Testosterone Replacement Therapy: Right for Men Over 50?
Somewhere around age 50 men begin a testosterone decline, but options exist.
As men reach the vicinity of their 50th birthday, significant hormonal changes may already be underway. Perhaps the most important change taking place is a gradual reduction in the male sex hormone testosterone.
Testosterone controls a lot in the male body, including serving as the principal male sex hormone and as an anabolic steroid. To simplify, that means testosterone controls sex drive and muscle growth. When testosterone levels fade in men, so does their sexuality and their physiques.
More specifically, men enter a life period often called andropause, or “male menopause”, where their bodies slow down, sex becomes less interesting – sometimes impossible through erectile dysfunction, and muscle and bone density begin decreasing.
The good news is that men over 50 have options in ways to slow this process of testosterone decline, and in some cases maybe even reverse it. We’ll first look at some natural ways to improve testosterone levels in men, always the best option. Second, we’ll look at hormone replacement therapy, an alternative to raising testosterone levels in men that should only be done under a doctor’s supervision.
First, men over 50 can effect testosterone decline naturally through lifestyle changes. Eliminating health degradation habits like drinking, smoking, drug abuse (including prescription abuse) provides the first option.
Second, improved diet positively influence hormone levels by eliminating sugars and highly glycemic foods, by drastically reducing excessive inflammation-causing omega-6 fats, and by reducing calories overall to the effect of lowering body fat levels.
Third, resistance training (weight lifting), especially using compound muscle exercises involving many muscle groups at once, raises free testosterone levels in men.
So that brings us to hormone replacement therapy. To be sure, natural approaches to health should receive first priority, however, after consulting with your physician, testosterone supplements may be an option.
Increasing research levels continue shedding new light on testosterone treatment in men over 50, but much debate remains.
On the positive side, men over 50 who have undergone treatment report positive results, including increased alertness and feeling of well-being, heightened libido and erection ability, increase in lean muscle mass, bone density, and notable decrease in body fat.
However, men considering this treatment should be aware of documented side effects. These include acne and oily skin and more significant complications like increased sleep apnea and acceleration of pre-existing prostate cancer growth.
Also, testosterone supplementation may contribute to premature and/or accelerated balding and it can also lead to infertility.
Your doctor may want to screen for prostate cancer with a digital rectal exam and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level before starting therapy, and monitor PSA levels closely during therapy.
So if you’re a man over 50 and you’ve noted physical and mental changes that you suspect may be a loss of testosterone, don’t worry – you have options! Start by making obvious improvements to your lifestyle, this will help you in more ways than you might think, not just your testosterone levels.
If you think hormone replacement therapy might be for you, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Be very open about your concerns and about your lifestyle and all factors your physician asks you about.
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