Low T and Me: What You Need to Know
There is a lot of information thrown at new patients when they are diagnosed with testicular cancer. Aside from the emotional toll that a diagnosis can take, there is understanding surgeries, treatments, appointments, and more. Even though it can be a lot to take in, comprehend, and process, there are still things that a lot of oncologists don't discuss about treatment for testicular cancer. One of the more pressing issues a man can end up facing after treatment is low testosterone. Too often, it is not discussed by the doctors, and many men face the challenges that can be presented by "Low T".
First let's start with the basics. Testosterone is a steroid hormone from the androgen group. In men, this hormone is produced in the testes. Testosterone plays a large role in the growth and maturation of the prostate and other male sex organs, the development of mail hair (such as facial and chest hair) as well as sex drive and sexual function. Testosterone levels can also effect body muscle mass, mood, and energy levels.
Low T is the result of a decreased production of testosterone. Low T can often lead to lowered sex drive, loss of muscle mass, weaker or fewer erections, increased fatigue, and depression, among others. There are also many causes of lowered testosterone in men. When it comes to dealing with Low T after treatment for testicular cancer, the cause can often be linked to removal of both testicles, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. The loss of one testicle usually doesn't have a large impact on testosterone as the remaining testicle typically picks up the slack in the production of the hormone.
Why is it important to ask your doctor about testosterone when diagnosed with testicular cancer?
Common side effects of Low T include reduced sexual desire, fewer or weaker erections, increase in body fat, decrease in strength and mass of the muscles, decreased bone density, fatigue, sleep disturbances, mood swings, and depression. It is important to note that you may not always show all of these symptoms, and some could be indicative of more serious health issues. Always consult with your doctor if you have any concerns.
Low bone density can result in fragile bones (easy to break) and osteoperosis. A lengthened period of increased body fat and changes in the metabolism by the body can lead to such ailments at diabetes and heart disease. Prolonged decrease in testosterone levels can lead to other, more serious health problems.
Talking with your urologist or oncologist about concerns for Low T is valuable before you start treatment. In order to accurately measure changes in testosterone, it is important to establish a baseline level to go by. By establishing a baseline level of testosterone and free testosterone will help to better compare the levels after treatment. Knowing the values of these levels prior to treatment can give you a better understanding of the effect that treatment has had, if any.
The good news for those who experience low testosterone is that there are many different treatments available. From roll on gels, to injections, to patches. As soon as a diagnosis of Low T is established, replacement therapies can begin, and you will find yourself feeling more like yourself in no time.
Not everyone will experience issues with Low T following treatment, and problems may not arise immediately afterwards. Know the signs and symptoms, and keep a record if you feel things are not going as they should. You know your body better than anyone, and you are your own best advocate.