Health Team

Male hormone problems often go undiagnosed or over-treated

Posted May 2, 2012 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated May 2, 2012 6:34 p.m. EDT

— About 30 percent of men aged 40 to 60 have low testosterone levels, a problem that can impact many areas of their lives. Hormone issues in men are often not diagnosed, or if they are, the problem is sometimes over-treated.

"Not every man with low testosterone needs to be treated; only men that are symptomatic," said Dr. Sam Chawla, a urologist at WakeMed.

Symptoms often include low sex drive, lack of energy, difficulty exercising and difficulty staying focused--all of which Charles Fleischmann, 55, experienced.

"I was losing hope. There were a lot of things going on and I couldn't find answers," he said.

Based on his symptoms, one doctor treated Fleischmann for depression. He then went to Dr. Chawla, who ordered a blood test that revealed his low testosterone levels. Since then, he has been receiving individualized hormone replacement treatments, which reduces the risk of over-treatment.

"Patients with too high a testosterone level after replacement can feel irritable, moody, angry and just overall jittery," Dr. Chawla said.

There are many types of FDA approved medications available that treat low testosterone, including gels, creams, injections and implants. Fleischmann decided on implants, as they offer consistent results over a longer period of time.

"(I have) a lot more energy, focus. I can exercise more. My love life with my wife is better. (I am) just generally happier, (I have) more energy, more joy of life," Fleischmann said.

Using only FDA approved medications and seeing a physician in person for testosterone treatment is recommended. Health risks involved with testosterone treatment include prostate cancer and blood clots, so careful monitoring and screening by a doctor is best.