For many, with age comes the onset of many physical and mental conditions that can negatively affect an individual’s life. Although diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s can be severely detrimental, another less severe though equally as impactful medical condition faced by aging men is low testosterone, also known as Low T.
Not to be confused with erectile dysfunction, Low T is also known as andropause—the male equivalent to menopause in women—which leads to low levels of testosterone, which, in turn, can sink a man’s confidence and derail his social life as well. Luckily, age-management specialists such as Dennis Bonner, M.D., offer programs designed to restore a man’s natural testosterone level and, in turn, restore his youthful vigor.
“Low T comes on insidiously,” explains Dr. Bonner. “The men don’t know it is happening when it starts, then all of a sudden they are experiencing all types of symptoms.”
Although Low T is a common condition found in males typically over the age of 35, certain conditions and lifestyle choices can enhance the onset of Low T. These include signal malfunctions between the brain and testicles; defects caused by medications; inflammatory disease; injured or infected testes; genetic abnormalities; iron overloads; and cancer treatments or other therapies that can be toxic to the body. Diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and asthma are additional conditions that can trigger Low T.
Starting at age 20, sources suggest, a man’s hormone levels decline between 10 percent and 20 percent with each decade. Normal levels of androgen help to maintain reproductive tissues, stimulate sperm production, maintain sexual function, increase muscle mass and strength and promote bone strength.
When these levels become noticeably low, men find themselves with a sinking libido and reduced sex drive. They also suffer from decreased energy (daily fatigue, inability to complete routine tasks), unwanted body changes (reduced muscle mass, increased body fat, decreased bone strength), mood shifts (depression and increased irritability) and sexual dysfunction.
When these symptoms combine, men often find themselves in a place that is uncomfortable and unhealthy, pining for ways to restore the energy and physique they once had. Although some men accept this as “just what happens” with age, it doesn’t have to be. This is when Dr. Bonner steps in and, through his age-management and hormone-restoration programs, is able to get these men back on the track to living the life they want.
“I had one very successful businessman—a multimillionaire—come in,” he says. “I said, ‘Do you feel that you could [make all those accomplishments] all over again in the condition you are now?’ He said he didn’t know how he got there and that he was lucky to do anything now. Six weeks after treatment I asked him again and he said, ‘Not only do I know how I got here, but I’m doing [the same business] again now.’”
This is the usual story for the typical, middle-aged man who comes through Dr. Bonner’s doors looking to take back control of his life. Once Dr. Bonner assesses each patient’s situation, he can prescribe the best method of treatment.
“We have multiple treatment programs that are determined by the testosterone levels indicated in blood work,” Dr. Bonner says. “If [the condition] is mild, we use a cream that is absorbed through the skin. You can’t take pills for it because you risk severe liver damage. The safe ways are either on the skin or with shots. We also have pellets and inserts that have a certain doses and we can get very close to the maximum allowable value.”
The cream or gel solutions are applied daily to deliver hormones continuously throughout the day. Injections, on the other hand, introduce the hormones directly into the bloodstream, while the pellets and inserts are placed under the skin during a surgical procedure and release the hormones into the body.
There are some side effects associated with hormone restoration, so Dr. Bonner and his team monitor patients very closely to make sure that certain conditions—blood thickening and clotting or pancreatic problems, for example—aren’t negatively affecting the patient’s future quality of life.
“We watch patients carefully,” he says, “and if something changes, even on an acute level, we change the levels of hormones or therapy.”
Dr. Bonner has seen this approach turn his patients’ lives around, going from depressed, overweight and unmotivated back to their energetic, toned and lively selves. Once the appropriate dosage and method of treatment are determined, patients can expect a relatively short amount of time before they start seeing improvements in the way they look and feel.
“It takes about six weeks before [patients] start to feel it and eight until it really kicks in,” he says. “The treatment has physical and cognitive manifestations, beginning with the main confidence issue. … Hormone levels define all of our body characteristics, so with an increase of testosterone your attitude is going to change, you’ll find yourself exercising more, and the rest of your life will change along with it.”
Dr. Bonner’s treatment plans are not limited to men. Besides programs to combat Low T, his practice treats women suffering from the symptoms of menopause including fatigue, hot flashes and intense mood swings. He can prescribe a variety of age management treatments to restore his patients’ vitality. These treatments are based on the comprehensive evaluation of each patient and may incorporate an exercise regime, supplemental injections of human growth hormone and other effective therapies.
For women the benefits of hormone treatment includes increased muscle mass and bone hardness. “It even prevents osteoporosis and gives patients more hydrated skin,” Dr. Bonner says. “It melts belly fat and increases muscle mass in the arms and legs. It’s a very powerful medication which can reverse the outward signs of aging.”
Of course, once a patient—male of female—has regained some of their youthful vigor through a treatment plan with Dr. Bonner, he or she often seeks to have a refreshed and more youthful appearance that complements their newfound stamina.
Also available through his office are cosmetic injectables, such as Botox, Juvederm and Restylane, which provide patients a subtle way to improve their appearance. These nonsurgical treatments can be done with little discomfort and no downtime. Thanks to the number of procedures he performs for his patients, Dr. Bonner is also able to offer competitive pricing on these injectables.
Dennis J. Bonner, M.D.
St. Clare Medical Building, Suite 120
1203 Langhorne-Newtown Road
Langhorne, PA 19047
215-375-4200 | www.bonneragemanagement.com
Photograph by Kim Billingsley