By Chad Ruiz
Men, how is your energy level? Does it feel like you’re running on empty? Has your libido flown south for the winter…3 winters ago? A decline in energy, sex drive, mental capacity, muscle mass and even hair are all symptoms of low testosterone (and other hormone) levels.
And those are just the short term effects! Few people know about the serious conditions caused from long-term low levels. These include brittle bones, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, respiratory disease, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In fact, “The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism” recently concluded after an 11-year study that men with insufficient testosterone levels were more likely to die sooner than their counterparts.
What’s that you say? You’re too young for a drop in testosterone? Believe it or not, testosterone levels begin their descent as early as 30!
“Both men and women, at some point in their life, will begin to experience the normal decrease in hormones,” said OBGYN Dr. Stefanie Schultis, a board certified physician and surgeon who has been in private practice since 1989 in Louisiana. “Many begin asking themselves, ‘What’s happening to me?’ A decrease in hormones for men more commonly occurs in their 40s but I occasionally have treated men in their 20s and 30s with low testosterone levels. It really interrupts their quality of life.”
While hormone therapy has been around for more than 50 years in the form of pills, creams and gels, it’s been accepted more among women. Thanks to the popularity of the “pellets,” Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) appeals to both women AND men.
“After so many years of recommending pills, creams and gels, what became obvious is that the pellet mode of dispensing hormones is often more beneficial because we get a more consistent, steady-state level of absorption which we see through clinical response and lab values,” Dr. Schultis said.
The process is simple and painless. First, your doctor evaluates your physical health, your current symptoms and your current hormone levels. Once they qualify you, the doctor tasks a pharmacy to compound the appropriate hormone mix. Then, during the follow-up appointment, your doctor injects the pellet(s) under your skin—usually in the hip. The pellets last for several months.
Increased hormone levels could help more than your looks. Studies highlighted in the Harvard Medical School’s “Harvard Men’s Health Watch” suggests a link between low testosterone levels and mental decline, like this one from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging: “A 2004 report evaluated 574 men over a 19-year period. Low free testosterone levels predicted an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, even after other dementia risk factors were taken into account.” Other studies also observed that individuals with higher testosterone levels displayed sharper cognitive acuity and quicker memories.
Dr. Schultis warns that several disorders may cause reduced hormone levels so it’s always best practice to undergo a full checkup by your doctor before seeking hormone replacement therapy.