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General Medical Questions
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Question : I am 79 and generally healthy for my age. How do I know if I need to take testosterone?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications. He is a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine has been a primary care internist and teacher of internal medicine since 1978.

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June 27, 2014
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Experts are trying to understand which men really need treatment with testosterone.

Men whose testicles make no testosterone need treatment. Doctors won’t hesitate to treat men with a low blood level and classic symptoms of low testosterone.

Classic symptoms include low sex drive and more, including:

  • Low sperm count
  • Loss of body hair
  • Hot flashes
  • Low bone density

Few men fit the classic picture.

Most men wondering about testosterone have non-specific symptoms. Less interest in sex is the most common one.

Other symptoms you might be experiencing include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling down
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Lower energy level
  • Less "get up and go"
  • Decreased muscle mass

These symptoms may or may not be related to low testosterone. Some men with at least one of these symptoms have low testosterone levels. But many others with one or more of these symptoms have normal levels.

Even if your testosterone level is low, it's possible that these symptoms might be due to depression, low thyroid function or some other medical problem. And that should be considered first.

Testosterone therapy carries risks. The FDA just issued a new warning about an increased risk of blood clots in veins related to testosterone therapy. This is in addition to prior concerns about a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.

Talk with your doctor about the potential benefits versus the risks. If the balance tips in favor of you moving forward, then trying testosterone is a reasonable thing to do.

 

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