Dr Chris Airey interview on BBC Radio Leeds

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Transcript of the radio interview of Optimale Medical Director Dr Chris Airey, discussing Testosterone Replacement Therapy on BBC Radio Leeds on the 31st March 2021.

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BBC Radio Leeds Interviewer

A year of lockdown has exacerbated an already worrying decline in men’s mental health. Now one issue that faces almost 40% of men over 45 and may actually be a key factor in the decline of men’s mental health is low testosterone. Men with low testosterone are prone to mood swings and depression; they also lose muscle mass, gain weight and feel a rapid decline in energy and an increase in brain fog.

Now, the worst thing with all this is that many men simply just don’t realise or know that their testosterone is low. With us now this afternoon is Dr. Chris Airey, he is a ex Royal Marine, who after feeling the effects of working in A&E for the NHS found that he had low testosterone levels and he’s made it his mission to help more men.

Good afternoon Doctor.

Dr Chris Airey – Optimale

Good afternoon, how are you doing?

BBC Radio Leeds Interviewer

So, what are the true signs of low testosterone and what made you realise that hang on, there is something wrong here?

Dr Chris Airey – Optimale

Signs that can come from low testosterone are low energy, low mood, irritability, anxiety, cognitive issues such as poor memory, impaired concentration. Guys may also find that they’re gaining weight (particularly centrally) and general loss of enjoyment in life. Low libido and erectile dysfunction can also be symptoms.

I think for me personally, I’ve always been really active and I kind of hit 37 and found that I stopped doing the things I enjoyed doing like going to the gym, going kite surfing, rock climbing. I was very tired all the time, I’d finish work and come home, eat my tea and go to sleep on the sofa. I just didn’t feel like myself anymore. That was why I decided to start looking into what the problem was. I had some tests done and my testosterone levels were on the low side, so I had a consultation and started replacement.

BBC Radio Leeds Interviewer

For lots of men, this may be happening right now but they just not realising it and they’re thinking it’s got to do with not seeing a lot of sunshine, lockdown’s happening so I’m just generally feeling quite lethargic because the mood of the nation is quite low at the moment. They may be putting it down to that, when actually that’s not the problem. Yes, that is the problem (we’re all facing that) but actually the real problem is low testosterone.

Dr Chris Airey – Optimale

I think obviously at the moment times are very difficult for us all. Lockdown has been hard, there’s a lot of pressure on people’s jobs, financially. We can’t do the things that we would normally do to make us feel good. We can’t go and see people, we can’t see friends and family and we can’t socialise. Obviously, that plays a massive part in everything, but it could be compounded by low testosterone levels in some guys. Of course, there’ll be a lot of people that are feeling pretty grotty during these times, but their testosterone levels are absolutely fine.

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BBC Radio Leeds Interviewer

Now around one in eight men suffer from depression and anxiety and suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45. Men may not realise that their low mood is not because of problems in life or anything like that but it’s down to low testosterone. What can be done to help men with low testosterone?

Dr Chris Airey – Optimale

Essentially what would normally happen is people would have a blood test and if their initial test comes back low, they will have a repeat test to confirm it, including some other health markers which might be responsible as well checking for things like thyroid function and the rest of the pituitary gland.

If a second test comes back low as well then we’d have a consultation and examination and then the risk and benefits of testosterone replacement are discussed. Then if we decided with our doctor that testosterone replacement might be right for them, then they would go on to replacement potentially with the cream or gel or with an injectable testosterone.

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BBC Radio Leeds Interviewer

And you mentioned getting a bit of a belly as well. Then there’s man-boobs and loss of muscle and general lack of enthusiasm. If these are ringing a few bells for people who are listening this afternoon, what should they do?

Dr Chris Airey – Optimale

They should go and discuss this with their GP. Alternatively, they can go and get their blood tested by a private company such as Optimale, because that will give them an answer as to whether it’s their testosterone levels or not. I think if guys are suffering from mental health issues in particular, they shouldn’t be afraid to speak out. There is support there whether it’s support groups, their general practitioner, friends and family. There’s a lot of stigma attached to it, quite rightly as you said, it’s a big problem and a very important problem.

BBC Radio Leeds Interviewer

But men are not great at booking into their GP. We know this!

There may be plenty of partners who are have been nudging their other halves going –  “Go to the GP, get this sorted.”  And he rolls over and goes: “yeah, whatever, leave me alone!”

That’s the usual response isn’t it?

Dr Chris Airey – Optimale

Yeah, very much so.  (laughing) I think obviously the first step to getting any help is asking for it and if you don’t ask for it you don’t receive it.

You’re quite right, guys cannot be great at times with (1.) admitting that there is an issue, and (2.) dealing with it if there is one. I would encourage anybody that’s got any of the symptoms or problems that we’ve discussed to speak out and to think about getting things checked.

Radio Leeds Interviewer

Well, I’ll let you talk to the blokes now. If you want to speak to them man to man, you can just tell them what to do.

Dr Chris Airey – Optimale

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms that we’ve discussed today, please feel that it’s fine to discuss it with your doctor and obviously you can get your levels checked and that will give you an answer.

Radio Leeds Interviewer

You know I said in my introduction, over 40% of men over 45 suffer from this and that’s going to be ticking a huge box in a lot of guys heads that are listening right now. Don’t be afraid of speaking to your GP. A lot of it is down to fear isn’t it?

Dr Chris Airey – Optimale

Yeah, very much so, I think once you’ve made that decision to discuss any issues that you’re having, the NHS is usually very forthcoming and that can make a big difference for patients. It’s important that people do speak out and I would encourage them to do so.

BBC Radio Leeds Interviewer

And you’re good now? All your levels are good and you’re feeling back to normal again?

Dr Chris Airey – Optimale

Yeah, absolutely. It’s been fantastic for me as it has been for most of our patients. My energy levels are good and I’m training and doing the things that I used to do and enjoy. I’m enjoying my life a lot more since I started on my testosterone therapy.

BBC Radio Leeds Interviewer

Amazing! So good speak to you Dr Chris Airey. Talking about low testosterone levels in men. Go to your GP and just get it sorted and don’t suffer in silence.

Thanks so much, Chris. It’s been great to speak to you.

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