In the US, millions of men experience decreases in testosterone levels each year, a condition known as hypogonadism. Hypogonadism is a common side effect of advancing age and can be diagnosed with a simple blood test that measures testosterone levels.
All hormone treatments are assessed through appropriate blood work, and monitoring will continue through the program.
Low T Levels Affect Many Everyday Tasks
Testosterone is the male hormone, a type of androgen, that is responsible for the development of such male characteristics as facial hair, the thickening of vocal chords, body musculature, and male sex organs. A lowered testosterone level may be responsible for a number of physical changes, including a lack of energy, fatigue and weakness, lower bone density, reduced muscle mass, depression, an overall diminished sex drive, and possibly impotence.
Fortunately, a variety of treatment options are now available to offset low testosterone levels and to deliver adequate doses of androgens to the male body.
Long Term Success Dependent On Finding The Initial Cause
Before a precise course of treatment can be determined, however, it is important to establish the precise cause for lowered testosterone levels. Drops in testosterone can occur for a variety of reasons, which may require different courses of treatment.
Once underlying causes are determined, proper hormone replacement therapy may begin. Hormone replacement therapy may be given via prescribed intramuscular injections, hormone patches, gels, pills, pellets or oral putty.
Intramuscular hormone injections are typically recommended for younger men with declining testosterone levels and administered every one to two weeks. There are different types of testosterone replacement injections that may be given, including testosterone cypionate and testosterone enanthate. While hormone injections are a relatively cost-efficient treatment alternative, testosterone levels administered with each injection may be somewhat more difficult to control than those originating from other treatment sources. As a result, testosterone levels may peak immediately after the injection and drop to low levels again shortly before the next injection is due.
A prominent treatment for low testosterone levels is the AndroGel that contains approximately 1 percent of testosterone and offsets hormonal drops in men. AndroGel is a colorless medication and can be applied to clean skin without causing discomfort. When applied to men’s arms, shoulders, or abdomen on a regular basis, the testosterone gel delivers calculated doses of testosterone that will restore androgen levels through constant hormone delivery. After application, the gel is typically absorbed into the skin rather quickly and will stay within the bloodstream for up to 24 hours.
Unlike other delivery methods of testosterone treatment, the gel has distinctive advantages and does not pose a threat to internal organs. However, to work effectively, the gel must be applied to the same areas at the same time every day. Testosterone replacement gels are also more expensive, may irritate sensitive skin, and could possibly be passed on to others who come in contact with the treated area.
Low testosterone levels may also be treated with a hormone replacement patch that provides transdermal treatment when applied to the skin of the arms, stomach, or back. The testosterone patch should be left in place for up to 24 hours and works most efficiently when applied to a different bodily area each night. Similarly to the gel, the patch’s most bothersome side effect is possible skin irritation around the area of application.
Men suffering from low testosterone levels may also elect to use tablets or pills for hormone replacement purposes. Testosterone replacement tablets, such as Striant, may be placed against the gums beneath the upper lip for hormonal release. This form of testosterone replacement is effective for up to twelve hours. Disadvantages of oral hormone replacement therapy include unpleasant taste, toothaches, and possible gum irritation.
Male Hormone Replacement Therapy
Regardless of the treatment method chosen, the goal of hormone replacement therapy remains the same, namely to restore natural testosterone levels to a normal range. The precise range depends on a man’s age and resulting symptoms, but typically lies between 300 and 1,000 nanograms per deciliter. Male characteristics negatively affected by drops in testosterone will typically improve once hormone replacement therapy is started.
For most men, testosterone replacement is a safe treatment option with effective results. However, for individuals with certain medical conditions, such as prostate cancer, male breast cancer, or untreated sleep apnea, testosterone replacement therapy may not be a viable treatment option, since it may aggravate some of these conditions.
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