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In the same way women use hormones to replace what’s lost in the aging process, a rising number of men are taking testosterone.
“Testosterone is a hormone made in the testicles and when you are young you have high levels and as you age those levels gradually decrease. But it can lead to a lot of symptoms and side effects,” says Dr. James Borden, urologist on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.
Low T is characterized by: weakness, fatigue, depression, weight gain, and bone loss, which can often be reversed with proper supplementation.
“If the testosterone is low, less than 300, if we supplement that testosterone with either gel or injectables, those patients do very, very well,” says Dr. Meir Daller, urologist on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.
The results are so good, doctors worry men who don’t need it are getting on testosterone to boost energy and muscle mass. Over a 10-year period, the number of prescriptions tripled. Used improperly it could be harmful.
“You do have to monitor someone’s blood count to make sure the red blood cell count does not go up. You should monitor someone for prostate cancer. Although testosterone replacement doesn’t cause prostate cancer you want to make sure you don’t stimulate something that was not visible before. It also can cause liver disease,” says Dr. Borden.
The New England Journal of Medicine warns only 2 percent of men over 40 should be treating for Low T. While some young men may experience a loss of hormone, it is uncommon.
“Most men that are in their 20s really don’t need testosterone replacement therapy. Those are not the right patients, I’m talking about older men in their 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s,” says Dr. Daller.
Under the right conditions, doctors can use testosterone to restore what time took away.