Low Testosterone Therapy | Men’s Health

Recommended by Dr. Michael White, Published on February 23rd, 2015
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I'm in the bathroom, door locked, staring at the mirror, stripped down to the heart-covered boxers my wife, Kathy, gave me for Valentine's Day. As I hold the 0.5 cc syringe, I'm humming Neil Young's "The Needle and the Damage Done"a bit of black humor to pump up enough courage to jab the hypodermic into my abdomen.

My syringe is tipped with a hollow 31-gauge needle that's not significantly bigger than a mosquito's proboscis, so it's not the stick, exactly, that I fear. (Well, maybe a little.) What scares me is the syringe's contents: human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG. It's not an illegal steroid, nor is it growth hormone or testosterone, but it could still get me thrown out of baseball or the NFL. It is a natural glycopeptide hormone made in the placenta of a pregnant woman, extracted from her urine, and purified into the Pregnylmade by pharmaceutical giant Merckloaded into my syringe.

That's correct: What I'm about to shoot up came from pee.

Why? You're right to ask. As a drug, hCG is used as a fertility treatment. Since I'm blessed with three beautiful children already, I'm in no need of a sperm booster. Rather, the shot of hCG is to jumpstart my testes to produce more testosterone. The fact is, my T gas tank is nearing E.

A simple blood test a month ago revealed that my total testosterone was low, at 244 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl); normal is 300 to 1,000, though some doctors prefer it to be above 350. A second testconsidered more telling because it measures "free" testosterone, the type that binds with receptors all over the body and makes important stuff happenwas very low, at 45 picograms per milliliter.

"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. Dr. Comite adds that for optimal functioning, free testosterone should be between 150 and 250 pg/ml. Her statement hits me like a kick in the balls. Testosterone is what makes men men. It's the fuel for muscle mass, bone density, and body hair. It plays a supporting role in every major organ system, from your arteries to your brain.

Starting in his late 30s or early 40s, a man's testosterone level begins to wane; research has shown that it drops by 1 to 2 percent a year after age 40. At that gradual rate, most men don't notice the decline until they hit their 50s, when symptoms such as reduced energy, loss of libido, and weaker erections start to appear, says Dr. Comite, the author of Keep It Up: The Power of Precision Medicine to Conquer Low T and Revitalize Your Life (check out the book here). The medical term is "hypogonadotropic hypogonadism," but it's also been described as "andropause" or even "male menopause."

Me? Low T? Emasculated at age 52? It can't be. I'm still relatively young and in better shape than many of my peers. While my libido may have dipped since my randier fraternity days, it's still strong. But I am doughier all around; I can't bench-press 280 anymore; long runs have become runwalks. Most important, I've learned that low T is linked to diabetes and heart disease, both of which run in my family.

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Low Testosterone Therapy | Men's Health

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