRON. Signs and symptoms in children may include enlarged penis or clitoris; early development of pubic hair; increased erections or sex drive; aggressive behavior. Signs and symptoms in women may include changes in body hair and a large increase in acne.
Who should not use AXIRON?
Do not use AXIRON if you:
- have or might have prostate cancer
- have breast cancer
- are pregnant or may become pregnant or are breast-feeding. AXIRON may harm your unborn or breast-feeding baby.
Women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should avoid contact with the area of skin where AXIRON has been applied.
What should I tell my healthcare provider before using AXIRON?
Before you use AXIRON, tell your healthcare provider if you have:
- breast cancer
- or might have prostate cancer
- urinary problems due to an enlarged prostate
- heart problems
- kidney or liver problems
- problems breathing while you sleep (sleep apnea)
- any other medical conditions
Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Using AXIRON with other medicines can affect each other. Especially, tell your healthcare provider if you take:
- medicines that decrease blood clotting
What are the possible side effects of AXIRON?
AXIRON can cause serious side effects. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:
- If you already have enlargement of your prostate gland, your signs and symptoms can get worse while using AXIRON. This can include: increased urination at night, trouble starting your urine stream, having to pass urine many times during the day, having an urge that you have to go to the bathroom right away, having a urine accident, being unable to pass urine or weak urine flow.
- Possible increased risk of prostate cancer. Your healthcare provider should check for prostate cancer or any other prostate problems before you start and while you use AXIRON.
- In large doses AXIRON may lower your sperm count.
- Swelling of your ankles, feet, or body.
- Enlarged or painful breasts.
- Problems breathing while you sleep (sleep apnea).
- Blood clots in the legs. This can include pain, swelling or redness of your legs.
The most common adverse events include: skin redness or irritation where AXIRON is applied, increased red blood cell count, headache, diarrhea, vomiting, and increase in blood level of Prostate Specific Antigen (a test used to screen for prostate cancer). Other side effects include more erections than are normal for you or erections that last a long time.
AXIRON is flammable until dry. Let AXIRON dry before smoking or going near an open flame.
Axiron is available by prescription only
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
TS CON ISI 10AUG2011
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