A middle-aged guy goes to see his testosterone physician, he's complaining about a host of problematic symptoms, some are vague or general: He's tired all the time, and especially lethargic in the afternoon, feeling somewhat sad or depressed at time when it doesn't call for it, and he's feeling down about his libido -- a touch anxious concerning his general manliness.
Would supplementing testosterone be a possible answer? Could he just require a steady boost of doctor monitored and prescribed testosterone replacement therapy? Testosterone being the vital androgen sex hormone produced by the adrenal glands and testicles, is essential for normal healthy function in both men and women. With respect to Testosterone, women produce about 15% to 10% of what a man produces. When testosterone declines, men can often feel it the most, because it can turn their lives upside down.
These days, watching commercials from drug companies might lead you to believe that testosterone replacement could be just what you need, but researchers say it's unclear whether the issues associated with aging decreased sex drive, less energy, reduced muscle mass are the result of low testosterone or other factors.
Often equated with youth, vigor, and strength, testosterone is responsible for the development of the penis and testes; it also helps build muscle and bone density, maintain adequate levels of red blood cells and helps keeps men confident and vibrant.
But as men age, the amount of testosterone in the body gradually declines. After age 30, a decline of about 1 percent a year begins and continues throughout the rest of a man's life.
There's substantial debate over whether decreasing testosterone levels need to be treated. Most experts say testosterone is about as useful as anti-wrinkle face cream when used to reverse the effects of aging.
Test results are hit or miss: Blood tests for testosterone are so unreliable, and saliva tests are even worse. Therefore, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched the Hormone Standardization Project to improve the accuracy and standardization of the lab data.
Nor can doctors diagnose a condition using a single measurement, because lab results vary and levels of testosterone tend to fluctuate throughout the day. The highest levels of testosterone are generally in the morning.
Meaning of low and average is unclear: Doctors don't exactly know what low is. Normal testosterone levels for any age are over 300 nanograms per deciliter. But the healthy range is extensive and spans between 250 and 1,100 nanograms per deciliter, said Neil Goodman, chairman of the hormone and reproductive medicine committee for the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.
In general, if it's under 200, the guy really has a problem that needs to be worked on, said Goodman, a professor of medicine at the University of Miami. It's the 200 to 300 range where no one can agree whether the symptoms are related to testosterone, said Goodman.
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