Testosterone Replacement Therapy
Peter Colley provides a guide to Testosterone Replacement Therapy.
Low Male Testosterone (LMT) is an issue that many men experience at some point in their lives. It can sap away at people's strength and leave them feeling self-conscious of their bodies along with a fair share of health difficulties. Even though there are lifestyle changes, you can make, for some people that is not enough. You may want to go the extra mile and try testosterone replacement therapy (TRT in the UK).
It is an effective method for restoring testosterone balance. However, as with any recovery process or medication, there are a few pointers that you need to be aware of beforehand.
What is Testosterone Replacement Therapy?
Testosterone Replacement Therapy is a form of therapy that supplements lost hormones through a variety of treatments, relieving the patient of symptoms. Forms of therapy include:
- Gel - You can also purchase a gel that you apply once a day, absorbed transdermally through the skin.
- Skin patch - One treatment involves a skin patch being worn either on the arm or the upper body. It needs to be applied once a day, ideally in the morning.
- Mouth patch - Patients have the option of consuming a tablet called Striant, which sticks to the upper gums above the incisor. It is applied twice a day, releasing testosterone into the blood via the oral tissues.
- Injections - Testosterone can be directly injected into the muscles, which are then absorbed into the bloodstream.
- Implants - Testosterone can be implanted as pellets in the soft tissue before being absorbed into the bloodstream. Some people have found that the benefits of this method include less skin irritation and have a longer duration.
- Oral tablets - As with many conditions, there are oral tablets available. However, it should be noted that some doctors believe that treating LMT with oral tablets can have adverse effects on the liver. The previous medications listed above will get the testosterone into the blood directly, bypassing the liver in the process.
Apart from the chief benefits of supplementing your hormone levels, there are some other benefits you can experience as a result of the treatment, many of which directly counteract the symptoms of LMT.
- Boosted energy levels - TRT can bring your energy levels up to an average standard. Robbie Williams has previously spoken openly about his battle with LMT and how TRT gave him a renewed lease on life.
- Mood - Depression and mood swings are frequent symptoms of LMT. The change in mood varies from patient to patient, with some not always noticeable. However, the consensus is that TRT balances out your mood levels.
- Increased muscle mass - LMT sees patients suffer from decreasing muscle mass and a low bone density. While there is no guarantee that TRT will restore these to the original levels, it will still keep them stable.
- Sex drive - With testosterone being directly linked to the testicles, your sex drive will take a hard hit as a result of LMT. Patients who have taken TRT have experienced an increase in sexual energy, as well as improve quality of erections.
- Anaemia - Some people with LMT can experience anaemia (lack of iron in the blood and insufficient red blood cells). One such study investigated TRT's impact on anaemia, revealing that patients with the condition experienced a 40% increase in haemoglobin levels.
LMT and many of the resulting symptoms are a natural part of the ageing process, and for many patients, this is a significant factor in their decision to seek out TRT. But there are a few risks that patients incur from TRT, especially if their form of LMT is due to natural ageing as opposed to a potential enforced condition like hypogonadism. Also, if you have any pre-existing conditions you are receiving treatment for, the inclusion of TRT-related medication could exacerbate those symptoms.
Some side effects include:
- Sleep apnea - sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder in which the upper airways are partially obstructed while you sleep, causing your breathing to stop and start at random intervals.
- Skin rash - Sometimes, TRT can cause mild skin disorders such as skin acne or rashes.
- Bodily sizes - TRT can alter aspects of your physical appearance, the effects often directed to the body parts most commonly affected by LMT, such as breasts, which are enlarged, and testicles, which may shrink.
- Low sperm count - The volume of sperm already experiences a decrease in volume due to LMT, but TRT could potentially lower your sperm count, increasing the possibility of infertility.
- Red blood cells - If a patient already has a red blood cell count that is above average, doctors may advise against TRT.
- Heart disease - Although research is ongoing and there is no conclusive data yet, some researchers have suggested that TRT could increase the risk of heart disease. There was a study in 2010 called the Testosterone in Older Men study, which was halted after researchers found that men on TRT were experiencing noticeable heart problems.
- Prostate cancer cells - Again, an issue down to speculation, but physicians have shown concern that TRT could stimulate the growth of prostate cancer cells. While the actual impact is undetermined, some physicians are hesitant are recommending TRT to patients who are already a high risk of prostate cancer.
You should consult with your doctor, who will measure your testosterone levels at least twice, before making any recommendations. You need to take stock of your health, all your current ailments, and all the medications you are on before pursuing TRT. If you then still wish to find a form of therapy for the condition, make sure you are fully clued to any symptoms you will be experiencing.
The potential benefits of TRT vary from person to person. Some men may not experience extreme levels of LMT but feel they might benefit from the therapy. Seeking advice can be a difficult hurdle, but it is a step that could renew your health and happiness.
If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:
- COLLEY, P. (2019) Testosterone Replacement Therapy [WWW] Available from: https://www.brianmac.co.uk/articles/article490.htm [Accessed
About the Author
Peter Colley is a freelance writer.