Testing for low testosterone: Are you man enough?

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– The marketing explosion suggests the answer to drooping libido and sagging energy. But is it all fluff? The medical experts say it’s sometimes best to take it slow.

Products to fight back against a drop in testosterone surged in the last two year, but so has the awareness.

The advertisements are everywhere. They are targeted at men who feel they lost their edge, their staying power, in essence that stuff that makes a man a man: testosterone.

To find out what’s real and was a sales pitch, we went to the medical experts: Dr. Neha Gavin, an endocrinologist, and an urologist, Dr. Peter Knapp.

“It absolutely is real,” said Dr. Neha Gavin, with Witham Health.

To understand “low-T syndrome,” FOX 59 started with the basics. Testosterone is the male sex hormone that produces male sex characteristics: the deep voice, beard, muscle tone and bone strength.

“During adulthood, there`s continued need for testosterone for bone strength, muscle mass, strength, even concentration, mood, sex drive libido, sexual function,” said Dr. Gavin.

Low testosterone affects about one out of five men over the age of 40. Why?

It could be lots of reasons, including weight gain, high blood pressure or high cholesterol and other chronic illnesses. If you have low testosterone, it can mean more than just your sex drive taking a nose dive.

“Not feeling well, healthy or strong, fatigue is a common complaint, sometimes they just come in and say they don`t feel very well,” said Dr. Knapp with Urology of Indiana.

FOX 59 met with 44-year-old Jason Brock, an executive recruiter. All those symptoms hit home for Brock, who went to see his doctor, thinking his thyroid was out of whack.

“I kept telling him ‘Look, I don`t have any energy and you`re telling me to get exercise and try to lose some pounds. I don`t have energy to do anything,’” said Brock.

And it affected more than just his stamina.

“When you are at a point in your mid-40`s and you know you`re slowing down, you don`t have as much energy, you`re starting to pack on the pounds,” said Brock. “I don`t want to call it a depression, but it does bum you out.”

That`s when Brock found his testosterone was very low. He also has diabetes, which can be associated with low testosterone.

“The blood test will tell us if test is truly low or there`s some other reason they`re having symptoms,” said Dr. Gavin.

Last week, FOX 59’s Ray Cortopassi decided to test his level of testosterone.

His results…

The lab puts a normal range of testosterone at a score between 280 and 800. Dr. Kim Gatzimos with Witham Health broke the news to Cortopassi.

“Yours is 405, so you’re normal,” said Dr. Gatzimos, who said Cortopassi’s level ranges in the middle.

However, it was on the low side of average, so if he were ever to have symptoms, it’s something he would want to have checked again. The good news, it’s up from the last check in 2012.

But Brock needed a remedy now that he had a diagnosis. The medically-prescribed treatments include a cream that can be applied under the arm, topical gel, patches, a tablet that adheres to your gums or a 2-week injection.

“There are more available now and easier to be applied by patients at home,” said Dr. Knapp.

But some in the medical community worry that’s the problem–a drug looking for a disease and men who will jump to therapy to cure a problem they don’t really have.

“Not every man who feels fatigued, rundown and bad about himself has low testosterone,” said Dr. Knapp.

“Someone who feels fatigued and takes testosterone, it may not help them , it could do more harm than good,” said Dr. Gavin.

What kind of harm?

Try a decrease in sperm count, increase in blood clots, an increase in prostate size and, in extreme cases, breast development and testicle shrinkage!

“There are those side effects that you want to be aware of to determine whether they want that hormone replacement therapy and expose themselves to that kind of risk,” said Dr. Knapp.

Brock opted for the injection.

“After I started taking it, I was able to get up in the morning with a clearer vision,” said Brock. “I wasn`t falling asleep on the way to work while I was driving.”

Not every treatment will work for every patient, but for Brock it was worth a shot.

“I don’t feel like I’m 20 years old, but i feel like I can keep up with most 45 year olds.”

But here`s something else to consider: A UCLA study found that taking testosterone therapy doubled the risk of heart attack among men over the age of 65 and nearly tripled the risk in younger men with a history of heart disease.

If you have questions, suspicions or doubts, see a doctor before undergoing any kind of therapy.

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