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Testosterone Deficiency: The Biggest Blind Spot in American Medicine

a man holds his head while sitting on a sofa

As most people have experienced, the American healthcare system focuses primarily on treating the illness or disease rather than preventing it. This is not completely unreasonable, as when an individual sees an odd mole on their skin, they will expect the doctor to treat their skin cancer. A convincing case, however, can be made that preventative care is just as important as treatment, which puts more responsibility on the patient to make healthy lifestyle choices. However, a question arises: who bears responsibility when patients develop conditions in part because the medical community is not doing enough to raise awareness of them?

Approximately 39% of men 45 years and older in America have hypogonadism or low testosterone levels, yet very few are aware of their condition. That is a significant percentage of men who are impacted daily by low libido, lower muscle mass, decreased bone density, fatigue, low energy, weight gain, depression, and anxiety.

These symptoms alone are enough to disrupt the quality of a person’s life, but consider this: inadequate testosterone levels can lead to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, fatty liver disease, and others.

A man who is hypogonadal and undiagnosed will, at best, struggle with symptoms that affect the quality of his life and, at worst, develop potentially fatal diseases. Our healthcare system says, in effect, that the blame lies with the patient, as he should have made healthier food choices or worked harder to regulate his stress levels. Generally speaking, perhaps there is some element of truth here, as adults can choose to avoid processed foods or to exercise daily.

Even so, that still leaves the potential culpability of the United States’ healthcare system. To state the obvious, doctors go to medical school for a reason: to learn everything they can about the human body and to then use their knowledge to help patients, who only know or understand what doctors tell them. Are physicians doing everything they can to both educate men and their families about the signs of low testosterone and to screen patients for the condition? If the majority of hypogonadal men in America are unaware of their condition and we assume that most seek relief for their symptoms at some point, then it suggests there is a problem with how doctors are assessing patients.

While a shift in how physicians screen for hypogonadism and educate their parents would be beneficial, a more effective approach could lie with men themselves. After all, the majority see a doctor only a few times a year, at most, so focusing on the hundreds of days in between could be advantageous.

Consider Base Healthcare, the company that has created a men’s health virtual platform that focuses on two main goals: using smartphone-based, body/face scanning technology to improve members’ understanding of hypogonadism and to provide insights into their foundational health. The company’s leadership hopes that through the data provided on a member’s body composition, body circumference, blood pressure, respiration rate, and other health vitals, the person will improve their understanding of how their sleep, stress levels, nutrition, and exercise habits impact their health.

Base Healthcare has also innovated a new treatment for low testosterone, one that eliminates the need for uncomfortable pellets and injections and messy gels. The company’s FDA-approved Oral Testosterone Therapy is meant to introduce flexibility into the treatment regimen and to encourage men to adhere to it, potentially optimizing the outcomes of therapy.

In the fight against hypogonadism, we face two strategies that, combined, may affect the outcomes of those with low testosterone: empower the patient with education and new treatments and encourage doctors to screen more effectively for the condition. Over time, both will lead to what patients and doctors would most like to see: men across America leading healthier, more productive lives.

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