Is Low T Just a Normal Part of Aging?

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • Low T - you can’t escape hearing about low testosterone these days. Ads are on television and the radio constantly, asking about symptoms such as fatigue, low energy, low sex drive, depression and weight gain. All of these symptoms can signal a problem in testosterone levels - or could simply signal that you are getting older. At least that is what some doctors are concerned about - that we are treating symptoms of the natural aging process with testosterone.


    Hypogonadism


    Hypogonadism is a medical condition in which the testes don’t produce androgen, sperm or both. It is the cause of low testosterone. According to USA Today, somewhere between 3 and 7 percent of men between the ages of 30 and 69 have hypogonadism. [1]

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    Testosterone production is highest in the teen years and during the 20s. After that, the male body naturally reduces testosterone production, at the rate of about 1 percent a year beginning at age 30.  Normal levels of testosterone vary widely, anywhere from 300 to 1,200 nanograms per deciliter, making it difficult for a consensus on what constitutes Low T.


    Questions Surrounding Treatment


    Some doctors believe that treating Low T is risky business. For one, your own ability to create testosterone is suppressed once you begin treatment - that means you are committing to staying with the treatment. “It’s a lifetime commitment,” says Dr. Stephen Kyle Dreisbach in an article in USA Today. [2]


    There are also risks associated with medications for Low T; some studies have shown an increased risk for heart disease and prostate cancer. Other side effects include acne, enlarged breasts, testicle shrinkage and reduced sperm production. And commercials clear warn about the dangers of women and children coming into contact with the creams and gels.


    The risks involving this type of treatment haven’t been fully studied and “is not a proven treatment” according to Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman. [3]


    Improving Quality of Life


    Other doctors argue that treating Low T can help improve the quality of life for some men. Increased energy, strength and endurance help men feel younger and stay more active. There is some research showing improvements in bone density, muscle mass and body composition after taking Low T treatments.


    Treatment allows you to feel younger and can lift sagging spirits and increase energy. It can increase your sex drive and may help you lose weight. Because of this, some doctors say, it actually improves overall health.


    Treating Aging


    Doctors usually agree that treating those with testosterone levels below 300 is important but that the risks of treating  those well within the normal range haven’t been studied enough to know whether this is safe.


    For these doctors, we are simply treating and trying to reverse the natural aging process. Others believe we do that all the time. Many medical conditions can be attributed to getting older but we still treat them and try to give people the very best quality of life throughout their lives, not just when they are young.


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    References:


    [1] [2] [3] “Popular ‘Low T’ Therapy Divides the Medical Field,” 2013, June 12, Laura Ungar, USA Today

Published On: September 03, 2013