Many people believe, mistakenly, that the testosterone clinic is reserved for infertility patients. While infertility is a major reason men seek testosterone therapy, it is far from the only one. Testosterone is a multi-faceted hormone. It affects sexual desire and muscle mass, as well as fat deposition, mood, memory and energy. It also contributes to the health of the liver, kidney and heart, as well as blood, bone marrow and hair (balding and beard growth).
Testosterone production starts to decrease while men are still in their 20s and 30s. By the age of 60, about half of all men have low T. In the testosterone clinic, this drop is called andropause. It is similar to female menopause but not as abrupt.
It’s estimated that 2.4 million men in their 40s are afflicted with low T. But the biggest fans of testosterone clinics are men in their 60s— the fastest growing cohort in the United States. Baby boomers have never accepted the status quo, and they are not about to go gently into that good night. Testosterone therapy is now a $2-billion-plus industry, and the demand at testosterone clinics is rising like Noah’s flood.
Since testosterone is available in gel form, pills, injections, transdermal patches or implants, there are a number of options at the testosterone clinic. While there are products available online, an overdose of testosterone is linked to liver damage and infertility. So it’s wise to see a medical professional who can monitor testosterone levels via regular blood tests.
Testosterone clinic starts with a blood test
Treatment at the testosterone clinic begins with a blood sample, typically drawn in the morning because testosterone production increases at night. While testosterone levels vary depending on a man’s age, a sharp drop in testosterone levels indicates a potential problem. For that reason, most testosterone clinics will ask for blood samples to be drawn at regular intervals.
At the testosterone clinic, treatment is viewed through a long-term lens. The patient is checked monthly by the following procedures and metrics:
• rectal exam
• lipid profile
• PSA test
• liver tests
• sleep apnea
• bone density test
Subjectively, the doctor needs to know if the symptoms are abating or worsening. Depending on the patient’s response, the dosage can be adjusted accordingly.
Testosterone clinics stay abreast of the research
Most testosterone clinics follow the research on andropause. For example, it was long thought that testosterone supplements could contribute to prostate cancer. New research shows that prostate cancer is not caused by testosterone therapy but it may exacerbate an existing prostate disorder. For that reason, testosterone clinics may monitor a man’s urinary patterns, and order PSA tests.
Testosterone clinics offer patients the following choices. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
- Oral (tablets) are taken several times a day, and there is a risk of liver problems (which is not true of injections or the transdermal patch). Some patients at testosterone clinics report mouth irritation or a nasty taste.
- Intramuscular injections produce the most dramatic effect, causing testosterone levels to spike. There have been reports of wild mood fluctuations. The injections are given once or twice monthly.
- A subdermal implant (which does not involve surgery) lasts three to six months. On the negative side, the implant has been known to migrate or stray from its original site. This is a popular choice at testosterone clinics, with 10% of patients opting for the implant.
- A transdermal patch on the scrotum. This method involves shaving the area each day. The patch can produce skin irritation.
- Transdermal gels are the most popular choice. On the down side, the testosterone ointment may be transferred to a man’s partner. While the gel is convenient, it carries a noticeable odor.