The Dummies’ Guide to Testosterone Replacement
Some tout testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) as today’s true fountain of youth. While that isn’t fully accurate, it can reverse or slow certain changes men experience as they age due to low levels of testosterone. Twenty percent of men over 60 have the condition known as “Low T,” with that number rising to 30 percent in men in their 70s and 80s.
What You Need to Know about Testosterone Replacement Therapy
If you are exhibiting any of the following, you may be a candidate for TRT:
- Brain fog
- Decreased bone mass
- Enlarged breasts
- Erectile dysfunction
- Hair loss
- Increased body fat
- Low libido
- Low semen volume
- Loss of muscle mass
- Mood changes
- Persistent fatigue
- Sleep disturbances
While Low T is a condition most commonly found in older men, men under the age of 30 can experience it as well. For this group, there are several factors that contribute to the condition:
- Being overweight or obese
- Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
- Using anabolic steroids or opiates
- Using illegal drugs
Additionally, certain medical conditions can lead to Low T in younger men. Those include:
- Cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy
- Diabetes, liver disease or AIDS
- Hypothalamic or pituitary disease or tumors
- Inherited diseases, such as Kallman syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome or Down syndrome
- Injuries, tumors, or other conditions affecting the testicles
What Can Testosterone Replacement Do for You?
Testosterone Replacement Therapy offers a life-changing solution to men suffering from Low T. It can work to restore your energy levels, improve your sex drive, help you lose weight and build up muscle mass. Some studies show TRT can also improve sleep and help alleviate symptoms of depression as well.
And while TRT does offer many positive benefits, men who suffer from Low T should consider the risks of TRT before embarking upon treatment. Those risks include acne and oily skin, lower sperm count that can cause infertility, increased risk of blood clots, testicle shrinkage, larger breasts, and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Additionally, certain health and medical conditions may be made worse by TRT, including obstructive sleep apnea, severe lower urinary tract symptoms associated with enlarged prostate, severe congestive heart failure, and above normal red blood cell counts.
How Is TRT Administered?
TRT is available in many forms. Like most medical therapies, there are pros and cons to each. Men who receive TRT should review their best option with their medical practitioner.
- Intramuscular Injections
- Pros—Effective and low cost, these are given anywhere between two to ten weeks apart.
- Cons—May not provide steady benefits as testosterone levels decrease between doses.
- Implantable Testosterone
- Pros—Provides stable levels of testosterone with slow release of the hormone over four to six months
- Cons—Treatment can be painful as testosterone pellets must be surgically implanted. Because reversibility is difficult, this method is not recommended for elderly patients.
- Transbuccal System
- Pros—Tablets that adhere to the gum tissue above the incisor, with testosterone levels peaking within 30 minutes after application.
- Cons—Mild to moderate gum or mouth irritations, tenderness, and bitter taste. Risk of swallowing tablets that could result in decreased testosterone in blood and transfer of testosterone to one’s partner via saliva.
- Transdermal Testosterone
- Pros—Patches are easily applied to the skin. Mimics natural circadian rhythms with a peak of hormone levels in the morning and a decline at night.
- Cons—Can cause skin rashes and must be applied more than once a day.
- TRT Gel
- Pros—Easily applied to the skin with slow release over several hours. Testosterone levels peak within 16 to 22 hours, reach a stable level in 24 to 48 hours, and maintain stability after that.
- Cons—Can be expensive. Increased risk of exposure to others within several hours after application.
When Can You Stop TRT?
TRT is not a cure for Low T. If you discontinue using it, your symptoms may return. While you’re undergoing TRT, your medical professional will closely monitor you for certain conditions and side-effects you may experience.
For the first year after you begin TRT, your doctor will likely perform a physical examination every three to four months, and annually thereafter. Your MD will check your testosterone levels at those exams until they reach a stable, normal range. Every three to six months, your liver function may be tested, as well as your risk of prostate cancer. Within a year or two of starting TRT, your bone density will be evaluated.
Are You a Candidate for TRT?
If you’re ready to start enjoying life, feeling more energized, rediscovering your sexual desire, losing some weight while gaining back muscle, then TRT may be just what you’re looking for.
To find out if you’re suffering from Low T and could enjoy the benefits of TRT, contact the medical professionals at Balance Hormone Center.