The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism has closely examined effects of hormone replacement therapy (for low testosterone) in a recent study. Researchers investigated the correlations between heart disease and low testosterone. Although the findings indicated there was indeed a link (but needed more study), the authors of the study also noted that men are– now more commonly than ever before in history– seeking help for low testosterone levels. Many men are not only having their levels tested, but they are seeking hormone replacement therapy if levels are too low.
Many doctors will automatically check hormone levels if the symptoms could at all be related to low testosterone. Since many conditions (such as erectile dysfunction, side effects from medications, depression, etc) can mimic low testosterone, it does not seem like such a bad idea for doctors to check those levels of hormones. Yet many people still think the practice of checking a man’s hormones is becoming too widespread. Why is that?
After all, it is common practice for women’s hormone levels to be checked. On the other hand, it is widely known that many women are misdiagnosed with thyroid conditions, anxiety problems, sleep disturbances, depression, and other conditions when, in fact, perhaps she is having a surge in hormones. She might be experiencing a lack or depletion of a certain hormone. Hormone tests tell women whether or not they are pregnant and whether or not they are going through menopause. They also tell women whether or not they need hormones before or after menopause.
Yet to think of a man having a hormone test is something that the general public seems to find unsettling. Is this because, as a society we do not want to believe that men can experience hormonal disturbances? Is it still a taboo topic for us since men should be “mighty” no matter what?
The answer to whether or not a man should have his hormones tested is a personal one. Yet the human body is a lot like a machine. It can have parts that do not work the way they should. And when one part is not working correctly, it can often impact the ways in which other parts of the body function. This reasoning states that men should be tested for hormonal imbalances.
The aforementioned study in Belgium suggested that question have risen about whether or not hormone replacement therapy for men could potentially be harmful to one’s cardiovascular health. Like many other forms of treatment, it is relatively new and has not been around long enough for us to know how a person (or his or her offspring) might be affected decades from receiving treatment.
However, patients can rest soundly in the truth that no solid evidence exists linking hormone replacement therapy in men to heart attacks and only slightly indicated there might be a miniscule chance of having a stroke while in treatment.
The truth is that the studies did not take into consideration what other factors could have caused the test participants to experience something like hardening of the arteries or stroke. Could they have already been living an unhealthy lifestyle? While it would be unwise to speculate in this article, one can easily see that if only a tiny number of people experienced any sort of problem while in treatment (and no other precursors were studied or recorded) then those problems might not have had anything to do with the hormones. In fact, they probably did not have anything at all to do with it.
Dr. Johannes Ruige of Ghent University Hospital said, “Gas still remain in our understanding of low testosterone and cardiovascular disease. Ultimately, the goal is to more accurately assess the impacted testosterone substitution therapy may have on the hart health of men who qualify for the treatment.”
For now, however, there is little research to work with and there are many men with low testosterone. While all research is noble and even necessary, and while people deserve definite answers to questions such as these, signs point to the fact that hormone replacement therapy is better than not for treating low testosterone. There are definite links of untreated Low T to damaging conditions… and little to no evidence of the contrary. It would be better to consider taking hormone replacement therapy than risk the things that go along with low testosterone. Obviously one day there will be more answers in place to some of society’s more complex questions. But as researchers have given it a fairly great shot thus far, nothing earth shattering has proven that men need to stay away from testosterone replacement therapy.