The prevalence of erectile dysfunction (ED) has men of all ages seeking the most effective treatment. In recent years, low testosterone is the scapegoat for a growing number of male sexuality issues, including low sex drive and impotence.
Testosterone therapy may be comfortable, but top penile implant surgeon, Dr. J. Francois Eid, cautions that the fallout is an abundance of men unnecessarily "addicted" to hormone replacement therapy.
"Testosterone replacement therapy arrests the body's natural production of testosterone. The treatment is now showing striking similarities to past problems with hormone replacement for women," explains Dr. Eid, an innovator of the No-Touch Technique for a penile implant and penile prosthesis surgery.
"Surgery isn't the answer for everyone, but neither is testosterone. Accurate diagnosis of ED symptoms is critical," he says. "Very few men have abnormal (low) testosterone. We have to explore ED causes before assuming low testosterone to be the reason."
Testosterone is responsible for many a manly attribute, but Dr. Eid answers the five most common myths about "Low T" treatment.
Myth #1: My erection problems are caused by low testosterone. Truth: The ability to achieve and sustain a normal erection does not require an average testosterone level. Increasing testosterone level does not increase the strength or frequency of erections.
ED is not a hormone problem; it's a vascular problem. Male impotence or weak erections are caused by blood flow and blood storage problems in the penis; adding testosterone won't fix that.
Myth#2: If I take testosterone my sex drive and erections will improve. Truth: Sex drive is a complicated beast that can be negatively impacted by lack of sleep, stress, relationship issues, and other lifestyle factors.
Testosterone plays a role in sex drive, but it's not a cure-all, and it won't override other concerns. Studies have proven that testosterone replacement does not improve a man's erections when compared to a placebo.
Myth #3 My doctor said my testosterone level is low, so it must be.
Truth: Normal testosterone level is measured as a range between 300 and 1,200 nanograms per deciliter, not a high-low scale. Men at the low end do not have Low T. Further, a man's testosterone level changes throughout the day and gradually, consistently declines each year beginning around age 35.
Few men have levels below 300 mg/dL, and those who do should repeat the test before embarking on treatment. If level continues to show abnormally low after a second test, further evaluation is needed to find the cause.
Myth #4 Testosterone replacement is healthy; it's just more of what my body makes naturally.
Truth: The body generally makes what the body needs, and if it's not producing enough testosterone it's often an indication of a medical condition such as diabetes, thyroid problems, or liver or pituitary deficiencies.
Testosterone therapy stops natural hormone production, and long-term side effects may include reduced sperm count, infertility, testicle shrinking, urinary issues, prostate cancer growth, and more.
Myth #5 I feel better and have more energy when I use testosterone, so it must be working.
Truth: Testosterone replacement therapy does boost mood and energy level, and men commonly report feeling better. However, those changes take place because testosterone is a steroid.
Severe depression and symptoms of withdrawal can occur when men stop testosterone replacement. Having more energy and just feeling better won't translate to better or stronger erections.
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