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Male Hormone Replacement Therapy

Most men don’t like to hear this, but when it comes to testosterone, they hit their peak at about age 17. Levels plateau for awhile, then slowly start to slide in their 30’s and 40’s. By the time a man reaches 80, his testosterone level will be about half of what it was hen he was a younger. For decades, doctors have used synthetic testosterone to treat a small number of men whose hormone level is unambiguously low. Hypogonadism, as it is called, can be caused by a problem in the testes (where most testosterone is made) or in the pituitary gland (the “master gland” under the brain that secretes a signaling hormone to get the testes into action).


But now, a growing number of men in the United States are taking testosterone to reverse the gradual related decline of hormone, or so-called andropause. By some estimates, the number of testosterone prescriptions in the United States has tripled in recent years, and total sales now come to about $400 million a year. That’s not much compared with the $12.5 billion spent on cholesterol-lowering statins, but the upward trend is still impressive, and means it’s becoming much more mainstream.


Testosterone isn’t taken as a pill, because it can be toxic to the liver in that form. It’s readily absorbed through the skin, so it’s easy to use as a gel that is usually spread daily on the upper arms, shoulders and abdomen after a morning shower, when the skin is clean and dry. The gels have largely replaced testosterone patches, the first transdermal method. Straint is a gel designed to be applied to the gums. It’s also possible to get testosterone injections. The FDA classifies the hormone as a controlled substance, so it’s more tightly regulated than, say Viagra. Testosterone products sold over the Internet are not reliable and should not be taken.


Testosterone deserves its reputation as the male hormone. While women make testosterone too, only in much smaller amounts. A male fetus starts producing it seven weeks after conception. The adolescent surge changes the voice of a teenage boy, makes his muscles fill out, and stimulated his sex drive. In adult men, the hormone plays a role in maintaining muscle mass and strength, fat distribution, bone strength and red blood cell production, as well as libido and sperm production. And yes, a metabolite of testosterone does promote baldness, although testosterone treatments do not.


If you would like more information on male hormone therapy, call today (775) 787-8300.

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