Noble McIntyre on May 8, 2014
If you read our three-part series (check out part I, part II and part III) on Low-T, or low testosterone, and the therapies that are being used for treatment, you already know that some of the popular treatments can be risky. However, new research has been released in the past few weeks that there might be more to consider than the original studies indicated.
A recent NPR story described testosterone therapy as “the biggest men’s health craze since Viagra” because the number of prescriptions for testosterone has more than tripled in this country in the past ten years and that low-T clinics are starting to crop up in many cities.
One of the primary concerns is that the symptoms of low-T (low energy and decreased sex drive) are often actually indicating something much more serious, like sleep apnea, depression or heart disease. One researcher quoted in the story said that any man in his 40s or 50s who is newly experiencing erectile dysfunction is at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, including heart attack.
The other concern is that these low-T clinics are using unsafe or uninformed practices in prescribing hormones. Although current studies have not found that the clinics are inherently unsafe, it was found that many of the associated doctors are not urologists or endocrinologists. Rather, they’re doctors in other specialties that are not specifically trained to deal with erectile dysfunction or hormonal issues. Some clinic doctors argue that being trained in endocrinology or urology is not necessary for being able to treat the patients showing symptoms of low-T.
All of this is not to say that low-T is not a real and significant problem for some men, nor is it suggesting that if you are experiencing low-T, you shouldn’t seek treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms associated with low-T, they important thing is to get an accurate diagnosis. That means having your testosterone level measured by a blood test. The test should be done first thing in the morning and it should be done more than once in order to ensure that the results are correct. However, even if your testosterone is low, there are reasons why that could be the case that don’t require hormone therapy as treatment. Obesity is a common cause of low testosterone because fat tissue can turn testosterone into the female hormone estradiol. One study showed that obese men were able to double their testosterone levels in a single year by having weight-loss surgery and losing 40 pounds. As well, the physician should rule out diabetes and sleep apnea as the causes of the patient’s low-T. If those conditions are present, they should be treated before any hormone therapy begins. If none of these causes appears to be the culprit and the patient has unexplainable low testosterone, then the therapy needs to be closely monitored in order to make sure that it’s not causing too many red blood cells to be produced because that can lead to deadly blood clots. If you’re receiving hormone therapy for low-T, you should be tested every six months for red blood cell production, blood pressure and estradiol.
The bottom line is that while testosterone therapy can be a good option for some men, each patient must have an understanding of the serious risks that go along with it. As well, no patient should begin testosterone therapy unless his physician has ruled out other conditions that have similar symptoms, as well as having conclusively determined by means of more than one blood test that he does, in fact, have low-T.
If you believe that you or a loved one have been harmed as a result of testosterone therapy, the attorneys at McIntyre Law, P.C. can help. We represent men who have suffered side effects of testosterone therapy, including heart disease and stroke. If you think that this has happened to you, call us today at (877) 917-5250 for a consultation.