Top up on testosterone


Many men approaching middle age develop a paunch, go bald, have trouble sleeping, lack energy and say goodbye to sex.

It’s all part of growing old, right? Not necessarily.

Declining testosterone levels usually cause these symptoms in older men – but a goriwng number of men are turning to hormone replacement therapy (HRT), just like menopausal women.

The treatment – testosterone injections every three months – helps men who suffer from so-called age-related testosterone deficiency syndrome (TDS) or andropause or male menopause.

Regarded as the most common and cost-effective testosterone replacement therapy, the injections replace the hormones men lose over the years and restores their flagging appetite for life.

But experts warn the injections aren’t a quick fix for men who experience sexual problems or are simply low on energy.

‘‘Undiagnosed low testosterone levels have been associated with increased abdominal girth, insulin resistance and osteoporosis,’’ says Dr Hilton Kaplan, a Cape Town-based endocrinologist.

Men diagnosed with TDS will require the injection for life. But, Dr Kaplan adds, the treatment isn’t taken seriously yet and isn’t covered by medical aid.

‘‘Most medical aids don’t reimburse patients as the condition isn’t considered a legitimate medical condition warranting chronic treatment,’’ he says.

‘‘Yet low testosterone in men requiring HRT is a similar condition to that of women during menopause. It increases quality of life and can help prevent potentially serious diseases.’’

Experts caution that many of the symptoms of TDS may be associated with normal ageing and may also be side effects of medication and conditions such as thyroid problems, depression and excessive alcohol use. A blood test is the only way to diagnose low testosterone levels.

Read the full article in YOU, 4 November 2010.

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