ANDROPAUSE: Testosterone is a hormone produced primarily in the testicles.
Men's testosterone levels naturally decline as they age. As this happens, men may only experience a few symptoms from this lower testosterone level that they can attribute to their age.
However, other individuals develop hypogonadism, a disease in which the body is unable to produce reasonable amounts of testosterone due to either a problem with the testicles or the pituitary gland that controls the testicles.
Hypogonadism can cause all the symptoms associated with lower testosterone levels in men younger than would usually be seen.
In the case of hypogonadism, testosterone therapy is suggested to help the individual reach an average level for their age and to improve the symptoms.
A simple blood test can determine if low testosterone is due to natural aging or disease.
It is important to note that some symptoms of low testosterone levels can also be a result of other lifestyle factors such as medication side effects, thyroid problems, depression, and excessive alcohol use. (Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com)
TESTOSTERONE TREATMENTS: Although testosterone levels naturally lower as men age, there is no evidence suggesting that older males need less of the hormone than their younger counterparts.
Some studies even suggest that since androgens induce their own receptors, tissues receiving low amounts of testosterone are less receptive to the effects of the hormone than those more fully supplied.
The testosterone therapies are not praised by everyone. Some physicians avoid treating older men with testosterone for fear that it may promote prostate cancer growth. While prostate cancer growth has not yet been positively linked with testosterone therapy, other complications exist as well.
Other issues include erythrocytosis, possible promulgation of sleep apnea, and a reduction of HDL cholesterol levels. (Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
ANDROGEL: YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED!
1. What are your thoughts on Androgel? Dr. Power: Androgel is a topical testosterone form that is an alternative to injectable testosterone.
I prefer injectable testosterone because the dosing is more reliable and there is no testosterone transfer to women and children, but Androgel is a possible alternative for testosterone replacement.
2. Who is Androgel for? Dr. Power: Men with low testosterone.
3. What is considered an average testosterone level? (what is the range between healthy levels and unhealthy levels). Dr. Power: The range for "normal" testosterone is extensive: around 250-1200ng/dL (nanograms per deciliter).
Men at the lower end of this range; below 400 or 500, or frequently symptomatic but are typically denied treatment as long as their testosterone level is in the "normal" range.
Some studies have shown an increased risk of heart disease and cancer at levels below 350. Most men feel better and lose weight if levels are raised to the 800-900 range.
4. How is testosterone measured and what are the units used in measuring testosterone? Dr. Power: A blood test is the most accurate way to check testosterone levels. Both total and free testosterone should be monitored.
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