Hormone Replacement Therapy for Men

Testosterone is the most important sex hormone in the male body. It is responsible for physical changes during puberty, such as facial hair, a deepening of the voice and an increase in muscle mass. Throughout adulthood, testosterone helps maintain sex drive and keeps a man’s muscles and bones healthy. There are an estimated 5 million men in the United States who suffer from hormone deficiency. Low testosterone affects about one in ten men between the ages of 40-60 and more than 2 in 10 in men over age 60.

Testosterone levels slowly decline in men as they age. Starting at age 30, testosterone levels drop by about 10% every decade. In some older men, testosterone levels decline below the normal range, and this may be accompanied by various physical symptoms. The signs and symptoms of testosterone deficiency include: low sex drive, erectile dysfunction (impotence), reduced muscle mass and strength, decreased bone density, difficulty concentrating, depression, and fatigue such as falling asleep in the afternoon or after the evening meal.

The diagnosis of testosterone deficiency is accomplished following a medical history, a physical examination and a blood test. Because testosterone levels peak in the morning, it is suggested to have the blood test early in the day or before noon if possible.

The goal of testosterone replacement therapy is to increase the blood level of testosterone to the normal range. Several therapies are available with different delivery methods.

Testosterone injections are either self-administered or given by a physician at regular intervals, usually every two weeks. Testosterone levels peak about three days after the injection and slowly decline over time. These fluctuations in testosterone levels may be decreased by shortening the time interval between injections.

Testosterone gels are another delivery method. The gel is applied once daily to the upper arms, shoulders or abdomen. The quick drying formula is absorbed by the skin, releasing testosterone into the bloodstream. Men should avoid contact with others until the gel has dried which is usually 10 minutes, and be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after application with soap and water.

The newest testosterone replacement is with pellets, which are inserted under the skin usually in the area of the buttocks. The pellets last 4-6 months and avoid the necessity of daily application of the gels or the biweekly injections.

Testosterone replacement therapy may provide dramatic health benefits for men with decreased hormone levels and symptoms of testosterone deficiency. The potential benefits include increased energy level, increased lean body mass and muscle strength, decreased total body fat, improvement in sex drive and erectile function, and increased bone mineral density which may lead to reduced risk of fracture of the hips and spine.

Bottom Line: Testosterone deficiency is very common in middle age and older men and produces symptoms which impact a man’s health and quality of life. The diagnosis is confirmed with a simple blood test. With proper monitoring, testosterone therapy can be an effective and safe form of treatment. Contact Dr. Zafar at (515) 277-8900 or check our website at www.LakeviewUrology.com