Most men understand that osteoporosis is a disease that could weaken the bones to the point of breaking or being susceptible to fracture. It is also mistakenly believed that osteoporosis only affects women, and not men. In fact, osteoporosis threatens more than two million men in the United States.
After age 50, about six percent of men will suffer a hip fracture due to osteoporosis. Men experience osteoporosis less often than women due to their larger skeletons and bone loss starts later in life, progresses more slowly, and they don’t have a rapid hormone change and rapid bone loss that occurs with menopause.
But it’s a growing problem among men. Most men have secondary osteoporosis, which is caused by excessive drinking, smoking, long-term steroid use, medications, gastrointestinal disease, and lifestyle changes, like poor diet, not enough sleep and a lack of physical activity. Another major cause is hypogonadism, which is basically a low level of testosterone.
This causes low bone density and increased fractures in the hip, spinal vertebrae and wrists. It is a growing problem that is costing billions of dollars a year in medical costs and lost productivity.
Doctors can detect low testosterone levels using blood tests, and can detect osteoporosis through urine tests, and special X-rays known as BMD bone marrow density studies. The BMD study uses trace amounts of radiation and is safe, accurate, fast and noninvasive.
The reduced level of testosterone, also known as the sex hormone, is a primary cause of osteoporosis. As men grow older, their testosterone levels drop. In addition to osteoporosis, low testosterone levels can impact a man’s sexual health. Low levels may also cause changes in sleep patterns, emotions and the body.
The use of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) can be helpful in preventing or slowing bone loss in men. A study done by Dr. Abraham Morgentaler from Harvard Medical School and Men’s Health Boston showed the importance of testosterone for bone health in men. The study showed improvements in bone density in men with testosterone therapy.
Other studies have shown that TRT may offer a wide range of benefits for men suffering from hypogonadism, including improved mood, sexual health, muscle mass, bone density, red blood cell production and more. Overall, risks and side effects from testosterone replacement therapy were minimal, and often can be reversed simply by discontinuing therapy.
There is no question that testosterone has a clear and direct effect on bone health. For men who are showing symptoms of hypogonadism and who have a high-calculated fracture risk may benefit from TRT.
Image Credit: Güel – Centro de Wellness Murcia | Flickr