It has been found that testosterone injections and hormone gels lead to a higher risk of stroke or heart attack. Prescribing testosterone should therefore be done cautiously. With over 5 million prescriptions being done in a single year in the United States, practicing precaution in testosterone use is necessary.
In men, testosterone is prescribed to treat the decrease in the levels of it, increase the muscle mass, enhance the density of bone, and also improve the sexual drive. Testosterone is produced in the testicles primarily. Its main functions in men include:
- Increase in density of bone
- Distribution of fat
- Increase in muscle mass and strength
- Production of sperm
- Sexual drive
- Production of red blood cells
When testosterone is not produced in the desired quantity due to defective pituitary gland or testicle, a disease termed hypogonadism is caused. With proper replacement therapy, this can be treated. Testosterone is given in the form of patches, pellets, gels or injections.
Aging and Testosterone
The level of testosterone is recorded highest during early adulthood and adolescent stage. But later, the levels start declining. The decline in older people may be due to either hypogonadism or normal aging process. Determining this will help to design the proper treatment. Some of the signs of decline in the level of testosterone include:
- Physical changes like reduction in muscle mass and strength, body fat, reduced bone density, hair loss, and tender or swollen breasts
- Decrease in sexual desire, erectile dysfunction, and in some cases infertility too
- Insomnia and disturbances in sleep pattern
- Depression, reduced confidence levels, and disturbed memory power
While a few of the above symptoms occur normally as part of the aging process, some may occur due to systemic factors like thyroid disease, depression, and an excessive intake of alcohol. Determining the testosterone level can only be done through a blood test.
- Recommended Reading – Should I Be Concerned By My Sudden Weight Gain?
Testosterone Treatment and Heart Disease
Studies show that the incidence of heart problems is higher when a person is taking low testosterone therapy. Use of testosterone supplementation should therefore be done only when it is needed for the right reasons. When the testosterone levels decrease as part of aging process, it is not necessary for replacement therapy unless the disturbance caused is of greater extent. Informing patients about the risks present in the long term use and the harmful effects of the therapy is therefore important.
When the lifestyle changes are advantageous, aging process will not bring about a marked decline in testosterone levels. Natural boosting of the testosterone can be done by a proper regimen of diet and exercise. When this is done consistently, longevity and a healthy heart can be assured. Also when the lifestyle changes include the diet and exercise regimen, an overall reduction in contracting chronic diseases is brought about including the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Hormone replacement therapy should not be used as a quicker route to regain lost youth which is the common reason for men opting for this therapy. Choosing the treatment knowing about its harmful side effects and other repercussions is therefore important.