Archive for the ‘Low T’ Category

Non-Medical Solutions to Raising Your Low T Level

March 23, 2017

I am often asked by patients what can a man do to raise his testosterone level without taking testosterone replacement therapy?  Here are a few suggestions that may be helpful.

  1. Exercise and lift weights

If you want to increase your testosterone levels, you will need to increase your exercise frequency. Regular exercise will not only help you by preventing different lifestyle related health problems, but it will also help you by boosting your testosterone levels. Men who regularly exercise have a higher testosterone levels. Even elderly men will also have higher testosterone levels if they regularly exercise.

  1. Reduce stress and cortisol levels

If you are suffering from long-term stress, it can increase the levels of cortisol hormone. If your cortisol levels are high, testosterone levels will decrease.

That’s why, you need to reduce stress as much as possible and which will also decrease the cortisol levels in your body. Regular exercise, whole foods, good sleep, balanced lifestyle and laughter can help you to reduce stress and also improve your overall health.

  1. Get more Vitamin D

Vitamin D offers several health benefits and it boosts testosterone naturally. If you consume just 3,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day, it can increase testosterone levels in the body by 25%.

You can get more vitamin D by increasing your exposure to sunlight regularly. You can also take a daily supplement of 3,000 IU of a vitamin D3 supplement.

4. Get Enough Sleep.

A lack of sleep affects a variety of hormones and chemicals in your body. This, in turn, can have a harmful impact on your testosterone.

The time honored goal is try for 7 to 8 hours per night.

5. Keep a Healthy Weight.

Obesity can have a deleterious effect on your testosterone levels.  Exercise and diet can improve your testosterone and also is good for your heart to avoid obesity.

6. Review Your Medications.

Some medicines can cause a drop in your testosterone level. These include: pain medications, steroids (prednisone), anabolic steroids such as those used by athletes and body builders, and anti-depressants.

7. Deep 6 the Supplements.

You may be bombarded with unsolicited snail mail and E –mail offering testosterone boosting supplements such as DHEA.  Let the truth be told, you are wasting your money as these supplements will not boost your testosterone.

Bottom Line:  Although these suggestions are helpful, they are just a step in the right direction.  For more information about testosterone replacement therapy, speak to your physician.

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There’s More To Testosterone Replacement Than Meets the Eye

February 9, 2017

Today, it is very common for middle aged men to have symptoms of low testosterone.  Many times these men will complain of decreased libido and decrease in their erections.  The treatment is hormone replacement therapy.  In addition to improving your libido, there are other advantages to hormone replacement therapy.  This blog will discuss the other benefits of testosterone replacement therapy.

Breast Formation. Male breast formation, also known as gynecomastia, is a source of anxiety for most men when they start to sprout. Men can form breasts during infancy, adolescence, old age, or anywhere in between. It all start with lowered testosterone and increased estrogen levels. Male breasts can be reduced or removed through gynecomastia surgery, but in other cases a simple adjustment of body sex hormone levels may be enough to provide the change desired.

Bone Density. Men start to lose bone mass as testosterone levels go south.  The same thing happens to women (though by a different mechanism), and typically starts to be noticed during old age. However, the groundwork for bone strength  starts in young adulthood, when your body starts to store calcium that will last for the rest of your life. If you don’t have sufficient testosterone, you can’t form bones that are strong enough to last until you die. Get tested for testosterone now to learn about how your health will be as you age.

Libido and Sexual Development. Testosterone has an enormous impact on secondary sex characteristics like body hair, but it’s absolutely central to sexual desire and performance. If you are having trouble with sexual intimacy, you may need to get checked for testosterone. Many men have seen improvement that changes their lives for the better after getting testosterone replacement therapy, without ever having to resort to pills for erections like Viagra, Levitra, Cialis.

Red Blood Cell Formation. Red blood cells are necessary for oxygen transportation in the body.  Testosterone increases the red blood cell production.  However, it is important to check the red blood cell count every 4-6 months if you are using testosterone replacement therapy as too high a level of red blood cells can be harmful.  Therefore, it is imperative to have a testosterone level, a PSA test (a screening test for prostate cancer), and a red blood cell count on a regular basis if you are using testosterone replacement options.

Bottom Line:  If you are middle age and complain of lethargy, weakness, loss of muscle mass, and alternation of your moods, then you may have testosterone deficiency.  The diagnosis is easily made with a simple blood test.  Treatment consists of injections, topical gels, patches and even small rice-sized pellets inserted under the skin.  For more information speak to your doctor.

Testosterone, Depression, and SSRI’s or Anti-Depressants-What’s the Connection?

December 21, 2015

Many people that take antidepressants, specifically SSRI’s (selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors), find out that they have abnormally low testosterone. So what does this all mean? Did the initial low testosterone lead the individual to become depressed and go on an antidepressant? Or did the treatment with an antidepressant actually slowly reduce the individual’s natural ability to produce testosterone?

It really is a “chicken vs. egg” type argument in regards to whether low T caused depression or an antidepressant caused low T. Unfortunately there is no clear-cut scientific answer as to whether the antidepressant you took caused your testosterone to be lowered.

With that said, new research comes out all the time finding new things about antidepressants (SSRI’s) – they really aren’t well understood. Many antidepressants medications are now linked to development of diabetes, birth defects, etc. Although there are no formal studies to link antidepressants with low testosterone, many people taking these drugs are convinced that they are the root cause.

It could have been that the lower testosterone was what caused the person to feel depressed in the first place. The low T could have also merely been a coincidence among those who are depressed – after all, having low T is a pretty common issue.

Antidepressants and Testosterone: Many people taking antidepressants experience low testosterone. Similarly, many people with low testosterone are taking antidepressants. These two factors could also occur independently. In other words a person may develop low testosterone while on an antidepressant without the antidepressant being the cause. 



Depression and Testosterone: Many people may be experiencing depression as a result of low testosterone. Similarly many people may be experiencing low testosterone as a result of depression. Additionally, these two factors could be totally unrelated and independent of each other. In other words the depression could have nothing to do with low T and vice versa.
Depression and sex drive – Many people with depression tend to have lower than average sex drives. It is the depression that is thought to lead to disinterest in pleasurable activities like sex. People may be in such a depressed, low level of arousal, that they don’t feel like having sex. Therefore in this case, it could be that the depression and not testosterone is causing reduced sexual interest.
Testosterone and sex drive – It is well known that healthy testosterone levels are linked with a healthy sex drive. Men that have low T tend to have less fuel for sex, erectile dysfunction, and other performance issues. If your testosterone level were to be lowered, the natural result would be a reduced sex drive. This reduced sex drive could be linked to depression – therefore testosterone could play a role.
Low testosterone causing depression? – Individuals with lower than average levels of testosterone could be experiencing depressive symptoms as a result of their low T. Studies have found that among men with abnormally low levels of T, testosterone therapy helped reduce symptoms of depression. For this reason it is important to rule out all causes of depression (including low T) before you get on an antidepressant.
Antidepressants and low testosterone – It is well documented that antidepressants can affect hormones. Therefore some hypothesize that hormonal changes can influence our sex drive. It is not known whether antidepressants are the culprit behind lowering levels of testosterone. Many people that have taken SSRI’s believe that the drugs they took lowered their testosterone.
Bottom Line: There is no question that there is a relationship between testosterone and depression. I cannot say for certain that low testosterone is a result of the use of SSRIs. However, if you are taking SSRIs and you are experience a low sex drive or libido, it is very easy to ask your doctor to obtain a blood testosterone test. If it is low, treatment is easily accomplished with either testosterone injections, topical gels or pellets.

FAQs on Erectile Dysfunction

December 5, 2015

It often is a mystery about men are able to achieve and hold an erection.  Even more mysterious is what are the causes of failure of erections and to fix the problem.  It is not uncommon for me to feel uncomfortable broaching the topic with their physician.  Fortunately, after the introduction of oral medication to treat impotence or erectile dysfunction in 1999, men are talking about their problems in the bedroom with their physicians.

In this blog I will discuss some of the most frequently asked questions about ED and the treatment for this common condition that impacts over 14 million American men.

  1. Why does Viagra fix the problem?

An erection requires an increase in the blood supply to the penis and more blood has to rush into the chambers of the penis than comes out of the penis.  When this happens, an erection will occur. Viagra helps blood vessels relax and increases the blood supply to the penis.

  1. Does the male hormone, testosterone, have a role in the erection process?

Testosterone acts on a series of different areas of the body to enhance bone development, muscle growth, sexual interest and function. Testosterone is primarily responsible for the libido or sex drive.  The testosterone level slowly decreases at a rate of about 1% a year starting around 25.  By middle age, most men start experiencing signs and symptoms of testosterone deficiency and men often need hormone replacement therapy.  This can be accomplished with injections, topical gels, or pellets of testosterone inserted under the skin.

  1. Why does sex feel good?

There is a high concentration of nerve endings in the penis and vagina, which triggers stimulation and orgasm. Dopamine is triggered and there is a pleasant feeling in the brain during ejaculation. It could also be an evolutionary thing. When we were cavemen with only animal instincts, the fact that sex feels good encouraged us to reproduce to keep the species going.

  1. Do sexually transmitted disease cause erectile dysfunction?

Gonorrhea and chlamydia are both sexually transmitted diseases that are caused by direct and unprotected sexual contact. Both STDs live in reproductive genital tracts of men and women and can be cured with antibiotics. If both STDs go untreated, it can lead to infection that will lead to infertility in men but usually does not cause erectile dysfunction.

5 Why does sex hurt?

The obvious reason is if the man’s penis is much larger than a woman’s vagina opening. The other possibility is that women have a decrease in lubrication of the vagina and the friction is a source of pain and discomfort usually for the men but also for the male partner as well.

Bottom Line:  Impotence is a common condition especially in middle age or older men.  Treatment is available and most men can be helped.  Talk to your doctor.

The Link Between Low T (Testosterone) and Depression

August 17, 2015

Most men think of testosterone as the sex hormone responsible for libido or sex drive. Yes, that is true but there is a also link between low testosterone levels and depression.

A study released at this year’s meeting of the Endocrine Society bring important news that men should know: Depression can go along with borderline or low testosterone levels.

A solid 56 percent of testosterone-deficient participants in the study, from the division of endocrinology at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., had significant symptoms or a diagnosis of depression and/or were taking an antidepressant.

The study involved men with testosterone levels of between 200 and 350 nanograms per deciliter. (A level below 300 ng/dL is considered low.)

Although I don’t recommend screening for low testosterone levels, I do suggest that men who are feeling depressed or not as happy as they would like to feel, consider getting their T levels checked.  It’s something your doctor could have missed that is very important to be addressed.

 Discussions about sex and erections

In general, doctors say men don’t like to discuss symptoms of low testosterone – such as erectile dysfunction and reduced sex drive – and that can make getting to the root cause of the condition and treating it harder.

There are symptoms of low testosterone that are specific to low testosterone – like a blood level less than 300 ng/dL, erectile dysfunction, low sperm count, large breasts and osteoporosis – and symptoms that are not, such as weight gain, decreased muscle strength and mood changes. Depression falls into the non-specific category.

If a person is treated for low testosterone and their mood improves, it could be said in hindsight that low testosterone probably caused their depression, but it’s hard to make a definite correlation at the onset.

Testosterone naturally starts to drop after age 30 at a rate of about 1%\year.

Testosterone replacement therapy, which can be given in the form an injection, a patch, a topical gel or a pellet inserted beneath the skin which lasts for 4-6 months.

Low T and Other Medical Problems

There is a correlation between low testosterone and a variety of indicators of poor health – obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, a lack of exercise as well as depression.

There is a well known connection between low T and obesity.  Obesity is the No. 1 cause of low testosterone levels and if you lose 10 to 15 percent of your total weight, your testosterone level will come up. In patients who have a testosterone level of less than 200 ng/dL and in younger patients who have a disease or a cancerous tumor that is causing low testosterone, medication is the obvious choice and usually yields improvement.

Paying attention to decreased testosterone is important because low testosterone raises a man’s risk of death and its decline is markedly accelerated by each co-morbidity.

Low Testosterone May Be Risk Factor for Prostate Cancer

August 7, 2015

For many years it has been thought that testosterone fuels prostate cancer and should be avoided at all costs regardless of a man’s symptoms of low libido, lack of energy and a decrease in muscle mass, just to name a few of the symptoms of low T.
Low testosterone levels predict an increased likelihood of high-grade prostate cancer being found as a result of a prostate biopsy.

A South Korean team studied 681 men who underwent an initial 12-core transrectal prostate biopsy. Of these, 86 had low testosterone levels (less than 300 ng/dL) and 143 had normal levels (300 ng/dL or higher). In addition, 143 men had a positive biopsy and 99 had high-grade prostate cancer.

Compared with a normal testosterone level, a low testosterone level was not significantly associated with a prostate cancer diagnosis overall, but it was associated with a significant 2.1 times increased risk for high-grade prostate cancer.

Bottom Line: Low testosterone level is an independent risk factor for high-grade prostate cancer detection at biopsy. Therefore, checking testosterone levels could help to determine whether prostate biopsy should be carried out.
Reference
Park J et al. BJU Int. 2015;doi:10.1111/bju.13206.

DHEA For Low T: Facts and Warnings

February 27, 2015

I have treated many men with low testosterone and many ask for a solution that does not involve testosterone replacement therapy. This blog will discuss the use of DHEA in men and how effective it may be for solving the symptoms of low T.

DHEA is a hormone that is naturally made by the human body. It can be made in the laboratory from chemicals found in wild yam and soy. However, the human body cannot make DHEA from these chemicals, so simply eating wild yam or soy will not increase DHEA levels.

Athletes and other men use DHEA to increase muscle mass, strength, and energy. But DHEA use is banned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

DHEA is also used by men for erectile dysfunction (ED) and in men who have low levels of testosterone in order to improve well-being and sexuality.

Like many dietary supplements, DHEA has some quality control problems. Some products labeled to contain DHEA have been found to contain no DHEA at all, while others contained more than the labeled amount.

How does DHEA work?
DHEA is a “parent hormone” produced by the adrenal glands near the kidneys and in the liver. In men, DHEA is also secreted by the testes. It is changed in the body to a hormone called androstenedione. Androstenedione is then changed into the major male hormones including testosterone.

DHEA levels seem to go down as people get older. Some researchers think that replacing DHEA with supplements might prevent some diseases and conditions.

DHEA is Possibly Effective for:
• Aging skin. Some research shows that taking DHEA by mouth increases the thickness and hydration of the top layer of the skin in elderly people. Early research shows that applying DHEA to the skin for 4 months improves the appearance of skin.

DHEA has Insufficient Evidence for:
• Aging. Taking DHEA does not seem to improve body shape, bone strength, muscle strength, insulin sensitivity, or quality of life in people older than 60 who have low DHEA levels.
• Hormone deficiency in men (partial androgen deficiency). Early research suggests that taking 25 mg of DHEA daily for one year might improve mood, fatigue and join pain in older men with hormone deficiency.
• Physical performance. Some research shows that older adults who take DHEA have improved measures of muscle strength. However, other research has found no effect of taking DHEA on muscle strength.
• Sexual dysfunction. Evidence on the effectiveness of DHEA for sexual dysfunction is inconsistent. Taking DHEA by mouth for 24 weeks seems to improve symptoms including erectile dysfunction and overall satisfaction in men. However, it does not seem to be helpful if erectile dysfunction is caused by diabetes or nerve disorders.
• Weight loss. Early evidence suggests that DHEA seems to help overweight older people who are likely to get metabolic syndrome to lose weight. It is not known if DHEA helps younger people to lose weight.

Bottom Line: DHEA is probably not a panacea for low T or a treatment for ED or erectile dysfunction.

Androstenedione: Is It Safe and Effective?

February 27, 2015

I am often asked by men if taking androstenedione is a substitute for testosterone in those who have symptoms of low T and don’t want to take testosterone.

Androstenedione (ASD) is a steroid hormone used by the body to make testosterone and estrogen. Studies on men taking 100-300mg\day have not shown any increase in muscle strength, muscle size, or lean body mass when used for 2-3 months in connection with weight training. ASD does not increasing energy or improve sexual desire and function.

In addition to not being effective ASD is POSSIBLY UNSAFE for most men when taken by mouth. Some side effects experienced by men include reduced sperm production, shrunken testicles, painful or prolonged erections, breast development, behavioral changes, heart disease, and others. ASD can increase the chances of getting cancers of the breast, prostate, or pancreas; and it is poisonous to the liver. Certainly if you have liver disease, don’t take ASD. Even if you don’t have liver disease, it’s best to get liver function tests if you take androstenedione.

Bottom Line: ASD has not shown to be helpful for men with low T or symptoms of low T. ASD may also be dangerous to your health and probably should be avoided by men with low T.

Warning Signs of Low T (testosterone)

February 21, 2015

Millions of American men suffer from low T or low testosterone. Often they suffer in silence and not aware that there are treatment options for this common condition. This blog will discuss some of the most common symptoms that are associated with low T. In the next blog I will discuss the treatment options.

Men like to make jokes about testosterone, but testosterone deficiency is no laughing matter. The latest research suggests that men without enough of the hormone face a higher risk of several serious illnesses, including diabetes, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease. A simple blood test can reveal whether a man has low T.

Testosterone is what fuels a man’s sex drive. If a man is low on T, he’s likely to have a decrease or loss of his libido. Testosterone is what’s responsible for a man’s sex interest. For men with low testosterone, it’s significantly deficient or completely absent.

A testosterone deficiency can cause significant medical problems, including diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease Three parts of a man’s body work together to produce the sperm-containing fluid that’s released when a man ejaculates. A man with waning testosterone may notice a sharp decline in his volume of his ejaculate. Men with low testosterone often complain of feeling numbness in their penis and scrotum. They may not be completely numb, but a touch of the penis or scrotom fails to elicit that feeling of electricity needed to spark sexual encounters – and make sex so pleasurable. It’s perfectly normal for a man to feel tired at the end of a busy day. But men with low T feel completely depleted. These men complain of being more tired than they think they ought to be. They seem to run out of gas in the late afternoon or early even. They often remark that “My tank is empty.”

Decreased energy level
In addition to feeling severe fatigue, guys with low testosterone often lose their drive and initiative. Guys who used to be up and at ’em all day long are sidelined on the sofa.

Even if they’re not experiencing clinical depression, men with low testosterone often feel down or blue. They feel less optimistic than they used to feel.

Low testosterone can cause guys to be irritable. Sometimes the problem is more apparent to partners, friends, family members and colleagues – than to the men themselves

It’s not like they become weaklings, but men with low testosterone often feel that they’re not as strong as they once were. Some men actually notice shrinkage in their arm and leg muscles, and in their chest. And if they try to build muscles with weight-lifting, they often find it frustratingly difficult to build muscle mass.

Low testosterone often results not only in reduced muscle mass, but also in increased body fat. Some men add weight around the middle. Others develop gynecomastic, a.k.a as breast development.

Low testosterone can cause them to shrink a bit and feel softer than normal.

The good news about low testosterone is that it’s easily treated – commonly with testosterone skin gels or under-the-skin pellets that release testosterone slowly. And in addition to helping resolve problems with sexuality, mood and appearance, testosterone therapy can help protect men against several serious medical problems, including diabetes, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease.

Bottom Line: Testosterone deficiency can affect millions of American men. This blog has provided some of the common symptoms of low T and in the next blog I will discuss treatment options.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Low T (Testosterone) But Afraid To Ask

February 21, 2015

Low testosterone is a common condition that impacts the sex life and the quality of life of millions of American men. This blog will discuss the symptoms of low T and what treatment options are available.

Testosterone is a hormone required for male development and is produced primarily in the testicles. It is responsible for building muscle and bone mass as well as sperm production and sex drive. It influences male pattern fat distribution, hair distribution such as a man’s beard, bone density, and red blood cell production.
Lack of or underproduction of testosterone either directly due to decreased production in the testes or indirectly due to lack of stimulation of the testes to produce testosterone by the pituitary gland is called hypogonadism and is a medical condition requiring treatment.
In the normal developing male, testosterone peaks during early adulthood. Once you reach age 30, testosterone levels slowly decline by approximately 1% a year. This is a normal part of aging.
The low limit of testosterone levels in men is about 300 nanograms per deciliter and the upper normal limit is approximately 1000-1200 ng/dl. A low level needs to be investigated further to distinguish it from normal aging.

Low testosterone (low-T) is underproduction or lack of production of testosterone.
Causes of low-T include chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, infections, obesity, or other hormonal conditions.

The symptoms of low-T include: erectile dysfunction (ED), decreased libido, change in sleep patterns, decreased sperm count and motility of sperm, and emotional changes such as depression and despondency.

My take home message is that low-T testing includes linking symptoms with testosterone blood levels.
Treatment options
Treatment options for low-T include different forms of testosterone therapy.
Some of the conditions that can lead to a low level are:
Obesity
Diabetes (type 2)
Chronic medical conditions (especially liver or kidney disease)
Hormonal disorders
Infections

What is the treatment for low testosterone (Low-T)?

Treatment of low testosterone is possible for most men who suffer from the symptoms of low T. There are several ways that testosterone therapy can be administered:
Transdermal (skin patch): Usually applied once a day (for example, Androderm). Tends to be clean and easy to apply. There is an available mouth patch which sticks to the upper gums and is applied twice daily.

Gels: Applied directly to the skin and then absorbed through the skin (for example, Androgel, and Axiron. Dosing is more difficult although these gels are available in single applications packages or premeasured pumps.

Injections: Testosterone can be delivered by direct injection.

Pellets: Pellets can be implanted into the soft tissue and release the testosterone.

I am often asked what treatment options are available that do not require any medications, gels, or injections. My advice is to get enough sleep, keep a healthy weight, and stay active.

Possible side effects and risks of testosterone therapy for the normal aging male include:
Stimulation of growth of the prostate (benign prostatic hypertrophy) and possible growth of existing prostate cancer. Please note that testosterone doesn’t cause prostate cancer, but if you have prostate cancer, testosterone can accelerate the growth of an existing cancer.
Skin reactions
Limiting sperm production and shrinkage of testicles
Over-production of red blood cells (which can be a contributor to a heart attack)
Some studies have implicated testosterone in an increase in cardiovascular events although there are studies that suggest that low testosterone levels places men at risk for heart disease and stroke.

Testosterone therapy is accepted as a treatment for men with symptoms of low T, which is a clearly defined medical condition.

In older adults who have markedly decreased testosterone levels without significant symptoms or who have modestly decreased levels with significant symptoms, testosterone therapy should be considered after a discussion with your doctor about side effects and possible positive effects of therapy.

Bottom Line: Testosterone deficiency is a common problem in middle age and older men. The diagnosis is easily made with a blood test to check the level of testosterone. Treatment can be accomplished with injections, topical gels, or pellets. For more information, speak to your physician.