Hormone Replacement Therapy for Low Testosterone Levels
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Can Men With Low Testosterone Benefit From Hormone Replacement Therapy?

As you consider speaking with your physician about hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to bring out a more youthful side of yourself, please understand the risks and benefits associated with this therapy before making such a decision.

What is Low Testosterone?

Testosterone is a male hormone that is produced in the testicles. These hormone levels typically peak during adolescence and early adulthood and later decline gradually as you age. After a man reaches the age of 30 or 40 his levels can decline by one percent per year. This essential hormone helps men maintain the following:

  • Muscle strength and mass
  • Facial and body hair
  • Sexual health
  • Sperm production
  • Bone density
  • Fat distribution
  • Red blood cell production

Possible Causes

To be presented with successful treatment options, you should first have the cause of your low hormone levels identified. In addition to the natural process of aging, this can also be caused by hypogonadism. Hypogonadism is a disease, which affects the body’s ability to produce normal amounts of testosterone. This may be the result of a problem with either the testicles or the pituitary gland, which controls the testicles.

Low hormone levels can also be caused by other underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, depression, thyroid problems, obstructive sleep apnea, and medication side effects. Proper treatment of these conditions can raise hormone levels. With that said, it is necessary to identify the specific cause before seeking replacement therapy.

Symptoms You May Be Experiencing

Whether the cause of your low hormone level is a result of the aging process, hypogonadism, or other medical conditions, the symptoms you may experience include the following:

  • Decreased motivation or self-confidence
  • Sadness
  • Difficulty concentrating and memory problems
  • Insomnia or sleep disturbances
  • An increase in body fat
  • Decreased muscle mass and strength
  • Decreased bone density
  • Breast swelling or tenderness
  • Loss of body hair
  • Fatigue or decreased energy levels
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Decreased sexual desire

Treatment with Hormone Replacement Therapy

HRT can reverse the effects of hypogonadism, however, whether this therapy has any benefits for older, healthy men is still unclear. Some men claim that hormone replacement has helped them feel younger and more energetic as they age, but it is difficult to scientifically confirm this claim as few studies have been done involving men with healthy hormone levels.

If you are advised by your physician to begin HRT, you will likely be presented with the following options:

  • Hormone replacement every two to three weeks via muscular injection.
  • Hormone patches to be worn daily, rotating applications between arms, abdomen, buttocks, or your back.
  • Hormone gels that you can apply topically to your arms, shoulders, and abdomen.

Do Health Benefits of Replacement Therapy Outweigh the Risks?

HRT doesn’t come without side effects. Some side effects of this therapy are fairly minor while others can be more serious.

Minor Side Effects:

  • Acne
  • Increased urination
  • Fluid retention

More Serious Side Effects:

  • Decreased testicle size
  • Breast enlargement
  • Changes in cholesterol levels
  • Increases in red blood cells
  • Decreased sperm count
  • Infertility
  • Worsening of sleep apnea, if already present

Alternative Treatment Options

If you are experiencing symptoms related to low levels of this male hormone, but are hesitant to begin replacement therapy, you do have other options. Here are five ways you can naturally boost your hormone levels:

#1 – Get a Good Night’s Rest

A research study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that hormone levels of healthy, young men can be greatly reduced by lack of sleep. Participants also reported a decrease in their sense of wellbeing as hormone levels declined. Men’s health is at its best when receiving between seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

#2 – Weight Loss

Studies have shown a link between hormone levels and diabetes. Men who maintain a healthy weight are less at risk for the development of diabetes and hypogonadism. A healthy diet with sufficient amounts of protein can also maintain muscle health.

#3 – Zinc Supplementation

Previous studies have revealed that zinc is an important factor in the regulation of hormone levels in healthy men. Men should aim to receive 11 mg of zinc daily. This may be from diet or supplements. Food sources of zinc include whole grains, lobster, crab, beans, and nuts.

#4 – Limit Intake of Sugar

The Endocrine Society has reported that glucose (sugar) can decrease hormone levels by as much as 25 percent. This was true for all men studied whether they had normal glucose levels, prediabetes, or diabetes.

#5 – Get Enough Exercise

Fitness experts recommend that to receive optimal results a man should exercise 30 minutes daily. After exercising, especially resistance training, a man’s total hormone level increases. Low hormone levels can also affect your mood and libido. Exercise can decrease those effects as it elevates your mood and stimulates chemicals within the brain to help you feel happier. It is also effective in boosting your energy and endurance, and promoting better sleep.

The number of men choosing HRT in attempt to reverse the natural age-related decrease of hormones is increasing. Research lacks evidence to support this as the best treatment option. Alternatives that are safer for fighting symptoms of aging include exercise to improve muscle health and walking to maintain heart health.

Remember to talk to your physician about your options. A health care professional is there to guide you in making the best decision for yourself.

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