Historically there has been concern that testosterone therapy either leads to prostate cancer or causes undiagnosed prostate cancer to progress. How did the idea that testosterone replacement isn't safe start and spread?
It's an old belief that was developed more than 70 years ago and was based on just one case. Today this view has dramatically shifted; in fact, almost the opposite is true. Data from the long-term treatment of prostate cancer and written in the guidelines of European Association of Urology shows no evidence whatsoever of this therapy leading to prostate cancer. However, testosterone replacement therapy can't be prescribed if prostate cancer has already been diagnosed, as it may accelerate the existing condition. Therefore men would need to be tested for prostate cancer before being given testosterone replacement therapy.
Having your prostate checked is recommended to any man once a year from the age of 50 onwards. Prostate cancer can exist for a long time without any symptoms, but if it's detected early, it's curable – which means regular tests are essential. Men tend to shy away from such tests, but they'e not invasive and are over quickly.
What is testosterone replacement therapy used for and what are its health benefits?
Testosterone replacement therapy is used to treat testosterone deficiency. Approximately four million South Africans are estimated to have a testosterone deficiency accross ethnic groups.
Never ignore any decline in sexual function and have your testosterone tested if you notice any of the following symptoms:
– A loss of morning erection.
– A loss of erectile function.
– Loss or decline of sexual desire.
– Low energy.
It's not neccesary to accept these symptoms or interpret them as a natural part of aging: they can be treated and your quality of life can be improved.
Low testosterone is also associated with and is a risk factor for cardiac disease and type 2 diabetes. Obesity is the leading risk for these diseases and can actively reduce testosterone production and produce oestrogen. This leads to low energy and makes it almost impossible to exercise – which aggravates the situation. With testosterone replacement therapy, though, men have been found to progressively lose weight, an unintentional but welcome side-effect. Testosterone reduction therapy can also reduce blood pressure and insulin resistance.