Levels of testosterone peak in men around the time they turn 19. On average, testosterone levels are expected to decrease slightly as men age, but some men may experience drastically lower testosterone levels at different points in their lives.
Symptoms of Low Testosterone Levels
In men, some or several symptoms may be present that would indicate they are experiencing low testosterone levels:
- erectile dysfunction or low sex drive
- hair loss, body and head
- muscle and bone mass loss
- breast tissue growth
- memory impairment
- mood irregularities
If low testosterone levels occur due to a chronic medical condition, other symptoms may manifest. Report anything that may be causing pain, discomfort or seems unexpected and irregular to your primary care physician.
Causes of Low Testosterone Levels
Low T levels can be caused by injury or illness and can also arise from genetic conditions that negatively impact hormonal regulation in the body. Certain lifestyle choices can also lead to a decrease in testosterone within the body. Some of these may include:
- high blood pressure
- depression and anxiety
- stress-related issues
- high blood pressure or cholesterol
- alcohol and tobacco use
- thyroid issues
- testicular damage
- pituitary disease or tumor
Medications taken to treat certain medical conditions can also contribute to lower levels of testosterone. Your primary care physician or urologist should be informed of any preexisting conditions and any prescription medication or supplements you take so that they can form the most effective treatment plan for low T levels.
Common Treatments for Low Testosterone Levels
The treatment approach for low T depends on what is causing low T levels. If it is caused by a primary medical condition, treatment should focus on relieving the symptoms associated with that medical condition before treating low testosterone directly.
Hormone replacement therapy for low testosterone levels can be done through a variety of methods. These include pellet-like implants beneath the skin, a skin patch or gel to put on the skin, as well as oral gel that can be rubbed on the gums and absorbed into the blood stream. Injections are also common and sometimes preferred. Your physician or urologist will help you determine which of these methods will work best in your situation.
Medicare Coverage for Low T Treatment
In most cases, the type of low testosterone treatment that is prescribed will indicate what kind of Medicare benefits may be required for coverage and cost-sharing obligations. Hormone replacement therapies that are fulfilled by a pharmacy to be taken at home would not be covered under Medicare Part B’s outpatient terms.
However, if someone is receiving a shot administered by a qualified health care professional in a Medicare-certified facility, Part B outpatient coverage may apply. Certain out-of-pocket expenses, such as any relevant copays or deductibles, will need to be satisfied by the recipient.
Medicare benefits with a stand-alone Part D Prescription Drug Plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan with prescription drug coverage may include many of the other types of hormone therapy in their formularies. Because the plans are offered through Medicare-contracted private insurers, each formulary may be different and recipients should check with the insurer to find out if their preferred low T treatment is covered.
Medicare recipients who qualify for any of their state’s Medicaid programs for dual-eligible beneficiaries may have more cost-saving options when it comes to hormone replacement therapy prescriptions. Each state can use different eligibility rules, which means applicants should contact their local office for specific guidelines on who can apply and receive approval.