Low T

Answers for men with low testosterone

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

A vague collection of symptoms afflicting men mid-life may signal low testosterone levels. The hormone is responsible for many bodily functions and can cause a variety of unwanted symptoms.

Scott Leuthe, nurse practitioner and owner of Alembic Wellness in Depew, said that treating low testosterone is based upon the individual, but replacement therapy offers one answer. First, Leuthe discusses patients’ diet and exercise.

“Getting in better health won’t be a 100-percent fix, as there are other reasons for low testosterone, but men at this point in life are busy. Their diet isn’t what it used to be and they get trunk obesity, which lowers their testosterone level.”

While decreased testosterone starting at age 40 to 45 is normal, carrying additional weight and forgoing exercise exacerbates the problem, since staying lean and maintaining muscle mass promote testosterone.

After helping the patient improve other lifestyle factors, Leuthe looks at testosterone replacement.

“Many insurance companies won’t cover this unless it’s extremely low,” Leuthe said.

He completes a health history with patients, and performs a blood test to ensure that low testosterone is the culprit behind their symptoms. Other issues, such as endocrine system problems may be to blame. If it’s low testosterone, Leuthe prescribes testosterone replacement to bring it up to a normal level.

“They have more energy, sexual drive, and a better mood and sense of well being,” Leuthe said. “They have more energy to exercise and have better sex. It brings youthful exuberance.”

While the link between testosterone replacement and an increased risk of prostate cancer has been largely disproven, other concerns surround testosterone replacement, such as its effects on the environment.

“The FDA doesn’t like testosterone replacement for a number of reasons,” said physician Matthew Davis, medical director of Rochester Clinical Research. “It gets into the waste stream. It can negatively affect women who come in contact with it. It’s a drug that has a fair amount of abuse associated with it as far as sports. The FDA is pushing to get drug manufacturers to help men with low testosterone without giving them testosterone.”

Davis said that his organization is studying the effect of blocking an enzyme in fat cells to block the conversion of testosterone to estrogen.

“Especially in middle-age men who are fairly overweight, this blocks that conversion,” Davis said. “That’s fairly exciting.”

The study is in a fairly early phase. So far, researchers have found that by boosting the testosterone into the normal range, it helps with the symptoms like metabolism, bone mineral, muscle mass, mood disorders, low energy and libido. Instead of introducing outside testosterone to the body, the medication would help the body generate its own.

Davis said that the new therapy is four to five years away from submission to the FDA for approval.

“It is an exciting area,” Davis said. “There are a lot of other things coming along with low testosterone that aren’t replacement therapies. this is the tip of the iceberg.”

Symptoms of Low Testosterone

Scott Leuthe, nurse practitioner and owner of Alembic Wellness in Depew, listed the symptoms of low testosterone as:

• Irritability or unexplained negative mood
• Loss of motivation
• Anxiety or increased pessimism
• Increased fatigue, low energy
• Diminished sense of well-being
• Difficulty concentrating and lack of focus
• Forgetfulness and loss of memory
• Feeling that you have passed your peak
• Insomnia or poor sleep
• Joint pain
• Lacking desire (low libido) or pleasure in sex
• Decreased ability to perform sexually
• Erections that are less strong