Testosterone is central to a man’s well-being and vitality. Over the past few years, there has been some controversy surrounding the use of testosterone replacement therapy in men suffering from testosterone deficiency (also known as low T or andropause). With so much conflicting information, it’s difficult for a male patient to make decisions about his health.

What is testosterone? 

Testosterone is a naturally produced hormone that is involved in the development of male sex organs before birth, and the development of secondary sex characteristics at puberty, such as voice deepening, increased penis and testes size, and growth of facial and body hair. The hormone also plays a role in sex drive, sperm production, fat distribution, red cell production, and maintenance of muscle strength and mass.

As men age, natural testosterone levels decrease leaving many men with unpleasant symptoms such as sluggishness, lack of concentration, weight gain, reduced muscle mass, low libido and other sexual performance issues. Low testosterone levels are linked to obesity, Type 2 diabetes and an increased incidence of heart attack and stroke.

FDA Black Box warning

In 2013 headlines surfaced declaring that testosterone replacement caused an increased risk of heart attack in men. This is a result of a FDA Black Box warning label placed on some testosterone supplements and prescriptions. What wasn’t fully explained to consumers were that these warnings were specific to synthetic testosterone replacement, not bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. Since that time, these studies have been proven to be flawed and limited.

Not all testosterone replacement is equal

When a patient hears about testosterone replacement they don’t typically understand there’s a difference between synthetic and bio-identical replacement therapy.

Synthetic testosterone is an anabolic steroid that does not closely mimic testosterone naturally produced by the body. Synthetic testosterone is typically delivered via injections, patches or other forms. This type of testosterone replacement can be very dangerous and is associated with side effects such as high cholesterol and increased risk of heart attack.

Bio-identical testosterone is an exact molecular match to what your body once made. And, bio-identical testosterone replacement is shown to actually be heart protective. In fact, a clinical study published in 2015 showed that men treated with bio-identical testosterone had a 24% reduction in heart attacks and a 36% reduced risk of strokes. Bio-identical hormone replacement testosterone is typically delivered via creams, pellets and other methods.

Not all delivery methods are equal  

When it comes to bio-identical testosterone replacement in men, we have found bio-identical pellet therapy to be the superior choice. Bio-identical pellets work physiologically to release testosterone when the body needs it. Because pellets work with the body’s natural cardiac output, the release of testosterone is directly correlated to what the patient needs when he needs it. For example, when a patient is sleeping, the release of testosterone into the body is low. When he’s active — such as exercising or in a sexual situation — the release of testosterone will naturally increase. This prevents patients from experiencing the highs and lows that are typically noticed with injections, creams and other methods.

How do pellets work

When a patient is experiencing symptoms of low testosterone, we begin with an office visit and lab work. After better understanding the patient’s symptoms, lab levels and medical history, we are able to properly dose the patient. This thorough review also allows us to identify any underlying issues, such as prostate issues, to ensure testosterone replacement is a safe choice for the patient. Our office uses SottoPelle®, a proprietary, pellet-based individualized bio-identical hormone delivery system. The patient then returns for his pellet insertion. Each hormone pellet is slipped painlessly under the skin, in the buttocks. A mild, local anesthetic is used and the procedure is very quick. Once the pellet is inserted, a steady, low dose of natural hormone flows directly into the blood stream whenever your body needs it. Patients then repeat blood work approximately one month following insertion to ensure adequate response. Male pellet therapy typically lasts 6-7 months at which time the patient returns for a re-insertion.

In conclusion

Bio-identical testosterone replacement therapy can improve a man’s health and vitality by safely restoring testosterone levels. Healthy testosterone levels, achieved through bio-identical hormone replacement, can help men improve energy levels, sexual function and body composition; and reduce a man’s risk for heart attack, stroke and type 2 diabetes. It’s important for any man considering hormone replacement to be seen by a medical provider who specializes in bio-identical hormone replacement. To setup your office visit, call the hormone experts at Mirabile M.D. 913.888.7546.