- Men's Health & Wellness
When Men Need Testosterone Replacement
Happy Older Couple
Hormone replacement for men, specifically testosterone, is becoming much more common. I am not taking about hormones, such as anabolic steroids or deer antler, but the actual testosterone that is being prescribed by physicians for those men who have a low testosterone level.
For a period of time doctors were prescribing testosterone, but more recently new test have made this questionable. New studies are underway, so at this point there is no solid evidence that injecting testosterone even for those that have a low blood level is the best course of action.
What is a Hormone?
A hormone is actually a chemical substance produced by the body to regulate or stimulate specific cells. They are formed in an organ of the body and carried by the blood to another organ. Testosterone in men starts to decline at about age 40.
Testosterone is produced primarily in the testicles and its purpose is to maintain bone density, fat distribution, red blood cell production, muscle strength and mass, sex drive and sperm production. Hormone levels can be checked with a simple blood test ordered by your family physician.
Why the Sudden Interest in Testosterone?
As baby boomers age they want to retain all the energy and vitality they had when they were younger. Baby boomers are living longer with a life expectancy of 78, up from 69 a half century ago. If they were active in sports, you probably do not want to lose that edge. They also want to remain sexually active. There are some specific symptoms of low testosterone levels (Low T), although some of these symptoms are part of normal aging.
What is Low T?
The symptoms of low T are:
- More fatigue, especially in the evenings or sometimes insomnia
- A decreased libido
- Reduced muscle strength and bulk
- Swollen or tender breasts
- Hair loss
- Bladder problems
- Decreased bone density
- Weight gain
- Hot flashes (and you thought they were only for women)
- Emotional changes may occur, causing sadness or depression
There is also a disease called hypogonadism, which causes the body to be unable to produce normal amounts of testosterone. Doctors will prescribe injections, pellets, patches or gels for this disorder. Patients with diabetes have a greater risk of having Low T.
Testosterone Possible Side Effects
Testosterone is well tolerated unless you have a complete allergic reaction and like any drug that might involve hives, breathing problems, which require immediate medical attention. This is rare. Other possible side effects include acne, bitter or strange taste in your mouth, hair loss, headache, gum or mouth irritation or a change in your sex drive. Again, these side effects are rare.
A doctor will monitor your blood levels when you are taking testosterone, so adjustments will be made to keep you in that healthy range. Most people tolerate testosterone very well when ordered by a physician. I know of someone who is receiving the injections and their level blood level went too high but they had no ill effects. The dosage was just changed to get them into that healthy range.
What is the Low T?
If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms, it is time to see your doctor. A simple blood test will reveal your exact testosterone level. A normal testosterone level is 300 ng/dl to 1000 ng/dl. Prescriptions for testosterone have increased almost 90 percent over the past 5 years, which means global sales have reached $1.9 billion annually. Basically, people want to live longer and remain active. If you do have low testosterone there are several course of treatment available.
There is a big marketing push by several drug companies for men to use their products. Abbott Laboratories has a webpage that advertises Androgel. They have prescription patches, gels and injections. Some physicians state that testosterone therapy can reverse aging but that has not been proven in any clinical trials.
Eli Lilly is another pharmaceutical company that has increased their advertising more than 170 percent over the last three years. Testosterone has become “big business” as the Baby Boomers age.
Testosterone Injection Video
As more baby boomers age, the demand for testosterone will probably increase. If you have a low testosterone level, let your doctor prescribe the right dosage for you. Stay away from some of the other products you can purchase on the web as a testosterone level that is too high has its own set of side effects.
© 2012 Pamela Oglesby