Testosterone therapy has rapidly become a cornerstone of the emerging hormone replacement therapy market, seeing dramatic increases in the last decade. According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, prescription of testosterone therapy has risen three fold. More and more men – and even women – are seeking testosterone replacement therapy to address aging woes, such as weight gain, muscle loss and low energy.
The emerging trend has led drug manufacturers and health industry experts to push testosterone pellets, injections, pills, patches, gels and creams of varying quality on an unsuspecting public. Just as the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) raised fears over hormone replacement therapy among women, a new study from the Journal of the American Medical Association has men reconsidering the cost of their virility.
But, much like the WHI scare, the trouble is not testosterone therapy itself; it is the expertise with which it is administered and the quality of the product and delivery method. Failure to get adequate testing and not seeking certified medical experts in hormone therapy can result in a very rocky path when it comes to hormone management.
Hot trends, like the current mass appeal of testosterone therapy, cause an upsurge of inferior products and administration by less than qualified individuals for a quick buck. Television, radio, magazine and billboard advertisements promise miracles from testosterone therapy. Online quizzes designed by marketers point to testosterone as the solution to all your woes. And this may be the case for some men and women, but the truth is that not every man or woman needs to be on testosterone therapy. Weight gain, sleepless nights, low energy and other woes of aging can occur for a variety of reasons.
Physicians that truly specialize in hormones and hormone replacement therapy know that comprehensive lab testing and thorough consultations are essential to determining why certain individuals are struggling with age-related concerns and what the best treatment solution may be. Careful monitoring of hormone levels and adjustments are necessary every three to six months. Hormones are not safe for use at the discretion of the consumer – hormones affect nearly every reaction in the body, meaning great care and expertise is vital to optimal outcomes.
How do you know when testosterone therapy is safe?
Research continues to determine if the benefits outweigh the risk for the majority of the population. Most major medical organizations now agree that hormone replacement therapy is the best treatment for women suffering from menopause, but these industry leaders urge women to seek treatment from certified professionals and avoid over-the-counter drugs claiming to be effective hormone therapy.
If you have been experiencing signs and symptoms you believe are related to low testosterone or aging, use this list to guide you to a solution that is safe and will offer you effective outcomes for your lifelong health:
• Recognize marketing as marketing. Learn the difference between good marketing and prescribed needs. An online quiz cannot accurately diagnose your issues, and some websites present fiction as fact. Look for peer-reviewed studies from major medical journals.
• Find an expert. You wouldn’t go to your dentist for an oil change any more than you would see your mechanic for a medical check-up. If you seek hormone therapy, get treatment from a physician that specializes in hormones and hormone therapy. Advanced training and certification in the field are essential to making the right diagnosis and delivery of treatment options.
• Get comprehensive lab testing. Blood draws, urine samples and saliva testing are the most common methods for assessing various hormone levels. Each of these body fluids offer varying markers that indicate an imbalance. Have your tests evaluated by an expert specializing in hormone therapy and don’t be afraid to seek second opinions.
• Discuss your symptoms. Lab results are one thing, but symptoms are another piece of the puzzle. Make sure your physician spends time with you discussing your symptoms and correlating those with your lab results. Your health is highly personal, so your treatment plan should be equally personalized.
Ask lots of questions and understand all the risks and benefits of your treatment plan – for the sake of your health and safety.
This post originally appeared here, by Dr. Jennifer Landa