Testosterone is essential to the feeling of well-being for men. It gives them their motivation, spark for life, and makes them feel more confident. And it obviously has important implications for normal sexual function as well.
Hormone Replacement for Men
Normal doses do not cause “roid rage” as many people fear. In fact, men with normal levels of Testosterone are often calmer, more patient and less irritable than men with low values.
As with any hormone, it is important to get the level “just right” because too little will not work, and too much can cause negative side-effects.
Andropause, or “male menopause,” is the gradual decline in male hormones with age, and Andropause has been called a fatal disease. Drops in Testosterone levels can begin in men after the age of about 35, and may become pronounced in many men by the age of 45-50. Factors that can cause low Testosterone levels at an earlier age include a history of head trauma, or the use of anabolic steroids in the past. While Testosterone drops, estrogen is often rising, and many other hormones may also be declining. Optimal levels of Testosterone are usually what would be expected for a man in his 30’s. Before doing Testosterone replacement therapy, it is essential to assess baseline levels. Only men who are deficient in Testosterone or have sub-optimal levels will be treated at Optimal Health Spectrums.
Symptoms that may indicate a need for replacing Testosterone include:
1. Do you have trouble achieving and/or sustaining an erection?
2. Do you have low libido or sex drive?
3. Do you have symptoms of depression, anxiety, or irritability?
4. Have you lost your zest for life, even when nothing is wrong?
5. Do you often feel weak or tired even though you have had enough rest?
6. Have you noticed a loss of body hair on your legs, arms, or face?
7. Do you have a loss of muscular strength, muscle mass or tone?
8. Have you gained weight despite eating or exercising the same amount?
9. Do you sometimes have trouble focusing or remembering things?
10. Do you sometimes feel disoriented or have foggy thinking?.
Numerous research articles support the conclusion that Testosterone is good for a man’s overall health. Testosterone helps prevent muscle loss with age, and decreases body fat. It helps prevent diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Testosterone helps prevent anemia, and keeps bones strong – men on Testosterone replacement have fewer bone fractures and fewer deaths from cardiovascular causes. Every muscle cell in the body has a Testosterone receptor on it, and the most important muscle in the body is the heart. Testosterone is good for the heart. Testosterone replacement decreases inflammation by decreasing inflammatory cytokines. Researchers have noted muscle gain, a slowdown in bone loss, increased sexual desire, and better cognitive skills on Testosterone, and it has been shown to help prevent Alzheimer’s, protect cerebral blood flow, and decrease angina.
Studies have shown that men with low Testosterone can become frail, lose muscle mass and suffer bone fractures due to osteoporosis. Researchers also have shown that men who are Testosterone deficient are more likely to experience depression and reduced quality-of-life than men who have adequate amounts of the hormone.
Other signs of low Testosterone in men may include decreased sex drive, weak penile erections, complete erectile dysfunction (ED), lowered sperm count and reduced fertility, and increased breast size. Men also may have symptoms similar to those seen during menopause in women – including hot flashes.
Low Testosterone levels can also cause nervousness, irritability, inability to concentrate, low mood, insomnia, depression, antisocial tendencies, crying spells, suicidal tendencies, weakness, fatigue, muscle pains, muscle loss, weight loss, constipation, decreased urinary force, urinary frequency and hesitancy, infertility, loss of vitality, prostatic disease, vascular disease, and inflammatory and neurological diseases. Decreased Testosterone levels are associated with increased cholesterol and triglycerides leading to increased arterial plaque and coronary vasoconstriction which can cause rising blood pressure and cause heart disease. Low Testosterone can increase insulin output, which leads to obesity and diabetes, and increased abdominal fat. Low Testosterone can cause increased estrogen levels and increased lipoprotein A and fibrinogen, which can cause blood clots. Decreased Testosterone can lead to decreased HGH output and decreased energy and strength, leading to decreased physical activity and obesity, which also raises estrogen – the vicious cycle of male menopause.
Many men and even some old-school uninformed doctors fear that Testosterone replacement will increase the risk of prostate cancer. This is an unfounded fear. Many new studies have shown this not to be true, but old ideas die hard. There is no evidence to suggest that Testosterone supplementation causes prostate cancer. In fact, studies show a higher incidence of prostate cancer in men with lower levels of Testosterone. However, it does appear that there is an association of high estrogen levels in men and prostate cancer. Have you ever heard of a teen-age male (with the highest Testosterone levels of their whole life) having prostate cancer? Studies have shown that men with the highest levels of Testosterone had no increased risk of prostate cancer and are not more prone to urination problems caused by benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). However, a pre- treatment screen for prostate cancer is helpful, with a digital (finger) rectal exam of the prostate by a qualified practitioner, and a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test. If there is a problem with urine flow, a urology consult is important. Some studies do suggest that in the presence of pre-existing prostate cancer, Testosterone supplementation may accelerate tumor growth, but this is usually only in men who have very low Testosterone levels to begin with. In Europe and increasingly in this country, men with prostate cancer are being treated with Testosterone. Testosterone replacement also often lowers the PSA, so this is an unresolved issue.
There are many important hormones in our bodies, and if we are deficient in even one of them, we will not be optimally healthy. It is important to test for, and treat, all hormone deficiencies in order to feel our best. Chronic illness and stress decreases production and utilization of our hormones, environmental chemicals interfere with hormones, and medications, excess alcohol, and lack of sleep can all affect hormone balance.
Thyroid (T3 and T4), Cortisol, Progesterone, Testosterone, DHEA, Pregnenolone, Human Growth Hormone, and Melatonin are hormones that are often low in men. Hormone therapy is important because most hormones decline with age, and replacing them to youthful levels is the cornerstone of anti-aging and preventive medicine.
Even if a hormone is still technically within the normal reference range, the level may not be optimal for you. Hormone replacement is not a “one size fits all” treatment – every person is different in the doses that they will need to feel right. What we want is optimal levels. Your hormone levels will be assessed at your current baseline, and then a starting dose will be prescribed. The best indicator of whether or not the dose is correct is how you feel on it. The patient and doctor will need to work together to figure out the optimal levels for every person. The follow-up labs are not the best indicator of whether or not the dose is optimal for you, however doses will always be given to maintain physiologic levels in your body. Too much of a hormone is bad for you, just as too little is. It is very important not to take more than the recommended amount. Also we will only recommend bioidentical hormones – the ones that nature intended to be in our bodies. Some call the balancing of all of the hormones a “symphony” – feeling good.
Overall, men who are low in T and get their levels replaced to what is optimal for them, are usually very happy with how good they feel.