Do You Need to Pick A Bone With Your Testosterone?

tired man

Commercials hint at it.  Doctor talk their way around it.  You’d rather draw pictures or gesture with your hands than say the words out loud – low testosterone.  It’s far more common than the media (or the men in our lives) would lead us to believe.  About 39% of men over the age of 45 have low testosterone.  Typically characterized by a low libido, low testosterone actually presents itself in a variety of non-sexual ways.  Men with low testosterone may experience depression, loss of muscle mass and unexplained fatigue.

Another unexpected “side effect” of low testosterone is increased abdominal fat.  Call it nature’s one-two punch – that all-important hormone affects things upstairs AND downstairs.  Researchers used to believe that obesity decreased testosterone levels but recent discoveries are proving otherwise.  In fact, there is new evidence suggesting that low testosterone might be a marker for metabolic syndrome.

The dreaded beer belly may not solely originate from too many Football Sundays.  In middle age, men enter “andropause”, or male equivalent of menopause.  Hormones naturally decrease during this stage of life and consequently, men may notice some changes.  Low testosterone can have a significant effect on metabolism, glucose, insulin and fat regulation.  In turn, losing weight is that much harder without adequate testosterone.

Body fat contains an enzyme called aromatase.  This enzyme is responsible for the conversion of testosterone into estrogens.  Too much estrogen triggers the male body to reduce the production of testosterone.  Therein lies the vicious cycle.

Another incentive to get those levels checked is that normal levels of testosterone help to stave off the muscle loss that comes with aging.  Keep hormone levels stable with regular exercise, a healthy weight, regular sleep and good nutrition.  Healthy habits aside, doctors can monitor testosterone levels via blood tests.

Low testosterone IS treatable.  Men are seeing success with testosterone therapy in the form of transdermal patches, gels, injections or pellets implanted sub-dermally.  Testosterone therapy is not currently available as an oral supplement because it can cause liver damage.  The methods previously described deliver the hormone while also bypassing the liver.

However, there are risks involved with testosterone therapy.  Patients may experience prostate growth, local skin reactions, testicle shrinkage and a higher than normal production of red blood cells (which increases the risk for heart attacks).

Talk with your doctor to determine if you are an appropriate candidate for testosterone therapy.

Low T Primer

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