BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Low testosterone may be to blame for men who have noticed their energy levels dropping or others who have been acting sad or even grumpy.
When Karl Rothermel was in his mid 30s, he says he felt rundown instead of feeling in his prime.
"I was 35 and I was saying, 'Why am I so tired? Why are these things happening?'" said Rothermel.
Rothermel went to his primary care physician and listed off his symptoms, which included extreme fatigue, weight gain and depression. A blood test revealed he was suffering from low testosterone.
"The most common symptom I see in this practice for testosterone deficiency is fatigue," said Dr. Curtis Chastain, an internal medicine specialist.
If Rothermel's story sounds familiar, it could be because you or your loved one are one of the two to six million men living with low T. Testosterone is the male hormone responsible for energy, red blood cell production, muscle mass, sex drive and more. As men age, testosterone levels naturally drop. However, Chastain explained that in some cases, testosterone levels may drop too much too soon.
"At least daily, somebody comes in the office asking me to check their testosterone levels. I think it's becoming a much bigger prescribed drug than ever before," Chastain added.
A blood test is used to diagnose low T. Treatment options include regular shots given in a clinic, a topical daily gel or even a pellet implanted under the skin that delivers medicine for up to four months. Chastain said treatment is a big commitment for the patient and must be individualized to the patient's need.
"That opens up a big discussion. We have to talk about everything related to his life. We have to talk about, 'Do you want to get on this?' because invariably, it's a lifelong therapy," Chastain explained.
Chastain said testosterone therapy is not for men who have a history of prostate cancer or men who are still planning to have children, as it can lower sperm count. He also noted that it is important to only restore levels to what is considered medically normal in order to avoid any adverse side effects. It is also important that women or children are not exposed to the medicine.
Chastain recommends men undergoing low T therapy have their prostate and PSA checked at least twice a year. The FDA is currently looking into the risk of stroke, heart attacks and blood clots with testosterone therapy. However, the FDA has not concluded that using approved, doctor-guided testosterone products increases that risk.
Now 51, Rothermel receives shots every two weeks. He said the difference is unbelievable.
"I can wake up and I'm refreshed. I'm not exhausted and I have energy to work all day long," Rothermel said.
Your doctor can help you decide if low T therapy is right for you.