Low Testosterone Therapy Risks and Rewards
By: Jonathan A. Knoll, Attorney
If you have been watching television lately, then you probably have heard about a treatment advertised as a way to boost men’s energy and health. This treatment, called low testosterone therapy, is being marketed to men over the age of 30 as a way to increase their muscle mass, boost their sex drive, and improve their energy. Options for testosterone replacement include an injection, patch, pellets, and a gel.
What does it mean to have low testosterone and how is it diagnosed?
Low testosterone (<300 ng/dL), or “low T” is clinically known as hypogonadism. Males with a low level of testosterone may show some of the following symptoms:
- Loss of interest in sex
- Fertility problems
- Tiredness and lack of energy
- Loss of bone density
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of body hair
While testosterone replacement therapy sounds like a faster alternative to dieting and exercise, it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself two simple questions. First, is low testosterone therapy necessary for me? And second, what are the risks?
(1) Is low testosterone therapy necessary? Testosterone helps maintain men’s bone density, fat distributions, muscle mass, and sex drive. Low testosterone levels can occur due to, for example, lack of exercise, a poor diet, and not getting enough sleep. Addressing those factors are positive steps that you can take to help prevent low testosterone and improve your overall health.
(2) What are the risks of low testosterone therapy? A study released in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that men using a low testosterone treatment had a nearly 30% increase risk of stroke, heart attack, or death compared to men who did not receive a testosterone treatment. Additionally, one news article notes that doctors are cautioning men who might want to have children to not use testosterone therapy.
Some risks to testosterone replacement therapy may include:
- Prostate enlargement
- Possibly stimulate growth of existing prostate cancer
- Increase risk of heart disease
- Shrunken testicles
- Lowered sperm count or sterility
Dr. Ryan Terlecki, a urologist at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center talks about this increase of awareness and desire for testosterone therapy treatments and says, “testosterone therapy isn’t a substitute for taking care of overall health.” If you are considering whether low testosterone therapy is right for you, be sure to consult with your doctor about the risks and benefits. It may just be that a healthier lifestyle is the safer and better prescription for you. Contact us for a free consultation.