Important information about testosterone therapy.
Is testosterone replacement therapy the Fountain of Youth for men? Women tend to have the more commercialized treatments—lotions, potions, diets, injectables—but our medical literature has had increasing chatter over testosterone topical medication for men. In the November 2015 issue of Sports Medicine Update, the topic of Testosterone Replacement Therapy was reviewed. I wanted to highlight pieces of the article.
In order to combat age-related decrease in male testosterone production, Testosterone prescriptions have doubled as reported in the British literature. Testosterone regulates many functions in men—utilization of fat storage, bone architecture, muscle mass, sex drive and facial/body hair. Here are five informational bullet points about the “T” word.
- Testosterone Replacement Therapy is administered to counter the effects of male hypogonadism or decreased production of testosterone. Typically, it occurs when the pituitary gland or testicles have slowed production of testosterone. It is a hormone that can be artificially dispensed in the form of creams, gels, patches or injections.
- Testosterone in men depletes by 1% per year starting between the ages of 30 and 40. The decrease can occur through either the natural aging process or by diminished function of the pituitary gland or testicles. A blood test diagnoses low testosterone.
- Decreased muscle mass, decreased libido, sleep disturbances, erectile dysfunction and depression are signs of low testosterone. It can reduce sexual desire, sperm production and erectile function. Low testosterone can also cause insomnia. Men might notice increased fat distribution and even tender breasts (gynecomastia).
- The benefits of testosterone replacement therapy are improvements of all of the following: male libido, erectile function, bone density and muscle mass. Seems to be the perfect solution, but…
- The risks of testosterone replacement therapy are increasing chance of prostate cancer, liver function problems, infertility and congestive heart failure. It can also cause sleep apnea, snoring, or obstructive breathing while catching some zzzz’s. Infertility may occur through testicle shrinkage or decreased sperm production.
It is recommended to discuss with your physician when you notice any low testosterone symptoms. Your doctor can give you a better understanding of the risks and benefits of treatment options. In the meantime, we will all keep searching for that illusive Fountain of Youth!
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