Androgen deficiency is characterized by low levels of testosterone in the body. Most obviously, this condition comes with sexual side effects: low sex drive; weaker orgasm; reduced semen volume; poor erections. But sexual health isn’t the only area of health impacted by low levels of testosterone. Androgen deficiency can also lead to diminished muscle mass and strength, lower self-esteem, lack of motivation, depression, tiredness and low energy levels. The condition also shares several symptoms with menopause in women, such as hot flashes, nervousness and irritability.
Some of the more serious health problems associated with androgen deficiency are those linked with chronic health conditions. Low levels of testosterone have been associated with increased abdominal obesity, reduced levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and greater body fat overall. These various symptoms can contribute to the development of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Androgen deficiency has also been linked to osteoporosis.
One study into 1,585 men on opioid medications sought to determine the prevalence of testosterone deficiency among participants. The researchers divided participants according to whether they took long-acting or short-acting opioids. Long-acting opioids are generally less habit-forming than short-acting ones, meaning they are preferred for the treatment of chronic pain since addiction is less likely.
Researchers found that the incidence of testosterone deficiency was notable among both groups – 35% among short-acting opioid users and 57% among long-acting opioid users. While short-acting opioid users were less likely to be testosterone-deficient, researchers found that the amount of deficiency correlated with the dosage of the drugs taken more in this group than in the other.
See more on this study at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
Testosterone deficiency is one of many concerns associated with opioid medication use, particularly for men taking high doses of short-acting medications or any dosage of the long-acting form. It is but one more reason for patients to seek out alternative methods of chronic pain management including acupuncture, exercise therapy, massage, cognitive behavioral therapy and relaxation techniques.
Learn more about androgen deficiency, including diagnosis and treatment methods, at my.clevelandclinic.org.