Symptoms and Treatment of Low Testosterone

The level of testosterone hormone in the body naturally declines as a man grows older. In fact, up to 40% of all men aged 45 years and older experience the effects of low testosterone. The symptoms of low testosterone may appear even earlier in some men.

Also called hypogonadism or low-T, low testosterone is characterized by a variety of symptoms such as:

  • Low libido (decreased sex drive)
  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Erectile dysfunction (impotence)
  • Reduced testicle size
  • Breast growth in men (gynecomastia)
  • Loss of body and facial hair
  • Muscle weakness
  • Thinning of bones (osteoporosis)
  • Moodiness, irritability and depression
  • Decreased sense of well-being
  • Increased body fat or reduced muscle mass
  • Difficulties in concentration
  • Memory loss and sleep disturbances
  • Decreased hemoglobin level and mild anemia
  • Skin changes such as fine wrinkles
  • Diagnosis of low testosterone

Dr. Amar Raval of Palm Harbor, FLLow-T is diagnosed by measuring the quantity of testosterone in the blood. To clearly assess the level of testosterone, a urologist will request blood tests for both total testosterone and free testosterone. Often, it takes several measurements to confirm that a man has low-T because the levels tend to change throughout the day, with the highest levels occurring in the morning. Testosterone levels are also affected by body mass index (BMI), alcohol consumption, nutrition, age, illness and certain medications. Additional tests for sex hormones such as follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) may also be requested by the urologist for a better picture.

Treatment of Low Testosterone

If low-T is diagnosed, the missing hormones may be replaced through hormone replacement therapy, restoring the body’s testosterone levels to normal. In some cases, however, particularly when low-T is diagnosed but no troublesome symptoms are noted, the urologist may not administer any treatment.

For men with bothersome symptoms, the therapy is administered to remove the symptoms and associated sexual problems. Testosterone replacement therapy can be given in different forms and the urologist will discuss options with the patient before deciding on the most appropriate method. After the treatment begins, testosterone levels are monitored to ensure the most effective dose is given.

The different ways of administering testosterone include:

  1. Injections – The urologist gives regular injections deep into a muscle (intramuscular injection) every 2-3 weeks to 3 months depending on the type of injection chosen. When appropriate, the urologist may delegate the task of injecting testosterone to a nurse or teach the patient how to self-inject. When done correctly, the injections are not painful.
  2. Testosterone Implants – Cylindrical pellets are inserted into the abdomen, thigh or buttock by the urologist under local anesthetic, once every 3-6 months.
  3. Testosterone Patches – Used every day and applied on different areas of the body, including arms, back, buttocks and abdomen, the patches work similarly to nicotine patches used by people trying to quit smoking. They deliver testosterone hormone gradually through the skin.
  4. Testosterone Gel – These gels are applied to clean dry skin, usually on the arm, shoulder, back or abdomen. They should be applied after showering to prevent the gel from washing off too quickly.

There are several benefits that can be derived from testosterone replacement therapy. They include:

  • Improved sexual function
  • Enhanced mental sharpness
  • Increased bone density and protection against osteoporosis
  • Increased muscle mass and loss of body fat
  • Greater strength and improved physical performance
  • Enhanced mood and better sense of well-being

Are you experiencing any bothersome symptoms and suspect you could be having low testosterone? Speak with your doctor as soon as possible about the problem. You do not have to live with these symptoms when effective treatment is available. For more information about testosterone replacement therapy, visit the Advanced Urology Institute website.

What are the treatment options for erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is a common disorder that affects men of all ages. It is a man’s inability to get and maintain an erection. There are many different causes of ED and in many cases there is more than one underlying cause. All a urologist needs is a physical exam and a few questions answered in order to diagnose erectile dysfunction in a patient.

Dr. Brian Hale - Urologist at Palm Harbor, FLFor urologists like Dr. Brian Hale, treatment for erectile dysfunction begins with trying three different medications. The medications are generally oral and easy to take. The urologist will monitor the results of the oral drugs with the patient. Very often, at least one of the oral drugs prescribed will resolve the issue. For these cases, the urologist will write a prescription for the drug and continue to monitor its effectiveness through routine appointments.

If the urologist and the patient are unable to find an oral medication that works effectively, there are other options to consider. One possibility is injection therapy. Small injections into the shaft of the penis are used to dilate the penile arteries, helping increase blood flow, causing an erection. For most men who do not see results with the oral medication, injection therapy is their next best option.

For many men, injection therapy can seem a bit overwhelming at first, maybe even frightening. But in reality, the injections are easy to administer and are relatively painless. The urologist and the patient will begin the injection therapy with a teaching session at the urologist’s office. The urologist may use an ultrasound to monitor the reaction of the blood vessels to the injection to help determine the right dosage for the patient. The patient is also taught how to administer the injection on his own.

Patients are generally pleased after they start injection therapy. The teaching session at the office helps the patient see that the injections are not painful and can easily be done at home. It is very rare that a patient cannot do the injection therapy himself. For those who did not respond positively to the oral drugs, injection therapy is an ideal treatment to produce the desired results and overcome the erectile dysfunction.

Treating erectile dysfunction is an important part of a patient’s well being, both personally and within his relationships. The urologists of the Advanced Urology Institute offer many options for treatment and remain committed to finding the best one for each patient. For more information, visit the Advanced Urology Institute website.

Becoming a Urologist with Paul Arnold, MD

From a young age, Dr. Paul Arnold knew he wanted to become a physician. Growing up as an athlete, he had to deal with many broken bones and made frequent visits to the doctor’s office. ”I found the physician as a healer,” he explains, “and wanted that as my path and destination from [when I was] very, very young. Didn’t know what kind of doctor, but my idols were my orthopedic surgeons that I would see all the time.”

Dr. Paul Arnold of Palm Harbor, FLAs a student at the University of Florida, Dr. Arnold became even more interested in scientific subjects, particularly in biology. He earned his undergraduate degree in zoology before moving on to the University of South Florida, where he attended medical school. During his surgical rotations, he realized that his interest was in the field of urology. He continued to research urology while in medical school and completed his residency in this field at Ohio State University. He holds certifications with the American Board of Urology and the American College of Surgery, in addition to a specialization in laser BPH surgery.

Having grown up in Miami, it made sense for Dr. Arnold to choose to practice urology in his home state. In addition to his work with AUI in Palm Harbor, Dr. Arnold has served as the assistant chief of staff at Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital since 2008; prior to that, he was the chief of surgery at Helen Ellis for two years. He is also an active member of the urological community. He participates in research for medical device and pharmaceutical companies and has published multiple papers on topics related to the diagnosis and treatment of urological issues. He specializes in the treatment of impotence and incontinence for both men and women. He also is experienced with the use of GreenLight Laser therapy and lectures internationally on the subject.

Part of the appeal of urology for Dr. Arnold is that it has a high patient success and recovery rate. As he puts it, “With urology, there is definitely a problem and a solution to it, and so you definitely have a high rate of accomplishment.” Like all physicians with the Advanced Urology Institute, Dr. Arnold’s goal is to diagnose and treat urological issues as quickly and effectively as possible in order to help his patients live the lives they deserve. For more information, visit the Advanced Urology Institute website.

Kidney Stone Surgery and Removal Procedures

Kidney stones can be stubborn and painful. In many cases, patients rely on a urologist for help removing these painful obstructions. Kidney stones are hard deposits of minerals that form in the body and can cause blockage in the urinary tract. Urologists will decide how to treat the stone based on factors like its size, the patient’s health and the amount of pain it’s causing.

Dr. Brian Hale of Palm Harbor, FLOne cutting-edge and noninvasive method for treating kidney stones is called shock wave lithotripsy. Board-certified urologist Dr. Brian D. Hale describes it as using water waves to break up the stone. A machine is put against the patient’s body and creates small explosions. The water waves from the explosions target the stone. As many as 2,500 water waves are directed at the stone during a single treatment.

These waves break the stone into small pieces similar to sand. The patient will be able to pass these much smaller pieces with greater ease. The whole treatment takes about 25 minutes. The procedure is mostly pain free but does require the patient to go under general anesthesia. In the early 2000s, patients were not required to go under anesthesia for this procedure. However, it was found that natural movements from the patient made it difficult to concentrate the water waves on the stone, so putting patients under anesthesia is now the general practice.

Each case of kidney stones is different, and noninvasive measures are not always an option. An alternative procedure for stone removal is to use a scope to go up the patient’s penis through the urethra to the kidney and then use a medical laser to break up the stone and pull out the fragments. This is the preferred method for some of the smaller stones that cannot be broken up with shock wave lithotripsy.

For larger stones in the kidney, urologists may recommend a more invasive form of surgery called percutaneous nephrolithotomy. In these cases, the urologist will make a small incision in the patient’s back to reach the kidney directly. The urologist then will use a scope and either a laser or ultrasound energy to break up the stone. This procedure also requires general anesthesia and the patient may need to stay in the hospital for one to two days to recover.

There are many options for patients suffering from painful kidney stones. The many urologists of the Advanced Urology Institute have committed to finding the best options to relieve the pain of kidney stones. For more information, visit the Advanced Urology Institute website.

Kidney Stones Pain, Symptoms and Treatment

Kidney stone disease is a common issue that affects men and women alike. There are many factors that can be attributed to developing kidney stones. According to Dr. Amar J. Raval, “Kidney stone disease is very prevalent in Florida because of heat and lack of hydration.” The state’s warm climate helps induce sweating and makes it easier to dehydrate, putting people who live there at a higher risk of developing stones.

In addition to climate, there are several other factors that can increase kidney stone likelihood. Family history is one factor. If someone in your family has a history of developing stones, you are at greater risk of developing them as well. Diets high in protein, salt and sugar also increase the risk. Salt especially is known to increase the amount of calcium your kidneys must filter, raising the chances of stone development. Certain conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and urinary tract infections are also known to increase kidney stone risk.

Urologist Dr. Amar Raval of Palm Harbor, FLThere are numerous symptoms associated with kidney stones and they can vary in seriousness and pain level. Doctors often see patients with acute onset pain in the upper abdomen that does not resolve with medication, nausea, fever, chills, difficulty urinating and even blood in the urine. The symptoms of kidney stones may present themselves differently depending on many different factors. It is important to know when something is not right and when it may be best to see a urologist for help.

Luckily for people suffering from kidney stones, there are many treatments doctors can use to help them. Many of the treatments are endoscopic, not requiring incisions and are minimally invasive. For instance, doctors may insert a stint into the urinary tract to allow the patient to pass the stone. Shock waves also can be used to break large stones into smaller more easily passable pieces. The shock wave treatment also is not invasive. Doctors can use lasers to break off a piece of the stone for a biopsy to determine exactly what kind of stone it is and what the best treatment may be.

Consulting a trusted urologist for diagnosis and treatment options for kidney stones is very important. Like many conditions, kidney stone treatment is easiest when caught early. Urologists like Dr. Amar J. Raval at the Advanced Urology Institute help many patients with kidney stones. They are familiar with kidney stone disease as well as the latest medical technology, and can provide the most advanced treatment options for their patients. For more information, visit the Advanced Urology Institute website.

Becoming a Urologist with Amar Raval, MD

A urologist plays an important role in healthcare. The field of urology encompasses many issues that people face throughout their lives, especially as they start to age. As urologist Dr. Amar Raval notes, urology allows him the opportunity to “provide a service to others.” As a urologist he gets to make a positive impact on his patients’ lives by helping them with many of the common issues that prompt people to seek medical help.

Dr. Amar Raval from Palm Harbor, FLOne common problem is kidney stone disease. Kidney stones form for a variety of different reasons. They are particularly common in warm climates, like Florida. Symptoms can vary, but they include severe abdominal pain, nausea, fever, chills, difficulty urinating or blood in the urine. Kidney stones can be very painful and some people need assistance to pass them. A urologist can assess the stones and determine the best way to remove them. In some cases, experienced urologists can break up the stones using a shock wave treatment that is totally noninvasive.

Urologists also frequently see cases of prostate cancer, one of the most common cancers for men. The disease comes in many different forms, making each case unique. While some need to be treated with surgery, chemotherapy or radiation, other forms are non-aggressive and can be left alone. Urologists also may recommend cutting-edge technologies like HIFU. Whatever the diagnosis, it is important to work with your urologist to monitor your prostate and find the best treatment plan for you.

Urinary incontinence is a common problem that many patients are embarrassed to discuss with their doctor. A urologist deals with many patients experiencing urinary incontinence and is accustomed to having in-depth conversations with their patients about incontinence. They know how to discuss the problem with patients so they feel comfortable while also finding the underlying issue causing the incontinence. Whether it is caused by stress, infection, lifestyle or another issue, a urologist can find the best solution and help a patient maintain a healthy and confident life.

There are countless other issues that bring patients to see a urologist for help. Dr. Amar Raval at the Advanced Urology Institute is one of many dedicated urologists improve their patients’ quality of life. For more information, visit the Advanced Urology Institute website.

HIFU Procedure for Prostate Cancer Treatment

High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) is a cutting-edge technique used to remove tissue from the prostate. This treatment has been used to treat prostate cancer in some cases. Depending on the patient, the size of the prostate and the type and grade of the cancer, it can be an excellent alternative to other treatments. According to Dr. Paul Arnold, HIFU treatment gives patients the “best chance to retain erections and your continence.”

HIFU may seem complicated, but it is a fairly simple procedure. Imagine being a child using a magnifying glass to catch the sun and using that light to burn a small hole in a piece of paper. This is similar to how HIFU works, only HIFU uses sound waves instead of sun rays. The doctor aims the sound waves at the cancer cells in the prostate and uses the heat triggered by the HIFU to kill the cancer cells.

Dr. Paul Arnold from Palm Harbor, FLThe procedure takes from one to four hours and is very noninvasive. The doctor requires the patient to fast for about six hours before the surgery and performs an enema to make sure the bowels are empty for the procedure. The patient gets a simple catheter put in for urine collection during the procedure, and anesthesia is administered.

The doctor starts the procedure by inserting an ultrasound device into the patient’s rectum. The ultrasound uses waves to gather and build an image of the prostate. This image will guide the sound waves to the cancerous cells. Sound waves are then sent through the the wall of the rectum and into the targeted areas of the prostate where they destroy the cancer cells.

Once the procedure is over, patients are generally allowed to leave as soon as the anesthesia wears off. HIFU stands out as one of the treatments with few side effects. Patients initially may experience trouble getting an erection and may experience urinating issues as well as leakage between bathroom trips, but these side effects are temporary and will subside. There are also risks of urinary infections that your urologist will monitor with you.

HIFU is a game-changing tool in the treatment of prostate cancer. Doctors like Paul Arnold, MD at the Advanced Urology Institute are embracing these new technologies to achieve the best outcomes for their patients. For more information, visit the Advanced Urology Institute website.

Screening for Prostate Cancer – Dr. Brian Hale

Urologist Dr. Brian Hale recommends that men over 50 years old be checked regularly for prostate cancer. It is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in men and it increases in likelihood as men age. Tests such as the PSA can help detect prostate cancer in its early stages when treatment is most effective.

The most common way to screen for prostate cancer is the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. The PSA test is simple and works like this: Both cancerous and noncancerous prostate tissues create protein, and small amounts of that protein will enter the bloodstream. Prostate cancer cells produce more proteins than noncancerous ones, so if cancer cells are present there will be an increase in the proteins in the blood. The PSA test works by checking the blood for increased protein levels.

Dr. Brian Hale: Board Certified UrologistThere are pros and cons to PSA screening for prostate cancer. PSA tests can show increases in proteins when cancerous tissue is not actually present. This is called a false positive and can cause a great deal of stress for the patient and lead to more invasive tests that may not be necessary. For these reasons, among others, PSA tests were not recommended to patients for a period of time.

A few years after PSA tests stopped being recommended, Dr. Hale began noticing a troubling trend. He began seeing an increasingly large number of patients with prostate cancers that had metastasized, which is when it spreads to other parts of the body. This happens when prostate cancer goes undetected and has time to grow untreated. Dr. Hale noticed a correlation between the time PSA screening stopped being recommended and the up-tick in cases of fast-growing and metastasized cancers.

Because of this finding, Dr. Hale recommends that men continue PSA screening as part of their preventative care. Although it may not be a perfect test, its pros far outweigh its cons. Prostate cancer, when caught early is far easier to treat, and can often be treated with less extreme methods. Prostate cancers that have metastasized can be trickier and far more expensive to treat. Although some men may not like blood tests, it is better to take a simple blood test and catch an issue early than it is to let prostate cancer spread and turn into a much more serious medical problem.

As you age, it is important to take care of yourself and see the right doctors to discuss what is best for you. Dedicated urologists like Dr. Brian Hale at the Advance Institute of Urology have been discussing these issues with their patients for many years and will continue looking out for them. For more information, visit the Advanced Urology Institute website.

Are Medications Effective in Treating Erectile Dysfunction


Erectile dysfunction occurs to some degree in about 50 percent of men 40-70 years old. But only 10 percent of men report a total inability to have erections. For 70 percent of men with ED, taking an erectile dysfunction drug can produce an erection sufficient for intercourse. The drugs typically improve the supply of blood to the penis and, together with sexual stimulation, they produce an erection that is hard enough to begin and complete intercourse.

What ED pills are available?

The first ED drug commonly offered is sildenafil (Viagra). It has been on the market for the longest time and its side effects and the foods it interacts with are well known. Other ED drugs available in the U.S. are tadalafil (Cialis), avanafil (Stendra) and vardenafil (Levitra). Another option is Staxyn, the fast-dissolving form of Levitra that is placed under the tongue.

How well do these drugs work?

In those who are otherwise healthy, ED drugs produce an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse in at least 70 percent of men. Although the results vary slightly with each person, 70-80 percent of men will respond well to these medications. In fact, the majority of men with ED are pleased to use these medications. And while there are some who may not have the desired effect from any of these drugs, including men with damaged arteries or nerves after prostate surgery, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes, a larger number will find them quite effective.

How quickly do the pills work?

The pills may not work if they are not used correctly. These drugs are not an on-and-off switch for erections. So they won’t work well if there is no sexual stimulation. After taking the drugs, it is important for a man to be with his sexual partner and have foreplay. Likewise, Viagra and Levitra do not work if taken after a meal and must be taken before eating. But Stendra and Cialis do not interact with food and can be taken after a meal. When used properly, it takes about 15-60 minutes for the pills to start working.

Which drug works best?

There is no specific ED drug that is the best. Studies have shown that all ED pills have similar efficacy and safety. So the best drug depends on the man’s body chemistry, lifestyle and needs. That is why men should consider their and their partners’ preferences and the cost of their preferred medications. For instance, they may consider how spontaneous their partners are when it comes to sexual activity.

Nevertheless, studies have shown that about 52 percent of men with ED prefer tadalafil (Cialis), 28 percent prefer sildenafil (Viagra) and about 20 percent prefer vardenafil (Levitra). Tadalafil is more popular because it offers a 36-hour window of opportunity to have an erection while the other pills offer a much shorter period.

What are the alternatives to ED drugs?

For men not satisfied with the pills or who have conditions that make these drugs ineffective, shockwave lithotripsy is a great alternative to explore. During this treatment, waves are delivered to the penis to create or improve vascularity. Even if shockwave lithotripsy does not work, the urologist may request a test to measure the rate of blood flow to the penis. The test can help the doctor determine if there are underlying issues that ought to be addressed.

Even though ED drugs are generally safe, they should not be taken by men with certain conditions. For example, men with heart disease should not take these drugs. ED patients should always tell their doctors about all their health issues and the medications they are taking during their consultations. With this information, doctors can recommend the right pills or treatment for each patient. For more information on treatment of erectile dysfunction, visit the “Advanced Urology Institute” site.

How is Prostate Cancer Diagnosed

About 70 percent of men diagnosed with prostate cancer through PSA screening have low-risk, low-grade disease. Unfortunately, over 90 percent of these men are placed under aggressive treatment soon after diagnosis when in real sense up to 60 percent of them may not need treatment, even in the long-term. Why does this happen? The common screening tests are not able to distinguish between men with prostate cancer that requires treatment and those with clinically insignificant disease. In fact, the PSA test, which is the most frequently used screening test, gives up to 12.5 percent false positive results.

Tackling overdiagnosis and overtreatment

There have been growing concerns over the increased number of prostate cancer cases diagnosed and treated following PSA testing. For instance, overdiagnosis through PSA tests has resulted in more men undergoing biopsy, which comes with adverse effects such as pain, acute urinary retention and urosepsis. Likewise, for men placed immediately under aggressive treatment, there are concerns over psychological distress and adverse effects to treatment such as urinary incontinence, bowel dysfunction and erectile dysfunction, among others, which are typically longstanding and life-altering. So because of the quality-of-life issues and financial costs, attention is shifting to ways of minimizing the harm caused by PSA screening, particularly ways of mitigating the conversion of overdiagnosis to overtreatment.

Risk-based screening

At Advanced Urology Institute, we have designed our screening, diagnosis and treatment processes for prostate cancer to respond to these growing concerns and minimize both overdiagnosis and overtreatment. For instance, we have included a candid patient-urologist discussion of both the PSA and digital rectal exam to make sure our patients are properly informed of their pros and cons. We also perform these screening tests in an individualized manner, based on each patient’s risk factors. As a baseline, we allow men to take their first PSA screening only when in their 40s. This enables us to develop the right screening protocol for each patient.

If a man’s PSA is low during the first test, we generally consider him to have a low lifetime risk of the disease and may not recommend frequent PSA measurements for him. And if we find PSA < 2 for a man in his 60s, we consider him to have a negligible chance of dying from the cancer and recommend that he not undergo any further PSA screening. It’s only for men with higher risk, such as those who have had a first-degree relative with the cancer — which doubles their risk of developing prostate cancer — that we may recommend more frequent screening.

Taking advantage of newer diagnostic tools

Previously, any man with a PSA result that was worrisome, such as one showing a rise over time or has an absolute high value, would automatically be a candidate for biopsy. At Advanced Urology Institute, we have changed this and now may perform other tests before we can recommend a biopsy. For instance, we can use a second test called PCA3 to define a man’s risk level and assess whether or not a biopsy is necessary for him. The PCA3 is a more specific marker for prostate cancer than the PSA and it can be measured in urine, usually after a DRE. Similarly, we can assess the aggressiveness of a tumor through genomic testing and use the results to determine whether immediate treatment or active surveillance is appropriate. So we use such tests to reduce the harm that our patients may suffer from biopsies done due to PSA-based overdiagnosis.

Individualized approach to treatment

To further reduce the chances of treating indolent prostate cancer, we use a combination of PSA and biopsy to assess and classify patients according to degree of aggressiveness of their disease. At AUI, we are committed to minimizing unnecessary, worthless or even harmful treatment after cancer diagnosis. Our most preferred management strategy, particularly for men diagnosed with localized, low-risk prostate cancer, is active surveillance as opposed to immediate treatment. It involves following men with low-grade, low-risk cancer closely and only providing treatment for tumors that exhibit aggressive behavior or are spreading to other areas of the body. Through careful observation, we have realized that a majority of men do not need treatment and therefore are spared the unnecessary aggressive interventions.

During active surveillance, we usually recommend serial PSA testing and biopsy to help monitor the behavior of the tumor. Before we put patients on active surveillance, we inform them that there is a possibility that the cancer may spread to keep them psychologically prepared just in case we detect progress. We also make them aware of the cancer-specific mortality with and without treatment, which is usually less than 10 percent without treatment and reduced by about 50 percent with radiation or surgery. We also inform them of the pros and cons of active surveillance and provide them with all the information they need to make personal treatment decisions.

Our approach is quite different for patients with high-risk prostate cancer. For them, we usually begin curative treatment as soon as possible, using the tools available to deliver safe, timely and effective treatment. The most common treatments for high-grade, high-risk prostate cancer are radiotherapy, high-intensity frequency ultrasound and robotic prostatectomy. Want to know more about prostate cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment? Visit the “Advanced Urology Institute” site.