What is testosterone?
Testosterone is a vitally important hormone for men from conception to very last days of life. In addition to maintaining muscle mass and energy, testosterone plays a central role in maintaining sex drive, maximizing erectile function, and stabilizing bone density.
What is Andropause?
Andropause (also known as low testosterone or Low T) is the term given to lowered testosterone levels that some men experience as they age.
Andropause can begin to affect men in their mid-thirties and is estimated to affect more than 25 million men in the United States. Despite its frequency, however, less than 10% of symptomatic med seek or receive treatment. Andropause can have a slow onset and most men believe that its symptoms are a normal part of aging.
- The most common symptoms of low testosterone include:
- Decreased sexual desire
- Erectile dysfunction
- Decline in energy
- Diminished strength
- Abnormal semen analysis
- Decreased lean muscle mass
- Altered mood
- Hot flashes
Understanding when and how to treat symptoms of low testosterone, or Low T, should involve an experienced and thorough health care provider. Diagnosing and treating andropause is about more than making men ‘feel better’ as they age. It can also have an impact on how long a man lives. Low testosterone has been identified as a contributing factor in cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Early identification of men with low testosterone can lessen the health impacts of these associated diseases. Replacing testosterone in patients with andropause has been shown to improve their overall sense of well-being, improve the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, improve control of blood sugar in diabetics, improve control of cholesterol levels, and improve overall metabolism.
Low Testosterone Evaluation
At NAU, we see patients with low testosterone levels at all ages and for a number of different reasons. In addition to conducting blood tests for absolute testosterone levels, we will also measure a more sensitive form of testosterone called the ‘free-testosterone’ level. There is no known ‘normal’ range that applies to all men and some men benefit from treatment even after being told that their levels were ‘normal’.
Your initial evaluation will also include looking for other problems whose symptoms can mimic those of low testosterone. In addition, a physical exam will look for evidence of testicular or prostate diseases that could impact treatment.
Low Testosterone Treatments
Treatment for testosterone can take several forms that all require close follow-up and should begin with a thorough understanding of possible risks and side effects.
No oral FDA approved testosterone replacement pill is available in the United States
Topical Gels are a common and popular choice for testosterone replacement. This treatment option is typically applied to the skin, normally on the chest, once a day and generally comes in either individual tubes, individual packets, or pumps.
Injection therapy can be a minimally invasive way for testosterone supplementation and can be administered in our office or by self-injection. In fact, weekly self-injection of testosterone can relieve patients of widely varying peak and trough levels of testosterone and will be allowed when appropriate for properly qualified patients. Once prescribed, these injections may be administered in our office, or patients can be taught how to self-inject by one of our providers to begin injections on their own at home.
Some patients may be eligible for implantation of subcutaneous testosterone pellets that only need to be replaced every 6 months making supplementation worry free. The pellets are placed subcutaneously in our office and steadily release hormones into the bloodstream, allowing for a continuous release of testosterone into the body. Patients may begin experiencing improvement in symptoms in as little as a month when utilizing pellet therapy.
If you are interested in getting evaluated for low testosterone and seeing how testosterone therapy may help you, give our office a call to get scheduled with one of our specialists!