Remember Karen and Michael from the previous article? Karen, a 52 year old woman during her Well Woman exam revealed to me that her husband, Michael, had changed over the past few years. He gained 20 pounds, starting losing his hair, lost motivation, and seemed disinterested in sex. As stated in the last article, this can really happen to a man and it’s called “low T,” or male menopause.
After much encouragement from Karen, Michael finally made an appointment to have his symptoms evaluated. His urologist asked him is he was experiencing any of the following symptoms that can be associated with low T:
- Low sex drive
- Problems with erections
- Low semen volume
- Hair loss
- Loss of muscle mass
- Loss of Bone Density
- Increased Body Fat
- Mood Changes
How is “Low T” Diagnosed?
Micheal told his urologist that he did in-fact notice all of the above symptoms and was getting really depressed about it. A comprehensive blood panel was done including: a lipid panel, chemistry panel, thyroid panel, as well as a testosterone level.
As I mentioned in the previous article, it is normal for men to have a gradual decrease in testosterone as they age – approximately 10% drop per every decade of life after age 30. Normal testosterone levels range from 300 – 1000 ng/dL. Low T is diagnosed when levels fall below 300 ng/dL. Michael’s testosterone level was 280.
Without Karen’s encouragement and persisitence, Michael may never have gone to see his doctor.
QUICK FACT: 9 OUT OF 10 MEN WITH LOW TESTOSTERONE DO NOT SEEK TREATMENT
Treatment for “Low T”
The most common treatment for low T is testosterone replacement therapy. Just as I treat women experiencing severe menopausal symptoms with hormone replacement therapy, a specialist in men’s health will treat a man’s low T with testosterone therapy.
As with hormone replacement in women, testosterone replacement in men has its risks and benefits.
Some of the risk of testosterone replacement include:
- Enlargement of prostate gland
- Increased risk of prostate cancer
- Increased red blood cells which can lead to blood clots
- Kidney disease
- Heart disease
Though heart disease is said to be increased with testosterone replacement, after closely scrutinizing the research, I found many studies showing quite the opposite – testosterone therapy given to reach natural body levels ( 300 ng/dL to 1000 ng/dL) decreases the risk for heart disease.
Estrogen therapy for a menopausal women decreases her risk for heart disease if started within 10 years of the onset of menopause. The same is true with testosterone therapy and at normal physiologic levels, reduces a man’s risk for heart disease. This is due to estrogen’s anti-inflammatory action in women and testosterone’s effect in men. Inflammation is one of the key factors contributing to plaque formation – also known as atherosclerosis. By decreasing inflammatory markers, less plaque is laid down in the arteries.
Michael’s doctor initially started him on a topical testosterone gel and later switched him to a testosteone pellet. Along with this testosterone replacement therapy, he advised him to start an exercise program, take a meditation class, and follow a healthy diet.
I’m happy to say that after following up with Karen, both she and Michael are doing much better – in all aspects of life – including the bedroom! If your man is suffering from some of the same symptoms as Michael, encourage him to get evaluated by a specialist – it might save your relationship!
In health and happiness,