LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -The male hormone testosterone decreases as men age. Low testosterone can contribute to many health problems, but there is a way to treat this problem.
When you hear testosterone, you probably think about how athletes have abused the hormone, but testosterone can actually benefit men because the amount of the hormone in the bloodstream decreases as they age.
"Men with low testosterone tend more to become couch potatoes. And when you are a couch potato, you increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke and plus they get fatigued and no longer have any energy," explained Dr. Richard Brittingham, an internist at Comanche County Memorial Hospital.
Dr. Brittingham says a recent study of almost 800 men who were 65 years of age and older were split into two groups. One group was given placebos and the other a testosterone gel. The subjects were measured on sexual function, overall vitality and sense of well-being. He says they found, in at least two out of three of these measures, men had a better life as a result of using testosterone replacement.
"From the age of 30 on, most men start to decline their testosterone production at a rate of one to three percent per year. So by the time a man is 50 years old, he probably has more estrogen in his body than testosterone," Dr. Brittingham explained.
Dr. Brittingham says when men hit their mid-40s, they should probably start getting their testosterone levels checked by their doctor.
"If someone has two sequential serum testosterone levels that are low and in the absence of specific disease, that would warrant a clinician seriously considering replacing testosterone for that patient," Dr. Brittingham explained.
Dr. Brittingham says male hormone replacement therapy is finally pairing up with female hormone replacement therapy, which has been used for decades. He says most men put on the therapy come back happy.
"A better sex life, a better overall sense of well-being, more muscle strength, less abdominal fat. So you can make a case that testosterone would actually lower one's risk for cardiovascular disease," Dr. Brittingham explained.
If you're a man who thinks he may have low testosterone, Dr. Brittingham suggests talking with your doctor and getting a blood test to check your testosterone levels.
In other health news, March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and the Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma in Lawton, Duncan and Altus are offering free colon cancer screening kits through the end of the month. Visit any of the three locations to pick yours up or inquire about all of your screening options.