COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — You’ve seen the commercials. The hot trend is “low T,” or insufficient testosterone levels. But what is it all about?
Board certified surgeon Dr. Rina Shinn offers an inside look at this decreasing natural hormone.
“Most of us have testosterone deficiency after probably about age 35 to 40, and testosterone is absolutely needed for us to have normal functions,” Shinn said.
A simple blood or saliva check will detect testosterone levels, and perhaps the need for replacement therapy.
Testosterone is a hormone that helps regulate energy, mood, muscle mass, fat distribution, weight loss, libido, sleep cycles, depression, and other quality-of-life attributes. A “low T” diagnosis is more common for men, but it’s also affecting women–like southern Colorado businesswoman and mom Amy Gasperetti.
“By the end of the day, when I got home to the kids, they got what was left over, and that wasn’t much,” Gasperetti said.
Gasperetti said she was tired to the point of exhaustion. Even exercising made her physically ill. She said she was pushing an already-depleted body further into stress.
“What I was running on was normal for me, and I didn’t know any different because it had been like that for years,” she said.
Shinn said our busier-than-ever lifestyles and lower mortality rates contribute to the cause. Plus, we’re doing more as we age, and our bodies haven’t caught up. They’re not providing the proper balance of hormones we need longer in life.
“As a culture we’ve been expecting this lower level of functionality as a norm,” Shinn said.
“Once you find out that it is due to your low level of testosterone, or low level of hormones, and replace them, you can actually have a lot more energy, excitement, and quality of life,” Shinn said.
Treatment can happen several ways, from daily creams or patches to tablets or liquid injections. These can vary in application from daily to weekly, and frequency can depend on dosage.
Time-release pellet injections every three or four months best mimic body function. A testosterone pellet is inserted during a quick doctor’s visit–and the effects can be immediate.
“I felt like I had actually gotten a good night’s sleep,” Gasperetti said. “I was ready to get out of bed, and you’re never ready to get out of bed, right? I was actually ready to get out of bed and eager to get my day going, and I don’t remember the last time I felt like that.”
Shinn said it’s important to find a board-certified medical professional to work with, and to maintain the proper balance of hormone replacement. Too much can have negative side effects.
As for the cost, more insurances cover it for men than for women, but it’s still considered a niche treatment unless the circumstances are extreme.