Testosterone Replacement Therapy-A little Dab Will Do Ya

A man’s sex drive or libido is thought to be connected to the level of testosterone, the hormone produced in the testicles which circulates in his bloodstream. Low testosterone, also known as hypogonadism, affects approximately four to five million American men. The condition is also linked with diminished interest in sex, impotence, reduced muscle mass, decreased bone density and lowered mood and energy levels.

Who needs testosterone?

Though the body’s own production of this hormone trails off gradually in men after the age of 30 or so, not many men seek testosterone-replacement therapy or even get their testosterone levels tested.   If a man is experiencing a decrease in his libido or sex drive, complains of lethargy or tiredness, he should see his doctor and obtain a simple blood test to determine if he is deficient in this important hormone.

In the past the only treatment to replace the testosterone was injections of the hormone every two weeks or applying testosterone patches to the scrotum or other areas of the body.  The injections were occasionally painful and the patches often caused skin irritation.

Now testosterone is available as a gel or paste (AndroGel, Teststim) applied to the skin of the shoulders, upper arms or abdomen once a day.  The gel is clear, colorless topical gel that men apply once daily to the shoulders, upper arms and/or abdomen. The gel dries within a few minutes, during which time the skin absorbs the testosterone. The skin serves as a reservoir for the hormone, which slowly enters the bloodstream. Normal testosterone levels are restored soon after application.  The testosterone gel will be available with a prescription in pharmacies throughout the United States by the end of the summer.

In studies conducted on hundreds of men who are testosterone deficient, the gel quickly raised circulating testosterone to desirable levels, and maintained it within normal range. The gel also increased sex drive, bone mineral density, and lean body mass and improved mood and energy levels.

At the present time the gel is not indicated for use in women and has not been evaluated in women. Pregnant women should avoid skin contact with the area on men where the gel has been applied as the testosterone in a pregnant woman can cause harm to the fetus.  The testosterone gel is not recommended in young men to improve athletic performance.   Testosterone is contraindicated for men who have prostate cancer that is spread beyond the prostate gland.  For some men with localized prostate cancer who have symptoms of low testosterone, a low serum testosterone level, and a PSA that is at very low levels, they may receive testosterone if they are monitored closely with PSA testing.  (See my blog “Testosterone Treatment in Men With Prostate Cancer-The Controversy”)

The next step.  If you are experiencing a decrease in your sex drive, feel lethargic, or have less energy, you may have a decrease in your testosterone level.  Contact your physician and request a testosterone blood level.  If it is decreased, the solution is just a dab of gel away.

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