Chances are you’ve seen TV commercials and have heard the term “Low-T” – a catch phrase referring to low testosterone. Drug companies have marketed heavily to consumers in recent years, urging men to consider hormones to treat the symptoms of “low T”. And it’s worked.
Testosterone therapy can help men suffering from low sexual desire, weaker and fewer erections, loss of muscle mass, increased body fat, decreased height, lack of energy, fatigue, depressed mood, and poor concentration.
In 2000, approximately 1 million prescriptions were written for testosterone therapy in the United States. Fast forward to 2011 when 5.3 million prescriptions were written. That’s 5 times the number in just a decade. The number of men now taking testosterone is nearly 4% of men in their 60’s.
But like any drug, using testosterone therapy carries its own set of risks.
A recent study, which followed 55,000 men, shows testosterone therapy can double the risk of heart attacks in men 65 or older. These findings are just the latest in a series of studies raising concerns about the heart attack risk .
While these new findings are certainly noteworthy, it is important to keep in mind that under the guidance of a skilled physician, testosterone therapy is a perfectly safe and appropriate method of treatment when used properly.
A patient using testosterone therapy should have had a blood test to confirm Low-T, or ‘hypogonadism’. Once testosterone therapy has started, the patient’s testosterone levels should be checked regularly with a blood test to ensure the dosage is having the intended effect. Other lab work such as a full blood panel and PSA screenings are also necessary when taking testosterone. Taking these precautions can minimize risks associated with using the drug.
At Urology Austin, we encourage discussion with our patients in order to properly diagnosis and treat Low T based on symptoms, lab tests and the patient’s other health needs.