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Reviews: 'Testosterone for Life' and 'Hot Flashes, Hormones, and Your Health'

Men, are you tired? Have the "blahs"? Feel sex is too much like work? Answer yes to any of these and you need to read Testosterone for Life by Dr. Abraham Morgentaler.

The author, an associate clinical professor of urology at Harvard Medical School, has been treating what he calls low T (testosterone) in men for 20 years. Case studies and Q&As that end nine of the 10 chapters add extra touches to the extensive information. Although admitting T therapy doesn't help everyone, the founder of Men's Health Boston continues to be amazed by how it can change a man's life.

Testosterone for Life is part-DIY, for it was written to help men recognize the symptoms and determine whether they need treatment. A drop in sex drive, decrease in desire, and erectile dysfunction are common signs of low T.

But so are such non-sexual symptoms as little energy, loss of muscle strength and mass, accumulation of fat, low bone density and anemia. If low T is not due to medication, depression or aging, T therapy can benefit men's health in general. As for sex, group studies showed the therapy even helped men who failed full-dose treatment with Viagra.

Chapters six through nine focus on types of treatment (injection, patch, gel, pellet), possible side effects, and T therapy and prostate cancer. In chapter 10, Morgentaler addresses the future of testosterone, the hormone that in some eyes is still linked to male aggression.

Testosterone for Life also holds some surprising tidbits tucked amid the medical information. For instance:

• Before puberty, boys and girls have the same very low levels of testosterone in their blood.

• A transient rise in a boy's testosterone, but not in a girl, before or shortly after birth, imprints his brain to be "boylike."

• Dogs are the only other species that regularly develop prostate problems. However, Morgentaler doesn't mention any therapy for man's best friend.

'Hot Flashes, Hormones & Your Health'

Women have their turn at midlife sex crises and hormone therapy with the book Hot Flashes, Hormones & Your Health: Breakthrough Findings to Help You Sail Through Menopause, by Dr. JoAnn E. Manson with Shari Bassuk.

Manson, who is a Harvard Medical School professor of medicine, chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and co-director of the Connors Center for Women's Health and Gender Biology, gives solid advice on the benefits and risks of hormone therapy during menopause.

Sooner or later all women become familiar, in one degree or another, with the hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia and up and down mood swings that remind her of her teen years. The estrogen and progesterone first identified as female sex hormones in the 1920s are in disarray.

Painful intercourse from vaginal dryness and shrinkage may join a poor body image, fatigue and decrease in sensation leading to low sexual desire. If she's read Feminine Forever, the late '60s bestseller by 71-year-old gynecologist Dr. Robert Wilson, she's haunted by both the "use it or lose it" syndrome and turning into a dried-up shrew. It's enough to make any woman rush for estrogen replacement, and Premarin soon became the hormone therapy of choice.

Unfortunately estrogen replacement was associated with endometrial cancer, and in 1975, sales of Premarin plummeted. They climbed again when estrogen was combined with progesterone, now known as Prempro. Along with relief of menopausal symptoms, doctors began prescribing it as preventive therapy for such aging diseases as thinning and weakening bones, heart disease and atherosclerosis. The threat of breast cancer ended that marketing attempt.

These on and off, benefit vs. risk, results have continued over the years. Trials slated to end in 2005 were halted in 2002 when there was a 29 percent increase in heart attacks, yet the Prempro group showed fewer fractures and cases of colon cancer. Estrogen-only trials stopped in 2004 when they showed less risk in heart disease but greater risk of stroke. Manson, who served as lead investigator on the extensive study done by Women's Health Initiative, says the trials were not entirely conclusive; aside from testing only standard dose Premarin and Prempro pills, most participants were in their 60s and 70s. She feels hormone therapy is mostly beneficial to women closer to the onset of menopause.

In hormone therapy, treatment with estrogen, progesterone and testosterone includes patches, pills, gels and devices that help combat vaginal changes. Q&As, charts, lists, graphs, statistics and case studies help women fill out their own health profile and decide if hormone therapy is right for them.

Adele Woodyard is co-author of the eBook "100 Florida 'Freebies' and 'Cheapies' Vacation Fun for $5 or Less." See her Web site at


His and hers

• Testosterone for Life, by Abraham Morgentaler, M.D., McGraw-Hill paper, 196 pages, $16.95.

• Hot Flashes, Hormones & Your Health by JoAnn E. Manson, M.D., with Shari Bassuk, Sc.D., McGraw-Hill, paperback 270 pages, $16.95.

Reviews: 'Testosterone for Life' and 'Hot Flashes, Hormones, and Your Health' 02/23/09 [Last modified: Monday, February 23, 2009 9:53am]
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