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A: If a health insurance company is providing coverage for a medication, including testosterone replacement therapy, they determine the final cost of the product. Costs will vary from one health insurance plan to another. To determine the costs of the testosterone replacement options, the health insurance plan should be contacted. There are various options for testosterone replacement therapy including gels, injections, patches, and tablets that dissolve under the lip. All of the formulations can be effective and each has advantages and disadvantages. The most appropriate testosterone replacement therapy depends on a variety of factors, including cost, patient preference, and tolerability. Testosterone replacement gels, such as AndroGel and Testim, are very effective and easy to administer. AndroGel and Testim can be easily applied to the skin once daily. However, the gels can be irritating to the skin and AndroGel and Testim are typically quite expensive. Testosterone replacement injections, such as Depo-Testosterone (testosterone cypionate) and Delatestryl (testosterone enanthate), are usually inexpensive. The injections are given only once every one to two weeks. The major disadvantage with injectable testosterone is that testosterone levels may be difficult to control. Levels may be too high after an injection and too low before the following injection. A testosterone replacement patch, such as Androderm, is applied every night and left on for 24 hours. Androderm can be applied to the arm, back or stomach, in an area without too much hair. Androderm can cause irritation of the skin. A testosterone tablet, Striant, is placed under the upper lip against the gums and replaced every 12 hours. Striant molds to the upper gum so that eating and drinking can occur normally. The testosterone tablet can irritate the gums and cause a bitter taste and toothache. People with low testosterone should work with their doctor or healthcare provider to find a safe, effective, and affordable testosterone replacement option for them. For more specific information, consult with your doctor or pharmacist for guidance based on your health status and current medications, particularly before taking any action. Derek Dore, PharmD
Overall there is evidence that testosterone treatment increases lean body mass and reduces obesity, particularly visceral obesity, in a variety of populations including aging men. With regard to muscle changes, some studies demonstrate improvements in maximal strength but the results are inconsistent and it has not been demonstrated that these changes lead to clinically important improvements in mobility, endurance or quality of life. Studies are needed to clarify this. Changes in abdominal obesity are particularly important as visceral fat is now recognised as predisposing the metabolic syndrome, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Alterations in mood and depression are a symptom of, but not confined to, hypogonadism.1,6 Outcomes in clinical trials of the effect of testosterone treatment on mood have varied. However, there is evidence that testosterone treatment results in improvements in mood, particularly in older men with hypogonadism.7,8Similarly, although there is an established association between measures of cognitive ability and serum levels of testosterone, the benefits of testosterone treatment on cognition are less clearly established, with some studies reporting improvements in some measures of cognitive function and others failing to detect benefits.6,9-11 Although a potential role for testosterone in protecting cognitive function and preventing Alzheimer’s disease has been proposed by some researchers, confirmation from appropriately-designed clinical trials is awaited.
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Women also feel the effects of testosterone imbalance. Common knowledge holds that testosterone is just for men, but that’s not true. Low testosterone in women results in a wide variety of hard to diagnose symptoms: fatigue, anxiety, sleeplessness, depression, and weight gain are some common symptoms. These effects are commonly seen after menopause, but hormone imbalances can happen at any age. Properly balancing the body’s natural testosterone and estrogen levels prevents these symptoms.
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Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are rich in indoles, anti-cancer compounds that indirectly boost testosterone production by breaking down and flushing the system of excess estrogen, which inhibits the production of male sex hormones. As men age, their estrogen levels gradually rise, while testosterone levels fall. Indoles can help strike the balance. In one study, supplementing with indole-3-carbinol from cruciferous vegetables for just 7 days cut the estrogen hormone estradiol in half for men. Another study found indole supplementation significant increased urinary excretion of estrogens among men.
Testosterone levels generally peak during adolescence and early adulthood. As you get older, your testosterone level gradually declines — typically about 1 percent a year after age 30 or 40. It is important to determine in older men if a low testosterone level is simply due to the decline of normal aging or if it is due to a disease (hypogonadism).
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