Should all men older than 50 have testosterone checked?
Although we monitor and treat women for menopausal symptoms, is enough attention given to aging men and their possible symptoms due to low testosterone?
Men start decreasing production of testosterone in their 40s at a rate of 1 to 2 percent yearly. Symptoms of low testosterone may come on more slowly than the estrogen deficit in women and be misinterpreted. They include fatigue, depression, decreased libido, decreased muscle mass, increased fat (i.e., the beer gut), impaired brain function and erectile dysfunction (This is usually noticed.).
Testosterone is beneficial to heart and circulation. Studies have shown improvements on stress tests for men with heart disease and increased diameters of arteries to the heart in men treated with testosterone injections. Since testosterone increases muscle mass and function, it can improve pump function of the heart itself. Low testosterone levels are associated with higher levels of cholesterol, LDL and plaque in arteries. Danish physician, Dr. Moeller, used testosterone injections to treat gangrene. It worked so well in increasing circulation to the extremities that often limbs were saved from amputation.
In addition to this, testosterone can help in prevention of diabetes. It increases insulin sensitivity, so the processing of sugar is facilitated.
Lastly, we should know that testosterone affects and enhances brain function. Patricia Hurn at OHSU has studied the effects of testosterone in facilitating recovery from stroke.
What about sex? Testosterone can help reverse erectile dysfunction. It also enhances libido, energy and vitality if used in the correct dose.
Sounds great, right? Maybe all older men should have lots of this stuff. Of course, overdoing the testosterone can have bad effects. No one with a cancer should take testosterone, since it acts as a growth stimulant. Athletes have a reputation for overusing testosterone in high levels. But supporting the body with a replacement dose of natural testosterone makes sense to prevent many diseases in aging men. Testosterone levels are easy to do with a simple blood test.
Natural (bioidentical) forms of the hormone are available in easy-to-use gel forms without the needles and can improve health greatly. Perhaps it is time for us to take a more active role in evaluating men for this deficiency.
Dr. Laurie Marzell is a naturopathic physician and certified menopause practitioner with the North American Menopause Society. She has an office in Lake Grove on Boones Ferry Road.Add a comment