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Testosterone therapy: Most men won't need it

5:57 PM, Jun 19, 2013   |    comments
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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- They may not admit it but many men are willing to do whatever it takes to look and feel younger.

It's why testosterone replacement therapy went from a $14 million industry in 2011 to a $107 million industry 2012, according Consumer Reports.

"There seems to be a bit of an increase and I'm sure it comes from publicity from advertisements," says urologist, Dr. Philip Wise with Urology Consultants in Grand Rapids. He tests most of his patients for low testosterone if they have the symptoms, like low energy, difficulty sleeping, and weight gain.

"It's nice to know you might feel better especially if you have any of the symptoms of depression or erectile dysfunction," says Wise.

As men age their testosterone does decline but Dr. Wise says the number of men who need testosterone therapy is very small. "Most of the time they come in with the complaints and their testosterone is normal."

Normal levels can be anywhere from 300 to 1000, a pretty wide range.

Pharmacist Mary PreFontaine with Keystone Pharmacy in Grand Rapids develops tailored testosterone therapies for men. She would like to see all men get a baseline test in their 20s. "What if they drop dramatically but they're still in the normal range?"

But Dr. Wise says that's not practical because testosterone levels peak several times a day and you would need more than just one test. "I don't think America is quite ready for that yet."

And PreFontaine says there's an easy way to tell if you're still in the normal range. "Most men with adequate amounts of testosterone have an erection every morning."

PreFontaine also warns about the side effects testosterone supplements can have not on men but on women and children. "I've seen transference." Transference occurs when testosterone is absorbed through the skin by another individual. It can cause hair growth and acne.

But there's a simple way to prevent it. "As long as there's a cloth barrier between them and somebody else, they're not going to transfer it," says PreFontaine.

There's a lot to consider when it comes to testosterone therapy, including whether or not you still want to have children. Testosterone therapy can lower sperm count.

And then there's the price which can cost upwards of $570 a month.

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