Testosterone Levels and Treatment

Men’s testosterone levels naturally begin to decline as they age. This lowering of testosterone levels in the body can lead to a number of disturbing symptoms that may cause men to seek medical help. Physicians can now prescribe testosterone replacement therapy to reduce these symptoms. However, using these products accompany a number of risks for serious side effects.

Symptoms of Low Testosterone

As testosterone levels decline, men may experience fatigue, loss of muscle mass, depression, erectile dysfunction, low sperm count, and increased breast size. Men with these symptoms can see their doctors for a blood test that can determine their testosterone levels. The National Institutes on Health considers testosterone levels between 300 and 1,200 nanograms per deciliter within the normal range for men. Because testosterone levels fluctuate during the day, physicians will generally test for testosterone levels in the morning when they are the highest.

Treatments For Low Testosterone

A variety of treatments are available for low testosterone levels in men. The physician will first perform a complete physical examination to determine whether other health problems may be contributing to the hormonal problem. In some cases, lifestyle changes such as changes in diet and more exercise can help to restore testosterone levels to normal range. When these measures are ineffective, physicians may prescribe testosterone hormone therapy to increase the amount of the hormone in the body.

Testosterone Replacement Therapy

Pharmaceutical manufacturers have developed a number of products for the treatment of low testosterone hormone levels. These products come in the form of injectable transdermal application or implantable pellets. These products can be helpful for treating loss of muscle mass, depression, and sexual dysfunction. However, testosterone replacement therapy has recently come into question because of higher rates of heart attack, stroke, and resulting death in men who have undergone the therapy. In additions, many studies show that men taking the therapy do not have documented low testosterone levels. Many medical researchers feel that testosterone products are being prescribed as a “cure-all” for many of the normal signs of aging in men.

Risks of Testosterone Replacement Products

Given the rise in medical conditions attributed to the use of testosterone replacement products, the FDA has announced its intention to investigate the increased risk for heart disease and stroke in those using testosterone therapy. Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has only approved testosterone therapy for men with hypogonadism, a condition in which the testicles do not produce sufficient testosterone. They have not approved it for decreased testosterone related to aging, even though it is being heavily marketed for this purpose. Until a final determination is reached, the Endocrine Society has recommended that men with pre-existing heart disease or vascular problems avoid the use of testosterone products.