Testosterone has many effects on a man’s body. It’s what gives men their characteristic deep voices, larger muscles, and facial and body hair. It also is what stimulates the genital growth at puberty, plays a role in sperm production, fuels libido and contributes to normal erections. Testosterone can also do more internal good, including increasing the production of red blood cells, boosting your mood, and aiding cognition.
Over time testosterone becomes less effective and testosterone levels start to fall beginning in the 40s. Men getting into their 50s, 60s and beyond can start to have signs and symptoms of low testosterone, or low T, such as lower sex drive and sense of vitality, erectile dysfunction, decreased energy, reduced muscle mass and bone density, and anemia. Taken together, these signs and symptoms are often called hypogonadism (“hypo” meaning low functioning and “gonadism” referring to the testicles).
Researchers estimate that the condition affects anywhere from two to six million men in the United States. Yet it is an under diagnosed problem, with only about 5% of those affected receiving treatment.
Philadelphia Testosterone Replacement Therapy
Studies have shown that testosterone replacement therapy may offer a wide range of benefits for men with hypogonadism, including improved libido, mood, cognition, muscle mass, bone density, and red blood cell production.
The Endocrine Society recommends testosterone therapy for men who have both:
- Low levels of testosterone in the blood (less than 300 ng/dl)
- Symptoms of low testosterone
They also do not recommend therapy for men who have:
- Prostate or breast cancer
- A nodule on the prostate that can be felt during a DRE
- A PSA greater than 3 ng/ml without further evaluation
- A hematocrit greater than 50% or thick, viscous blood
- Untreated obstructive sleep apnea
- Severe lower urinary tract symptoms
- Class III or IV heart failure
The goal of testosterone replacement therapy is to restore T levels to normal and improve the symptoms associated with Low T. Once levels are in the normal range men will experience improved sex drive, better erectile function (and, in a significant number of men, complete resolution of ED), higher energy levels, improved sleep and increased muscle mass with a decrease in body fat. Note that T replacement does not take the place of diet and exercise for weight loss and good cardiovascular health.
Types of Testosterone Replacement Therapy
There are a few options when it comes to treating low T. The most common products available for T replacement are topical gels applied daily or weekly injections, which can be self-administered. Both are acceptable treatments, so it is up to the patient to decide which suits his lifestyle the best. It is important to also note that there are no oral testosterone preparations, so any advertised OTC products cannot reliably increase T levels enough to have a beneficial effect.
Once determined that your testosterone levels are low, the physicians at Philadelphia Urology Associates can work with you to find the low T treatment that works best for you.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our Philadelphia urologists, call Philadelphia Urology Associates at (215) 563-1199 or contact us online.