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Testosterone and Testosterone Replacement Therapy: What’s True and What’s Not

You’ve probably read a fair amount about testosterone or heard other guys talking about it. But how do you know whether what you’re reading or hearing is actually true?

The truth about testosterone and testosterone replacement therapy may seem interesting but largely irrelevant — until the moment when you start to suspect that your own testosterone levels may be low. At that moment, you’re likely to find yourself doing a deep dive into the internet to get information. Are your testosterone levels low because you smoked for a few years? Was that misfire in the bedroom due to low testosterone levels or emotional issues, and how could you possibly be able to tell? What about that injury you suffered playing football — could that be part of what you’re experiencing now? And how do your flagging memory and low energy levels relate to everything else going on in your body?

There are a lot of myths circulating about low testosterone. But at Boston Vitality, we believe that you deserve to know the real facts. So let’s answer some of the most common questions to determine what’s really true about low testosterone levels and testosterone replacement therapy. Once you know the truth, you’re in a position to make smart decisions — and it’s always true that knowing the facts is a good place to start.

Not True: Low Testosterone Is Rare

If you’ve noticed some of the most obvious symptoms of low testosterone in your own life — symptoms such as loss of your sex drive, erectile dysfunction, low energy levels and weight gain — you may wonder if you’re the only man facing these things. You may feel very alone. That feeling may very well keep you from talking about your symptoms and your concerns with other men. After all, if you’re the only one, isn’t it a little embarrassing?

You’re not alone. About 13 million men in the United States suffer from low testosterone levels, beginning around age 30. By age 80, more than half of men have clinically low levels of testosterone. As many as 40% of men start to experience symptoms of low testosterone by their mid-40s. The bottom line: low testosterone levels aren’t rare at all.

Not True (But Also a Little Bit True): Low Testosterone Is Normal for Older Men

So if older men are more likely to have low testosterone levels, does that make it normal? No. Not every man experiences testosterone deficiency or needs testosterone replacement therapy with age.

This myth also leads men to give up their inner desire for a vigorous life (and an equally vigorous sex life) as they age. Too many men shrug their shoulders and say to themselves, well, I had a good run, but I guess it’s over now. They assume that low energy levels, low libido, weight gain, loss of focus and other symptoms are just the price they pay for continuing to stay alive — and that’s simply not true. If low testosterone levels are causing you to feel like less of a man in any way, you don’t have to accept those feelings as a given.

But here’s one thing that is true: testosterone levels do decrease with age. In fact, testosterone production drops 1% every year for most men, beginning in their 30s. So while we can’t say that low testosterone is normal with age, we can agree that lower testosterone is normal as you get older.

What does that mean? It means that if you had your testosterone levels checked some years ago, that reading is no longer accurate. If you’re experiencing a lack of interest in sex, fatigue, difficulties with concentration or loss of muscle mass, then it could very well be time to get your testosterone levels tested again.

Not True: Masturbation and Vasectomy Can Lower Your Testosterone Levels

Here’s a story you may have heard told in locker rooms, often in hushed voices or as part of a joke. But just the fact that you’ve heard these myths speaks to the real fears that underlie them. So let’s debunk them now.

No. Masturbation doesn’t have any effect on your overall testosterone levels. In the short term, any sexual activity boosts your testosterone levels until shortly after orgasm. Other study results vary in terms of the short-term effect of testosterone levels (and by short-term, we mean a few weeks at most). But your baseline testosterone levels aren’t affected by masturbation (or by any other form of sexual activity, for that matter).

And if you’re thinking of having a vasectomy (or you already had one and are concerned), you can also breathe a sigh of relief. Because the answer is the same: no. Having a vasectomy doesn’t affect your testosterone levels, either. A vasectomy halts the flow of semen from the testicles to the urethra, but it has no effect whatsoever on the production of testosterone.

True: Low Testosterone Affects Your Sex Drive

Okay, this one is absolutely true. Many men first start suspecting that there’s something wrong with their testosterone levels because they notice that their sex drive is low. They don’t feel like themselves with a lower libido, or maybe they feel “old” for the first time. If you have noticed a precipitous drop in your sex drive or interest in sex, you should definitely head to your men’s health clinic to get your testosterone levels checked.

Not True: Low Testosterone Only Affects Your Sex Drive

It’s understandable if you think that testosterone is all and only about sex. After all, the links between testosterone and both your sexual drive and sexual performance are inarguable. But it’s not true that low testosterone levels affect only your sexual drive. In fact, low testosterone levels have a sweeping effect across your entire body — and your mind as well.

If your testosterone levels are low, you’ll notice that you get fatigued easily. You just don’t have the energy you used to have. You’ll see the effects throughout your body as your muscle mass decreases. You just don’t have the physical strength you used to have. You start to gain weight and get flabby, especially around your belly. Men with low testosterone show a greater incidence of cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure and Type 2 diabetes. And, even though you may not notice it, you’re also losing bone density, which makes you more prone to bone breakage or osteoporosis.

Low testosterone levels also affect your cognitive abilities. You’ll find yourself losing focus quickly, unable to concentrate, especially for long periods of time (and this may affect your performance at work). You may have a difficult time sleeping, compounding the feeling of being fatigued.

In addition, low testosterone levels have a profound affect on the way you feel. You may experience mood swings that you just can’t explain, harming relationships at home and work as a result. You may be irritable for no understandable reason. Many men even sink into depression as a result of low testosterone. So it’s far more than just your sex drive that’s involved with low testosterone.

Not True: Testosterone Replacement Therapy Increases Heart Disease and Prostate Cancer Risks

You may have heard this myth, but there’s just no real evidence for it. Testosterone replacement therapy doesn’t cause cancer, and it actually decreases your risk of heart disease.

The one caveat: if you already have prostate cancer, you’re not a good candidate for testosterone replacement therapy. That’s because the increased levels of testosterone can have an effect on the growth of the already-existing cancer cells. Check with your doctor before you start any treatment if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer.

True: Low Testosterone Increases Heart Disease Risks

Let’s continue with the myths surrounding testosterone levels and heart disease to introduce a fact you may not have heard. According to the Journal of the American Heart Association, low testosterone levels actually increase the risk of heart disease. Studies show that low testosterone levels are associated with increased angina, increased narrowing of carotid arteries, higher risk of cardiovascular disease, more frequent incidents of congestive heart failure, abnormal EKG readings and overall cardiac mortality.

The same studies also pointed the finger at low testosterone as a culprit in increases in Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and insulin resistance. Low testosterone also is associated with increases in belly fat and body mass index (BMI).

True: Treatment Exists for Testosterone Deficiency

The good news is that if your low sex drive, fatigue, loss of muscle mass and other symptoms are caused by low levels of testosterone, help is available. Testosterone replacement therapy is safe for most men with testosterone deficiency, as long as it’s properly administered and monitored by medical professionals. At Boston Vitality, our experts run all the needed tests to make sure testosterone replacement therapy is the right answer, and we keep an eye on your progress throughout treatment.

Not True: You Can Treat Low Testosterone All on Your Own

If you know (or suspect) that you have low testosterone levels, you may be tempted to just take care of the situation on your own. After all, you can buy testosterone supplements online, right? Doing that may sound like the simplest and most attractive option (and the fact that you never have to talk to anyone else about your problems can be appealing, too).

Don’t fall into that trap! Yes, you can find testosterone supplements online — but if you purchase them, you have no idea what you’re actually getting. Many of those unregulated supplements have been shown to contain little to no actual testosterone. And without medical supervision, you don’t know how much you should be taking. You could easily end up with high blood pressure, dangerous blood clots, and enlarged breasts from taking the wrong amounts of unregulated, over-the-internet testosterone. Being treated by licensed medical professionals, such as those at Boston Vitality, is key to staying safe and getting the treatment you actually need.

True: Testosterone Replacement Therapy Can Help Your Weight and Physique

It’s pretty well known that testosterone supplements can help bulk up your muscles. That’s not the primary purpose of testosterone replacement therapy — but it’s certainly one of its most welcome side effects. As you lose testosterone production with age, your body doesn’t burn off fat the way it used to, and you’re likely to develop a “spare tire” of fat around your belly. Testosterone replacement therapy turns around your body’s chemistry so that you burn fat as you did when you were younger, building muscle like a young man once again.

Not True: Buying Testosterone Supplements Online Is a Good Idea

It’s never a good idea to buy testosterone supplements online. Because you don’t know what you’re actually purchasing, you could be wasting your money (in some cases, a lot of money). And you’re putting yourself at real risk by taking testosterone without the medical supervision that’s provided by health care professionals, including doctor’s visits, lab tests, follow-up care and monitoring of your body’s response to supplemental testosterone.

Without blood tests to confirm that you have low testosterone, you shouldn’t be taking this hormone in the first place, as you could cause some real damage to your body. You could also be misdiagnosing yourself, missing the real reason for your symptoms and possibly failing to catch another medical problem that needs treatment. Start your testosterone replacement journey by making an appointment with a licensed health care professional who can provide the testing and personalized treatment you need and deserve.

True: Testosterone Replacement Therapy Can Help With Memory, Concentration and Energy Levels

As you’ve already seen here, low testosterone can affect far more than your sex drive and performance. The good news is that testosterone replacement therapy also addresses the other symptoms that show up with low testosterone. Once you start testosterone therapy, you’re likely to see great improvement in any issues you’ve been having with memory and concentration, and your energy levels will also enjoy a boost.

Not True: If You Have Low Testosterone, Your Doctor Would Already Have Told You

It’s easy to assume that you’d know if you had low testosterone levels. After all, wouldn’t your doctor have told you?

Maybe not. Not all men tell their doctors about the symptoms that accompany low testosterone, and not all doctors are expert enough to pick up on the meaning of the symptoms. If you haven’t been tested, there’s no way to know what your testosterone levels actually are.

That’s why, if you have any of the symptoms discussed here, you should make an appointment to get your testosterone levels checked. At Boston Vitality, we have the expertise and experience needed to help you get the answers and the solutions you’re seeking. Contact us today to make an appointment.

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