In male hormone replacement therapy, a man is given testosterone, the hormone responsible for developing the male sex organs and producing male characteristics such as facial hair and muscularity. Male hormone replacement therapy is most often used to correct the symptoms of male hypogonadism, a condition in which a man's body makes very little testosterone.
Male hypogonadism is caused by a man's testes failing to produce normal levels of testosterone. Some men are born with hypogonadism, while others may develop the condition later in life. In adults, it can cause lowered sex drive, infertility, impotence, a loss of body and facial hair, and osteoporosis.
After diagnosing hypogonadism – often by a blood test – a doctor may recommend male hormone replacement therapy to replace the missing testosterone. This can restore sexual function and muscle strength, and prevent bone loss.
The testosterone levels in a man's body naturally begin to lower after age 40. Many doctors do not recommend that healthy, aging men – those without hypogonadism – take testosterone in an effort to increase energy, sex drive and well-being. High doses of testosterone may result in sleeping problems and infertility, and increase the risk of stroke and prostate disorders.
Testosterone can be given in several different forms, including injections, transdermal systems (patches), and gels. Patches release the hormone over a long period of time, and can prevent hormone levels from rising and falling. Such fluctuations can cause variations in energy, mood, and sexual desire.
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