Commercials for testosterone treatment make it all look so easy: "Are you feeling a weird drop in your sex drive? Maybe a little tired, a bit out of sorts, not-quite-yourself? Don’t worry -- just get your hands on some testosterone!"
By Ty Wenger
Fifteen years ago, I found myself in a romantic pickle: Cheryl, a woman I had been dating for about three months, was nearing her 25th birthday. The birthday gift in any three-month-old relationship is a dicey one, and I deliberated over it for weeks. Too big too soon and it could look like I was trying too hard. Too little and I might appear indifferent. Too romantic and I'd run the risk of setting the bar too high.
And so it was with great enthusiasm that I finally unveiled the gift...
First, talk to your doctor about how you’re feeling. It’s easy to do a quick Internet search for “low sex drive” or “low testosterone” and find a treasure trove of articles and people who are 100% sure they have the answer for you. But just because it’s out there doesn’t mean it’s accurate or complete. Even if it is, it still may not be what your body needs.
Many conditions have the same symptoms as low testosterone, says Ronald S. Swerdloff, MD, chief of the Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. That’s why it’s crucial to tell your doctor everything that’s happening to you.
“There are a few obvious symptoms of low testosterone, like a decrease in libido, and a decrease in erectile function, but there are many symptoms to consider. Explaining what you’re going through is always a good idea. There’s nothing bad in talking to your doctor about what’s bothering you,” he says.
Who Should Get Testosterone Therapy?
Low testosterone is seen as a normal part of getting older. After age 30, men’s levels drop by about 1% each year. Testosterone replacement therapy can help restore them. It’s been shown to improve not just libido and your ability to have sex, but also bone density, muscle mass, mood, thinking skills, and heart disease. Your doctor may suggest it if you’ve been diagnosed with testosterone deficiency and have erectile dysfunction or a drop in your libido.
But if you want to have kids, he probably won’t suggest the treatment. It could lead to infertility.
Also, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has only approved prescription testosterone products for men whose low T levels are caused by specific medical conditions. In other words, you can’t get them just because you’re getting older.