Everything To Know About Testosterone Replacement Therapy for Men
You’ve likely heard of testosterone (the male sex hormone), but did you know that a man’s testosterone levels naturally decrease as he ages? While it’s easy to feel alone in the struggle of dealing with low testosterone levels, it’s important to realize that it’s not an uncommon occurrence. The American Urology Association has reported that two out of every 100 men deal with low testosterone levels. Continue reading to learn more about testosterone replacement therapy for men.
What is Testosterone?
Known as the main sex hormone in males, testosterone plays an important role in the development and maintenance of physical masculine characteristics. Testosterone helps maintain a man’s:
- Fat distribution
- Facial and body hair
- Bone density
- Sperm production
- Sex drive
The testicles are the main source of testosterone production, and in general, men begin to experience an increase of testosterone production during puberty.
Symptoms of Low Testosterone
Symptoms of low testosterone can go unnoticed for quite some time, and unfortunately, patients tend to attribute symptoms of low testosterone to aging. However, declining testosterone levels can lead to severe health problems, so symptoms should not be ignored. Common symptoms of low testosterone levels are:
- Low libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Depressed mood
- Memory loss
- Loss of muscular strength
Causes of Low Testosterone
The natural decline in your body’s production of testosterone starts around age 30, and decreases about one percent per year as men age. However, there are other causes of low testosterone that do not correlate to a patient’s age. These causes include:
- Type-two diabetes
- Hormonal disorders
- Chronic medical conditions
What is Testosterone Replacement Therapy?
Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is a form of hormone therapy for men where androgens are injected into a patient’s body to increase testosterone levels to normal and treat hypogonadism (low testosterone). There are five different methods of use when it comes to TRT. Methods include:
- Intramuscular injections: Testosterone is directly injected into the muscle, slowly delivering testosterone through the bloodstream to alleviate symptoms of low testosterone. This method will require injections roughly every two weeks, and is most often administered in the upper arm, or the upper back side of your thigh.
- Transdermal patches: Transdermal patches deliver testosterone to the body through the epidermis (skin). This method of TRT is mostly used when injections are not favored by the patient.
- Testosterone gels: Applied once a day topically, testosterone gels absorb the testosterone through the skin for an easy application.
- Testopel: This is an in-office procedure where patients have testosterone implants placed directly in the subcutaneous tissue. This procedure is required every four to six months after the initial treatment.
- Clomiphene citrate: This medication is often reserved for patients with low testosterone levels who are trying to conceive.
What are the Benefits of TRT?
Testosterone replacement therapy for men is incredibly beneficial, as it can improve their quality of life and overall health and well-being for patients with reduced testosterone levels. Key benefits from testosterone replacement therapy include:
1. Increased Bone Density and Muscle Mass
Heightened testosterone levels can decrease fat while increasing muscle mass. Testosterone also plays a key role in bone mineral density. Increased testosterone levels will lead to a decrease in the risk of fractures, breaks, and osteoporosis. Patients who combine TRT with adequate healthy exercise will generally notice the most improvements.
2. Better Cognition and Memory
Memory is the most fragile mental function, and with testosterone levels naturally decreasing as men age, information is processed less carefully and details often slip. However, numerous studies have shown that patients with lower testosterone levels showed improvements in memory after testosterone supplementation.
3. Restored Libido
Many people are already aware that testosterone plays an important role in a man’s sex drive, and a balanced level of testosterone leads to increased sexual desires. Older men need more testosterone for libido and erectile function; in this case, testosterone replacement therapy may be the best option for a healthier sex life.
4. Enhanced Mood and Sense of Self
Symptoms of low testosterone not only affect you physically, but also emotionally. Lower testosterone levels are associated with a poorer quality of life, and has been linked to fatigue, irritability, and depression. With testosterone replacement therapy, testosterone levels can be restored and patients can feel an improved mood and well being.
5. Healthy Heart and Blood
Our heart has a huge job to do — to pump blood throughout our body to provide our muscles and organs with the required oxygen so they can perform well. Testosterone aids in easier blood flow to the heart by widening healthy coronary arteries. Testosterone also helps red blood cell production through the bone marrow.
Related: Healthy Heart, Healthy You
Risks of Testosterone Replacement Therapy
Like most things in life, TRT does come with risks for men that you should be aware of before you consider this treatment. In general, this therapy is safe, but does have a few possible side effects to look out for. These side effects include:
- Acne or oily skin
- Mild fluid retention
- Stimulation of prostate tissue
- Breast enlargement
- Increased risk of blood clot
- Decreased testicular size
- Mood swings
It’s important to note that any medications given for TRT should be reviewed between you and your doctor. Directions for administering testosterone should be followed exactly how your doctor intended.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy at USOC
We know that living with symptoms of low testosterone can be challenging, but you don’t have to go through them alone. Here at Urology Specialists of the Carolinas, we offer testosterone replacement therapy for men in various methods, so you and your urologist can discuss and choose which method of delivery will work best for you.
Since testosterone levels naturally decrease after the age of 30, we figured you should have access to our Man-To-Man Guide on Healthy Aging to help you learn more about prioritizing your health as you age! This guide highlights various aspects of men’s life that you should be aware of as you age, as well as best practices for overall health. Click the button below to download your free copy!