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The key to raising low testosterone levels may begin with a “kiss!”

January 4, 2013 in News

Testosterone is a very important hormone, and it gets a lot of press.  It’s often known as the male hormone, and the majority of the hormone in men is produced in the testes.  Testosterone has some important functions in women as well, but recent health research has largely focused on men, and a recent publication has found an extremely promising potential treatment.

Low testosterone levels can have serious health impacts for men.  Recent research has identified links between low testosterone levels in men with obesity and type 2 diabetes.  Up to one third of men with type 2 diabetes also have low testosterone!  Research by a team at the University of Edinburgh demonstrated that low testosterone was associated with insulin resistance, regardless of body weight.

 Probably the most well-known effects of low testosterone are erectile dysfunction and low sex drive, but a lack of testosterone can also cause reduced lean body mass, a depressed mood, and a lack of energy.  Testosterone is also important in maintaining muscle mass, strength, and maintaining bone strength, which can mean that low levels can undermine the steps you are taking to protect your health with exercise.

Usually, low testosterone is treated with gels or injections.  These do work, but sometimes current treatments can cause testosterone to rise too quickly, which can bring on mood changes, acne, and may even interfere with male fertility.

The research team from the University of Edinburgh has recently been investigating new potential treatments for low testosterone, and one of these treatments does indeed begin with “kiss.”  Kisspeptin is a hormone produced by the human body.  It was first identified in the city of Hershey, Pennsylvania, and was named after the Hershey company’s signature product.

The investigators gave kisspeptin to men with both type 2 diabetes and low testosterone over a 12-hour period using an intravenous drip.  The kisspeptin drip stimulated testosterone production in the men studied, and most notably did not result in spikes of testosterone levels beyond the normal, healthy range.

Kisspeptin is exciting, but it does have a long ways to go before medical researchers can produce an effective treatment that has been proven safe.  The study conducted was very small.  Only 5 men, averaging 34 years old and in good health, received the hormone infusions.  The next step for the research team will be a larger study, with a more varied group of male participants.  They are also looking into more convenient ways to deliver the hormone, such as injections under the skin that slowly release into the bloodstream over time.

If you’re concerned that you may have low testosterone levels, the American Diabetes Association has additional information about low testosterone, as well as a questionnaire that can help you look at your own symptoms as you prepare for a conversation with your doctor.  The ADA also recommends visiting “Is It [LowT]?” for signs and symptoms, advice for both men and their partners or spouses, and information on currently available treatment options.

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