Unless you've been living in a cave, or under a rock, you've undoubtedly heard the term "Low-T" or seen an advertisement talking about how testosterone declines as men age and how the solution is undergoing testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).
It promises an incredible allure: increased libido more muscle mass and strength, exploding energy levels to what they were in your youth, and a host of others.
But is that the entire story? Does it come with health risks?
Each birthday after 30 means a drop in testosterone levels by approximately 1%, and therefore 10% each decade.
Do the math. By age 60 your testosterone levels will be about 30 percent lower than what they were when you were a young man.
And, if you can live until age 80, you now have 50% of your youthful levels of the powerful masculine hormone. Congratulations! You're now, in many ways, ½ a man.
You've heard of menopause for women Andropause is what men experience…a natural, slow decline in testosterone levels. Sometimes, the decrease is fast, causing legitimate concerns.
Symptoms of Low-T include hair loss, fatigue, low semen production, lowered sex drive, erectile dysfunction, hot flashes, infertility, loss of muscle and bone mass, mood swings, mental fog and confusion, and slabs of ugly, flabby body fat accumulating, like a mob of football linemen piling on a hapless quarterback.
In short, a parade of horrors. These changes can naturally occur with aging, but if you are an older man and are experiencing many of these all at once, it may be time to see your doctor.
Some men see testosterone replacement as a fountain of youth - a way to reverse typical results of aging and make them feel young and virile once again.
However, it may not be quite that simple. There may be unwanted side effects with TRT: insomnia, reduced sperm production, and gynecomastia (enlarged breasts.)
Also, it's not only side effects that should make you think twice. Studies on the safety of taking testosterone supplements are not conclusive.
Some studies have found that it raises your risk for not only heart attacks but stroke and deep vein thrombosis as well.
For years, it was thought that taking testosterone supplements might increase your risk of prostate cancer, but recent studies show these claims to be false.
There are legitimate reasons to treat Low-T, including a relatively common condition known as hypogonadism. Hypogonadism means merely the testes stop producing testosterone at adequate levels.
Three million men each year in the U.S. have this condition. Certain conditions can cause hypogonadism, including radiation exposure, infections, liver and kidney disease, autoimmune disorders, genetic disorders, and more.
Another reason may be male infertility if you and your partner are trying to conceive. Male infertility is responsible for approximately a third of the cases of infertility among couples.
If you suspect you might have Low-T, talk with your doctor.
The only way to check for Low-T is a blood test. Sometimes, the solution is not added testosterone, but an increase in your iron intake. Low iron can affect your testosterone levels.
There are also other nutritional supplements to consider: diindolylmethane (DIM) and Indole-3-Carbinol can help your body metabolize estrogen, a proven testosterone killer.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a precursor of testosterone and controls levels of cortisol, the so-called "stress hormone" which is another hormone that lowers testosterone.
Korean Ginseng, Muira Puama, Saw Palmetto, Tribulus Terrestris, Zinc, and other natural sources are a few things to consider.
Also, never forget the importance of nutrition, hydration, adequate sleep, and exercise. All of these factors combine to produce the right environment for your body to produce testosterone naturally.
Finally, do everything possible to reduce your intake of junk food, sugar, alcohol, drugs of all types, and control stress.
If your doctor does prescribe testosterone replacement therapy, you have several options as to how you will receive the hormone: wearing a patch, applying the gel, sucking on a lozenge, or getting an injection.
Testosterone replacement therapy is serious, and certainly not something you should decide upon lightly. Check with your doctor first to see if it's right for you.
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