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Men’s Health: Testosterone

Grab your mustache wax and let us hit you with some knowledge about men’s health care. Did you know November is Men’s Health Month? Let’s talk testosterone. 

Blood testosterone levels decrease as men age. The decline is usually modest. Many of the changes men experience as they age are attributed to testosterone lowering. Recent evidence suggests that managing low testosterone levels is beneficial. 

Testosterone therapy aids in reversing: 

• Decline in libido and sexual activity 

• Decreased muscle mass 

• Depression 

• Decreased bone mineral density 

• Anemia 

Advanced age, obesity, and chronic disease have been found to lead to low testosterone. 

You might be asking yourself, “Should I be tested? 

Some sources claim everyone should be screened. I would propose that testing is only obligatory for older men with symptoms, especially decreased libido. The initial blood test is best done in the morning. If low, the test may be repeated to compare and confirm. Other hormone levels may be tested along with serum testosterone, to determine WHY the testosterone is low. If other causes are present, these disease states should be treated before testosterone therapy is begun. 

Medical authorities have disagreements over which patients should seek treatment. One compromise is offering testosterone to older men with symptoms and low blood levels would be appropriate. If a man has a prostate nodule, elevated PSA on a blood test, an increased risk of prostate cancer, or a high hematocrit red blood cell reading, extreme care should be exercised. After therapy starts, a blood PSA and hematocrit level should be drawn three to six months later and at least once a year after that. 

Many men who try testosterone do not feel a significant improvement in symptoms. This may be because other factors can be at play. Poor sleep, poor stress management, bad diet, lack of physical conditioning, depression or other psychiatric problems will affect results. 

Bottom line: 

Not every man needs to have a low testosterone evaluation. Not every man with a low blood level of testosterone needs treatment. Not every treated patient will respond favorably. Risks and benefits should be discussed with your Primary Health Partners provider. Discuss with your provider if testosterone supplementation is right for you. Looking at the whole picture instead of focusing on one possible problem is the best way to assure good health and well-being. 

Dr. Troy Cail

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