Testosterone replacement therapy and “Low T” ads can be seen all over these days, from billboards to magazine ads to commercials. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry, but who really needs testosterone replacement and what’s all the hype about?
Dr. Ashley Gordon and Dr. Dustin Reid, plastic surgeons from Austin, Texas have studied hormone replacement extensively and believe the right level of testosterone may be just what the doctor ordered.
It’s Not Just for Men…
“As we get older, in our late 30’s, 40’s, and especially in the 50’s and 60’s, a large percentage of us will have decreased testosterone or decreased androgen, relative to our other hormones,” says Dr. Reid.
And it’s not just men. Once women reach menopause, guess what? Women experience the same loss of testosterone as men which is responsible for some pretty undesirable symptoms. Those symptoms can include lack of energy, loss of libido, fatigue, loss of muscle volume, and yes… weight gain. Many health and science experts now believe that it’s the loss of testosterone, and not estrogen, that causes these symptoms.
Dr. Gordon says, “Everyone thinks of estrogen and progesterone as the hormones of being female, and testosterone as the male hormone. However, what a lot of people don’t realize is that women have several fold more testosterone, than estrogen.”
Bioidentical vs. Synthetic
But before you jump on the testosterone bandwagon, there are some things you should know. “When you supplement testosterone, your body will lower its own production, temporarily,” says Reid. You should also learn what type of testosterone your doctor or clinic is delivering. Many use synthetic hormones which come with an increased risk of serious complications unlike the very low risk and increased health benefits of bioidentical hormone replacement.
“The type of bio-identical replacement we offer,” says Reid, “is bioidentical testosterone that’s made from yams and it’s in the form of a pellet, which has the highest rate of consistency in delivery. We put the pellet just under the skin, near the upper hip area. It’s then steadily broken down and released into your system.” The procedure only takes about 10 minutes, but because it’s surgical, you should always go to a board certified physician for implantation. Pellet inserts cost anywhere between $300 – $500, and because testosterone is not FDA-approved for women, it’s typically not covered by insurance.
Getting it Right
Here’s how the process works. Your blood is drawn and your symptoms are analyzed. When the lab work returns, your testosterone dose is formulated. “It’s not as simple as, ‘oh you just have a pellet and that’s all there is to it,’ we watch it very carefully and make a tailored plan for each patient,” says Reid.
“We are trying to get you to an ideal level,” states Gordon, “not an above normal level.” To get the dose exactly right you’ll need your blood work checked again and your symptoms evaluated to make sure your levels are where they need to be. Most pellets last between 3-4 months, but within days, you should start noticing a difference in some of your symptoms.