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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Testosterone: Miracle drug or fake science?

Low testosterone. For men, these words have the same foul odor as “impotence,” “shrinkage” or “Justin Bieber.” The topic is taboo. Throughout civilization testosterone has been prized as the lifeblood of manhood, so a deficit would imply, by definition, that we are somehow less manly.
Yet despite this ancient bias, there’s now a growing push in the medical community to help diagnose low testosterone, clear up the fog of misconceptions and treat the issue with Testosterone Replacement Therapy, or TRT.
Let’s imagine that you, or, better yet, “your friend,” is experiencing the symptoms of low testosterone: fatigue, a sense of blahness, low sex drive, an iffy stiffy. Your friend could visit Dr. Alan Shindel at the UC Davis Medical Center, who would first try and identify other possible causes. “Even men with completely normal levels of testosterone can have erectile dysfunction, low sex drive or poor energy,” says Shindel, a urology specialist. “Sometimes the cause of a man’s symptoms is just life — stress, medical conditions, relationship issues, trouble at work.”
But it could be “Low T.” Testosterone, a hormone, does more than just power your sexual engine. The body uses it to help support muscle growth, strengthen bones, regulate the count of red blood cells, boost psychological well-being and promote a healthy distribution of fat. When the average man hits 30, his testosterone levels begin falling by about 1 percent each year. As the hormones decline, the body becomes less efficient. Sometimes the side effects aren’t imagined, they’re real.

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