Is Testosterone Replacement Right for Me?
With the hectic go-go-go lifestyle experienced by most men these days, exhaustion and low sex drive seem like an epidemic which is too often attributed to low testosterone. But is “low T” just part of getting older or a result of a modern lifestyle? Should all men supplement their testosterone levels? There are many misconceptions about low T and testosterone replacement therapy, leading many men to ask: is testosterone replacement right for me?
Testosterone – what it does
In men, testosterone is responsible for secondary sex characteristics (the primary sex characteristics being what you are born with). This includes a deep voice, body hair, your sex drive, increased muscle tone, and the production of sperm. Symptoms associated with low T include:
· Low sex drive and/or erectile dysfunction.
· Fatigue and general lack of energy.
· Hair loss.
While many men these days experience many or all of these symptoms, a simple blood test can determine if your T is low, or if you need to slow down.
Who develops low T?
While it is true that your body will make less testosterone after age 50, getting older does not necessarily mean testosterone levels become low. In fact, the vast majority of older men maintain normal levels of the hormone. However, congenital conditions like Klinefelter syndrome can cause low testosterone levels, as well as missing or injured testicles. Treatment for cancer, including chemotherapy or radiation may also cause low T.
Benefits of hormone replacement therapy
Men with low T who are treated with testosterone replacement will experience relief from the symptoms listed above, if there is not another condition causing the symptoms that is unrelated. The consequences of not treating low T can be serious, for example, men with long-term low testosterone levels are at greater risk for osteoporosis. Low T may also cause cardiac conditions or events as a result of a decrease in red blood cells that are needed to fuel your organs. Depression caused by low T may affect a man’s personal and professional relationships, as well as how he defines himself as a father and husband. Treatment can restore one’s self worth, as well as physical health.
Should you treat low testosterone?
Most men who have clinically low levels of testosterone benefit from hormone replacement therapy, and side effects of taking testosterone through injection or through the skin are rare. Your doctor may recommend injections for short term treatment, a skin cream or gel that you can apply yourself, or sustained release pellets inserted beneath the skin that last 8-12 weeks between treatments.
Men with prostate cancer should consider the risks of testosterone therapy, as it may make prostate cancer worse or cause further enlargement of the prostate. Testosterone therapy is not recommended for men with normal levels of the hormone.
If you suspect you have low T, see your men’s health specialist for a diagnosis. Dr. Richard Natale of Carolina Urology in Concord and Charlotte, North Carolina is a board-certified urologist with experience in the latest leading-edge treatments for men’s health conditions. Call (704) 786-5131 with questions or for an appointment today.