Testosterone therapy after testicular cancer

Testosterone therapy is a consideration for many men and their doctor’s after the removal of testicles due to cancer, torsion, injury or in an extreme STI situation.  Testosterone is the primary sex hormone found in men and is also an anabolic steroid. It is paramount in the development of testis, the prostate and sperm production.  As secondary sexual characteristics, testosterone helps promote growth of body hair as well as denser muscle and bone mass.  Sex-drive and mental health also go hand in hand with healthy testosterone production, but like Dr. Dean Elterman says in our Balls documentary, “There is a range of normal for everything, and too much of a good thing, is a bad thing”. More is not necessarily better.

Dr. Dean Elterman discusses testosterone
Dr. Dean Elterman explains testosterone’s function in the male body.

Body builders might use anabolic steroids to help increase their muscle mass, and it works. That said, prolonged and overuse of anabolic steroids can lead to a complete shut down of natural testosterone production in the body with the end result being testicular atrophy, thus forcing these men to rely on testosterone hormone therapy for the rest of their lives. The damage is irreversible.

Bodybuilding with steroid use.
Many bodybuilders use steroids in pursuit of their physical ideal.

Interestingly enough, testosterone is also produced in female ovaries, but to a lesser extent.  The average adult male will produce about 8 times more testosterone compared to the average female.

A bodybuilder administering a self-dosage of steroids.
A bodybuilder administering a self-dosage of steroids.

Some might even venture to say that testosterone therapy is the fountain of youth for aging men. After the age of 35, men lose about 1 percent of testosterone production every year.  This is a natural part of a male’s physiology.  As a result of declining testosterone, men might experience: reduced sexual desire, sleep disturbances (like insomnia), physical changes (like increased body fat, reduced muscle density and strength, hair loss, gynecomastia, lethargy and changes in mental health (like depression, low self-confidence, trouble concentrating and memory loss).  Though testosterone therapy can help reverse the effects of hypogonadism (an actual hormonal disease that effects testosterone production in the testicles or the pituitary gland), there is little evidence that testosterone therapy for older men, who are otherwise healthy, is of any benefit.  Quite frankly, until we can actually reverse the effects of aging, the degradation of the body and mind is a natural function of being alive.  Instead of chasing the fountain of youth, as a culture we need to accept and prepare for the process of death.  It will happen to all us.  This is a healthier and much needed approach.

Shawn discusses testosterone therapy with Dr. Dean Elterman.
Shawn discusses testosterone therapy with Dr. Dean Elterman.

Shawn, who has suffered through hypogonadism, cancer and erectile dysfunction, needed testosterone therapy on his path to healing and recovery.
 
Shawn is very courageous to share his long and involved testicular journey with us.  Like Peter, not only has Shawn had BOTH his testicles removed (replaced by 2 prosthetic testicles) because of cancer, but he has also had a penile implant.  Because Shawn is now unable to produce any testosterone, he is using testosterone gel.  Though testosterone shots are covered by OHIP (Ontario Health Plan in Canada), he found them painful and inconvenient.

Instead, he opted for the gel (at a cost of $150/month), which is easier to manage and as simple to apply as body cream.  Shawn jokingly calls himself the bionic man.  His openness and honestly to reveal his process is beautiful, especially that his story ends on such a positive note.
 
I don’t want to reveal too much about Shawn’s fascinating story.  Instead, sit back and watch the documentary episode about him.  It’s quite inspiring.

WATCH the unblurred, unbleeped, balls out version here:

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/balls

Amazon: http://a.co/2F4txPh

Border2Border Entertainment: http://bit.ly/2xoSpjW

~ Nico Stagias, Balls documentary director

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