As men grow older, their levels of the hormone testosterone can decline, affecting muscle tone, energy and libido. Now, many men are starting to take testosterone supplements in an effort to turn back the clock. But is it safe? Not always, Dr. David Samadi, vice chairman of the Department of Urology and Chief of Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, tells Newsmax Health.
Lots of publicity today about testosterone has spotlighted the hormone as a panacea against the aging process for men, Dr. Samadi says, and with good reason.
“Testosterone really is the fuel for men,” he explains. “It’s the source of energy. It’s great for bone density, for muscle mass. It’s the reason for sex drive and libido, and that’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to really stay on top of it.”
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But taking it as a supplement is not right for everyone, particularly for men with a history of prostate cancer or elevated prostate-specific antigen levels, he says. Testosterone feeds prostate cancer cells, so the question of whether men at risk for prostate cancer or a recurrence of the disease should take testosterone garners much debate in the medical community.
“It really depends on the patient,” Dr. Samadi says. “…It depends on how low the testosterone is, what the symptoms are, and it’s a discussion with the patient.”
Testosterone levels in men peak at age 40 and drop by 1 percent a year after that. At around the ages of 55 to 60, male menopause can typically hit, resulting in low testosterone levels and a decline in libido and drive to do much of anything. For some men, the condition can lead to depression as well as weight gain — testosterone plays a role in fat distribution.
“It’s the same phenomenon that women go through except menopause in women is really abrupt and they get to age 50-55 and menopause hits them hard,” Dr. Samadi explains. “With men, it’s very gradual, and that’s one of the reasons why they don’t really feel that pace.”
Men can find out their total testosterone levels by having a test, preferably as close as possible to 5 a.m., when daily levels peak. Results would range between a low of 300 and a high of 1,000, he says.
Levels fluctuate “during the day, so if your first testosterone [level] is not normal you should always get a second one and make sure that it’s normal,” Dr. Samadi says.
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