Testosterone Treatment and Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is a health concern that affects many men of all ages, although it does become more common during middle age as testosterone levels begin to drop. According to the Mayo Clinic, low testosterone levels can be due to primary or secondary causes. Also known as male hypogonadism, it is due to insufficient levels of testosterone being produced in the testes. When it is primary in nature, the problem originates in the testicles. When it is secondary, the problem originates in the pituitary gland or the hypothalamus. These vital parts of the brain may fail to send adequate signals to the testes in order to produce testosterone. Low testosterone can be caused by a host of other reasons, including injury, illness, the effects of chemotherapy, liver problems, and obesity. While problems with testosterone are not the leading cause of erectile dysfunction, doctors can correct testosterone levels through testosterone replacement therapy.

How Can a Man Know if He Has Low Testosterone?

Men who are struggling with low testosterone levels will find themselves feeling fatigued at all times, no matter how much rest they get. They tend to be irritable for no reason, easily frustrated by the littlest thing. Depression can be another problem. A lack of interest in the bedroom, diminished sex drive, and erectile dysfunction are common as well. While these are matters of concern, of greater concern are the effects that low testosterone levels can have on the body. According to WebMD, a decrease in testosterone levels can lead to problems with anemia and cholesterol levels. In addition, hair loss and muscle loss are common problems, while body fat increases. Loss of testosterone can truly affect a man’s well-being and emotional state. The only way to truly determine if a man has low testosterone levels is through blood testing. Several samples will need to be taken at different times throughout the day to account for fluctuating levels. If a physician determines that levels have dropped dramatically, testosterone replacement therapy is an option.

Understanding Testosterone Replacement Therapy

Men who opt for testosterone replacement therapy have several options. They can choose an implant, inserted under the skin, to release hormones into the body. Topical alternatives include gel, a material that is applied above the teeth, a testosterone stick that is applied in the same way as deodorant, and a testosterone patch that can be worn on the body. Other options include pills or injections that are required in two or three week intervals. Choosing the best option is a matter of personal preference and the advice of one’s doctor. It is important to understand the benefits and risks that come with each type of testosterone replacement therapy before undergoing treatment.

Dangers of Testosterone Replacement Therapy

According to Harvard Health Publications, testosterone replacement therapy does carry risks that are often overshadowed by the many advantages that are highlighted by those advertising a product. Studies have found a link between testosterone replacement therapy and an increased risk of heart problems and stroke. In addition, there is a concern for men who have had breast or prostate cancer, suggesting that the use of hormone replacement therapy could actually stimulate growth of cancerous cells once again. Even for those men who have not been subjected to cancer previous to treatment, there is the possibility that testosterone replacement therapy could trigger the development of cancer in the prostate gland. While there is no definitive answer, it is recommended that men are carefully screened for any type of cancer, particularly prostate cancer, before beginning hormone replacement therapy.

Sources
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/male-hypogonadism/basics/causes/con-20014235
http://www.webmd.com/erectile-dysfunction/guide/testosterone-replacement-therapy
http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/is-testosterone-replacement-therapy-safe
http://www.webmd.com/erectile-dysfunction/guide/testosterone-replacement-therapy