Benefits of Low Testosterone Therapy
Testosterone is what makes men…men. It’s the fuel for muscle mass, bone density, sex drive and male confidence. It plays a supporting role in every major organ system, from your arteries to your brain.
Your testosterone level at age “Forty-five is about the level of a boy just beginning puberty,” says Florence Comite, M.D., an endocrinologist who practices in New York City.
Can you see yourself asking these types of questions? “What happened to my sex drive? Why can’t I get rid of this body fat? Where did my strength and muscle tone go? Why is weight training so difficult? Why have those long runs become run-walks?
Improved body composition.
Reduced belly fat and more muscle are common benefits of low testosterone therapy. In a UCLA study conducted at seven U.S. medical centers and published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, men who were given Testosterone therapy added 4.3 pounds of muscle in six months, and 6.5 pounds over 18 months. “The improvement in body composition helps you metabolize sugar better and may help reverse insulin resistance,” says Dr. Comite.
When men are treated with testosterone, their bone mineral density increases, especially in their hips and spine. Osteoporosis is no longer considered a women’s disease; in fact, four out of 10 fractures are due to brittle bones after age 50 occur in men.
Better sexual function.
In a review of 17 studies in the journal of Clinical Endocrinology, researchers found that an average of three months of testosterone supplementation boosted libido, increased the frequency of sex, and triggered more nocturnal spontaneous erections.
A healthier cardiovascular system.
Studies have found low testosterone levels in men with heart disease or with its risk factors, suggesting that Low T may play an important role in cardiovascular function. One theory: Testosterone may help keep arteries flexible, allowing them to dilate and constrict with changes in blood flow.
Age and Testosterone
Approximately 5 million men in the United States have been diagnosed with low testosterone. A study in the International Journal of Clinical Practice figures another 12.5 million men in the United States have the hormone deficiency but aren’t receiving treatment for it. However, as testing becomes more commonplace, the number of diagnoses may be rising. A study in JAMA Internal Medicine reported that between 2001 and 2011, the number of testosterone prescriptions written for men age 40 or older increased more than threefold. Younger men are asking for testosterone therapy as well, doctors report.
Abraham Morgentaler, M.D., an associate clinical professor of urology at Harvard Medical School, doesn’t believe that this “normal part of aging” should be ignored. He regularly prescribes testosterone therapy at his practice. “Aging is associated with bad hearing, bad teeth, bad arteries, bad joints, and cancer, and we treat all those things,” he says. “Nobody would argue that you shouldn’t wear glasses because weaker eyesight is common as you get older.”
Statements from patients:
“I’ve gained an inch on my arms. I notice veins popping through tighter skin, and my jeans are falling off me. People ask if I’ve lost weight. Actually, I’ve gained 4 1/2 pounds. A recent full-body scan showed why: In six months, I added 10.3 pounds of lean tissue (muscle) and lost 6 pounds of body fat, primarily in my belly. I know it hasn’t all been due to time in the weight room and clean living. I’m convinced the increase in testosterone has paid dividends.”
“I feel stronger and more energetic. My libido is about the same: healthy. Not sex-crazed healthy, but I’ve welcomed back morning wood. Maybe that’s why I’m more upbeat—my mood is better, and I feel happier.”
“But I’m not more aggressive”—a behavior change often tied to testosterone. That’s not surprising to Robert Sapolsky, Ph.D., a neuroendocrinologist at Stanford University and a leading researcher on stress and behavior. “It’s really not the case that testosterone ’causes’ aggressive behavior,” he says. “Instead, it makes the brain more sensitive to social cues that trigger aggression. And in support of that, a guy’s testosterone level isn’t a very good predictor of how likely he is to be aggressive.”
“I’m enjoying the way I feel and the satisfaction of taking a proactive approach, one made possible by medical science. I think of my grandfather, who couldn’t take advantage of the new technologies. His final years were spent sitting in a chair in pain, looking forward to his Yankees games and a weekly shot of Wild Turkey. “Same as dead,” he’d say to me, resting his chin on his cane. It’s a fate I’m unwilling to accept. If that means testosterone therapy for me, then I’m all for it.”
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