By Dr. Maria Simbra


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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Dan Gassier had a feeling something wasn’t right.

Being tired, irritable, forgetful, etc. is something many go through from time to time.

However, for guys who seem to have it a lot, it could be something more than just getting older.

The trouble is that more and more men are diagnosing themselves with something they may not have.

Dan Gassier had a feeling something wasn’t right.

“I was swimming four, five days a week and I started gaining weight. And doing all that exercise, it was unheard of,” he said.

A blood test showed it was an issue of not enough testosterone, but in many cases men self-diagnose incorrectly.

“It’s in Men’s Health Magazine, Sports Illustrated, it’s in movies, on TV, we’re surrounded by this issue of low T,” says Allegheny Health Network urologist Dr. Herman Bagga.

The symptoms can be fatigue, loss of muscle, an increase in fat, irritability, forgetfulness, decreased libido, and erectile dysfunction.

First, Dr. Bagga makes sure the symptoms aren’t from some other medical problem.

“Depression, anxiety, sleep apnea, cardiovascular disease, hypothyroid states, lack of sleep,” he said.

Then, he will look at testosterone levels, a hormone made by the testes. He considers a level below 300 low.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

If a man also has symptoms, Dr. Bagga will prescribe treatment.

It could be gels that you rub on, but it can rub off on pets and children.

Another treatment is to use a patch, but they can irritate the skin.

The more popular choices are long-acting injections, given five times a year, or long-acting pellets, implanted four times a year.

“We can actually put in little pellets, that will slowly dissolve over time, about a three to five-minute procedure,” Dr. Bagga said.

Sometimes it is a challenge to get insurance coverage, and which options are covered can vary by company.

Dr. Bagga is very concerned about the men who jump to conclusions and supplement testosterone on their own.

“There’s a lot of direct to patient advertising that’s done by testosterone companies,” he says. “[Patients] find their sources, whether it be online, et cetera, where they’ll get the injections. For whatever reason, those seem to be a little bit less regulated, or easily accessible. They’ll inject themselves, and then they’ll come to me later, because there are risks associated with that treatment.”

Risks include infertility, prostate cancer, and possibly heart attack and stroke.

“The important thing is that they come to a doctor to discuss it, before they start to self-medicate themselves,” Dr. Bagga said.

Gassier gets the pellets.

“I lost six pounds almost immediately, and I’m down another four,” he said.

Even if they weren’t covered by insurance, he’d be willing to pay roughly $2,000 every four months out of pocket.

“It’s a nice feeling, it picks you up. There’s a vitality,” he said.

Dr. Maria Simbra