Testosterone Therapy--- Is It Right For Me?
Posted By: Dr. Gary Bellman on October 2, 2015
Testosterone, the male hormone, plays a vital role in many body functions, and low testosterone levels can leave men tired, disinterested in intimacy, infertile and with thinning bones, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It's also a fairly common problem in older men. As many as four in 10 men older than 45 have lower than normal levels of testosterone, according to the American Urological Association.
Symptoms that men may experience with low testosterone may include a loss of body hair, small or shrinking testicles, no need for shaving, flushing, sweats and bone loss. Also, there are less specific symptoms, too. Men with low testosterone may also notice a decrease in self-confidence, feeling sad or depressed, problems with sleeping, memory problems, reduction in body mass, and a decrease in work performance-- A simple blood test can measure a man's testosterone levels among other hormones that are also tested that affect overall balance.
Options for testosterone replacement include injections, patches, a gel and implantable pellets called Testopel. Injections are given once every two weeks. The downside to this option is that injections provide a large dose of testosterone in the beginning but it drops fairly quickly; Topical formulations, such as testosterone gel, are put on in the morning and absorbed within 2-6 hours and, if used consistently, provide a steady consistent dose of testosterone. But, men have to remember to do it and, they have to wait while the gel absorbs and dries. Also, it's important not to expose children, pregnant women or women who may become pregnant to the testosterone on the skin because it can alter their hormonal balance; Patches can provide a longer-term steady dose of testosterone, but they may cause irritation; Implantable pellets (Testopel), can provide a steady, long-acting dose of testosterone. They're placed just underneath the skin on your backside during an outpatient office procedure. This option is becoming increasingly popular because it lasts about 3 months and generally is inexpensive considering the overall costs of the above options.
If you wonder whether testosterone therapy might be right for you, talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits.
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