Testosterone…The Cure for What Ails You?
With all the talk over the past several years about testosterone, andropause, and “Low T,” many men seem to be looking to it as the universal solution to any and all health problems related to their aging bodies. We see “Low T” clinics cropping up in strip malls across the country. We’re flooded with advertisements for testosterone gels and creams on TV and the internet and in doctor’s offices. It’s a common conversation between men from locker rooms to board rooms. Low testosterone in many ways seems to have become synonymous with aging in men. More importantly, testosterone replacement is being touted by many (including some physicians) as a panacea to treat aging and age-related decline in men.
I hate to break it to you men (and women!): It’s not.
So Why All This Talk About Testosterone?
First, let’s look at some common symptoms of low testosterone:
- Low sex drive
- Difficulty achieving erection
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Loss of muscle mass
- Increase in body fat
- Decrease in bone mass
- Mood changes
Hmmm. Sounds to me like a list of the common symptoms of aging for men in general. But as a physician, I can think of lots of disease processes and hormone problems that share many of these same symptoms. So while low testosterone may be your problem, it may not be your problem at all. Or, more likely, it is a problem…along with some others. So a single hormone approach to treating your symptoms would be like breaking three bones in your leg and repairing only one. It’s incomplete.
Why I Love Testosterone
First off, let me clarify something. I love testosterone!
It’s an amazing hormone, with so many critical, beneficial effects. Having optimal (not just “normal”) testosterone levels benefits men (and women) in so many ways. To start, the organ with the highest concentration of testosterone receptors in the body is the heart. It’s absolutely essential for cardiac function, helping your heart beat as strongly and efficiently as possible. Additionally, it plays a key role in building and maintaining lean body mass. And strong bones. It also decreases body fat, especially in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise. It has a positive effect on sex drive and sexual performance. And improves mood and overall sense of well-being.
But here’s the catch: while testosterone may be the problem, if you have low testosterone, my experience in the field of Age Management and Hormone Optimization has shown that you’re likely to have other hormonal deficiencies as well. So depending on what symptoms you’re experiencing and where your hormone levels are, there may be a variety of solutions other than testosterone optimization alone.
What Else Could Be Causing My Symptoms?
As your body ages, and as a result of other factors (diet, sleep, stress, exercise, environmental toxins, etc.), there is typically a fall in the levels of hormones you want nice and high (thyroid, DHEA, human growth hormone (HGH), melatonin, etc.). And a rise in the levels of hormones you want nice and low (insulin, cortisol, etc.). Each of these hormones together – not just individually – helps your body function as optimally as possible as you age.
So it’s quite possible (and in my experience most likely) that your symptoms could be caused by changing levels of several hormones. Any of these can have a significant negative effect on your body when too low (or too high, depending on the hormone).
You see, your body’s hormones perform much like musical instruments in an orchestra. Each plays its own part in creating a perfect concert, up until the day one (or more) is out of tune. When this happens, it throws off the entire symphony!
So What Can You Do?
I thick it’s crucial when seeking a solution for your symptoms that you find a physician that specializes in Hormonal Optimization in order to be best evaluated, tested, and educated about your body and the symptoms you’re experiencing. So you get the best treatment with the best type and amount of hormone(s) for you. As well as learning what nutritional, exercise, and lifestyle changes to implement to increase your body’s production and utilization of hormones.
You wouldn’t go to your primary care physician to get treated for a cavity, right? You’d see a dentist. For cataracts you’d go to an eye doctor. You should approach hormonal optimization in the same way. See a physician who is trained in optimizing hormones.
It will make all the difference in helping you look and feel as good as possible for as long as possible.
To schedule an Age Management/Hormonal Optimization evaluation with me, call 1-323-874-9355.