Possible hormone deficiency?
November 22, 2009 3:45 PM   Subscribe

I think I may have a hormone deficiency. I plan to see a doctor. What should I expect?

I (male, late twenties) have recently started to suspect I have a hormone deficiency. This is very unscientific, based on internet diagnosis, but the symptoms seem to fit: depression, fatigue, low sex drive, trouble building muscle/burning fat even when I work out regularly. I'm thinking of going to a doctor about it, but I don't know what to prepare for.

For one, I'm currently unemployed and without health insurance. There's a good chance that will be rectified within a week or two, but no guarantees so I'm anxious about anything that might lead to expensive tests or treatments or be considered a pre-existing condition.

As for the clinical stuff, I don't want to come off as a hypochondriac, or worse yet that I might be trying to finagle some legal steroids (thinking about Bigger, Stronger, Faster* here). What would be a good way to broach this issue with a doctor? Also, is this something I would just bring up with a GP or should I be making an appointment with a specialist?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

I'd say see a GP and get a full thyroid panel: TSH, T3, and T4. They often won't do T3, and then you have to make them.
posted by jgirl at 4:03 PM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

I don't have any direct experience, but if it looks like you may be employed and/or have health insurance "within a week or two" and you think you can stick it out that long, you may want to forgo the visit to the doctor until that changes, so you aren't locked out of getting insurance coverage for it.
posted by tellumo at 4:09 PM on November 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

Agree with tellumo -- wait until your insurance kicks in if that's soon and if you can wait! No point in having it declared a pre-existing condition and getting coverage denied. Or first check that the possible insurance won't exclude pre-existing conditions.

If you have low thyroid then you can keep going a little while but may get more tired and slower until you get replacement prescription, which would likely be a daily pill. You should see a doctor; I'm not one but my family has a history of low thyroid.
posted by anadem at 4:25 PM on November 22, 2009

You do need to go, but I think if you know your insurance will kick in shortly, it'd be better to wait.

(mathowie's initial blog post on his brain growth indicates that he had similar problems leading up to his seizure, not to frighten you-- and it shouldn't, because his posts also indicate that that kind of issue can be treated. Your GP will know what tests to order and can refer you to an endocrine specialist if needed, and you can bring up "I know someone else who had a similar issue, should we be ruling out pituitary issues" with both doctors.)
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 4:35 PM on November 22, 2009

FWIW, I was diagnosed with low testosterone in my early 30s, with similar symptoms. This is definitely worth waiting for health insurance coverage — the workup can take a few different steps, and the hormonal steps and possible therapies are not inexpensive.

It is also worth getting a referral to an endocrinologist for a full workup if an initial screening test reveals something, since general practictioners don't always know the details of the best tests to diagnose this, or the full range of treatment options. In particular, standard testosterone treatment can make you infertile, so if you plan on having kids you may want to pursue an alternate treatment strategy, like HCG injections — I did this for 2-3 years until we were done having kids.

One further thing to know is that the reference range for many labs for testosterone includes all men from 18-70 or so. But if you are at the bottom of the normal range at age 29, that's not normal, and needs followup. My primary care doc didn't know that, and I went about 2 extra years untreated as a result.

Lots more info here. Good luck!
posted by mef613 at 7:25 PM on November 22, 2009

Stop masturbating so much. Seriously.

With the plethora of porn out there, we (males) tend to masturbate far too often, which creates this EXACT scenario.

Try it for a month. Don't masturbate at all for one month. See how you feel.
posted by phrakture at 2:11 PM on November 23, 2009

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