There comes a time in a man’s life when his body no longer produces the right amount of testosterone. Be it by some other medical condition or just from old age, low testosterone levels are certainly a real issue among men. What’s worse is that some men of young age also suffer from low testosterone levels.
There are treatments that men can have to regulate the amount of testosterone on their bodies. The most popular and most common has to be testosterone replacement therapy or TRT for short. It’s a pricey procedure, but it’s one that men often consider when their body isn’t doing its job when it comes to testosterone production.
What Is Testosterone Replacement Therapy?
Testosterone replacement therapy is essentially any treatment that helps men normalize the amount of testosterone their bodies produce. Men proven to have abnormal testosterone levels can undergo this treatment under a licensed physician’s guidance.
The treatment comes in many forms, too, which is great as some methods are more effective for men than others.
- Skin Patch/Transdermal – It is a skin patch usually placed on the arm or upper body. Those who use this TRT treatment have to use one skin patch per day. It’s one of the preferred TRT treatments because it’s straightforward to do. The most commonly used skin patch is Androderm.
- Gels – Testosterone gels are basically like the skin patch. Instead of placing a patch, the patient will have to apply the gel on their skin at least once a day. The skin will directly absorb testosterone. Some gels come with a pump that allows patients to apply the prescribed amount of gel on their skin. The most common brands of testosterone gels are AndroGel and Testim.
- Mouth Patch – It’s like a skin patch, but instead of on the upper body, this is usually a tablet that will stick to the upper gums. It is applied twice a day and lets testosterone flow through the blood through the tissues inside the mouth.
- Injections/Implants – Some patients prefer having the testosterone directly injected into their bodies. Aside from injections, patients can also embed testosterone pellets into their soft tissues as well. The body directly absorbs testosterone.
So far, there are no reported serious risks with regards to testosterone treatment therapy. The most common side effect is that the patient develops a rash on the part where the testosterone is applied. This is more common with skin patches and gels.
Some medical experts believe that there’s a chance that testosterone replacement therapy can increase the possibility of a heart attack or stroke associated with testosterone. However, there are yet to be clinical trials that prove this claim. It’s also worth noting that these potential side effects are seen as long-term side effects of the treatment.
Now, these are just common knowledge about TRT. There are many other things that patients should know about the treatment. Here are three important facts about the treatment that you should keep in mind.
TRT Isn’t Recommended To Some People
As we’ve said, TRT’s use is still relatively new, which is why clinical trials behind its long-term side effects and benefits have yet to be uncovered. Despite this, doctors don’t recommend TRT to some people to be safe. More specifically, TRT isn’t recommended to people suffering from certain diseases.
One of which is benign prostatic hypertrophy or BPH. The prostate can grow naturally under the stimulation of testosterone. As men age, their prostate grows accordingly as well. This means if testosterone levels are increased naturally, the prostate will grow at a size where men can suffer from difficulty in urinating.
The treatment is also not recommended for patients who have prostate cancer. Like the prostate itself, the cancer cells could be stimulated to grow further upon more testosterone in the body. As such, many physicians recommend getting a prostate cancer screening before approving a patient for TRT.
If men have sleep apnea, they are often required to undergo sleep study or polysomnography to check if the TRT affects their sleep patterns negatively. Some doctors believe that testosterone replacement prevents patients from getting longer and higher-quality sleep.
The US Food and Drugs Administration has put a warning label on testosterone replacement products about increasing the risk of blood clots in veins. That being said, individuals suffering from issues within the circulatory system are often exempted from TRT.
Upon closer look, TRT could also increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, both of which are critical blood clotting around the lungs. The FDA has also warned about the risk of blood clots caused by polycythemia which is the rise of red blood cells often associated with TRT.
Finally, physicians also believe that men with severe heart failure shouldn’t take TRT as well. As per their reasoning, the treatment could make the condition worse. For congestive heart failure, worse conditions often mean fatal repercussions.
Again, clinical trials about the adverse effects of TRT are still underway. Physicians don’t recommend TRT to people suffering from these conditions because they want to ensure the patient’s safety, of course. Most of these side effects are clearly fatal too.
Hopefully, the upcoming clinical trials shed more light on TRT and why people should be more cautious about it.
TRT Can Be Stopped
One of the biggest misconceptions about TRT is that you can’t stop it once you begin treatment. Your body won’t be able to regulate your testosterone levels if you do. However, the truth is that TRT can be stopped even if you’ve been doing it for years. It is a sensitive matter, though, as there is a certain method that you should follow to ensure that no side effects follow.
The best way to stop TRT is through Post Cycle Therapy or PCT, a treatment plan best taken after you discontinue using anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) or if you stop TRT. Simply put, AAS is a line of drugs that helps regulate your testosterone levels.
What commonly happens when a patient stops taking AAS or discontinues its TRT is that his testosterone levels will plummet significantly. For the human body, this is not advisable as it will prevent the natural production of testosterone from lowering levels than the one taken before the treatment began.
Post-cycle therapy aims to basically ensure that the patient gets back some of his natural testosterone production. The most basic way to understand it is that PCT eases the patient into going back to life before TRT instead of forcing their body to go cold turkey abruptly.
PCT is usually spearheaded by the use of SERM Clomiphene Citrate (Clomid), which is revealed to increase baseline testosterone levels in as fast as 2-4 weeks. It is also revealed to improve sperm production within 3-6 months. The longer that the patient takes Clomid, the better his testosterone and sperm production levels will be.
If the patient is stopping the use of TRT for fertility purposes, the plan used will be Human Chorionic Gonadotropin or HCG. This form of PCT basically hopes to stimulate the testosterone and sperm production levels as well. Many physicians try to mix Clomid and HCG treatment in conjunction with one another as well.
Why do men stop TRT in the first place? There are actually a few reasons why men choose to stop treatment. The most common of which is that they are looking to have a child one day.
While it does boost testosterone levels, TRT is revealed to harm the sperm production of the patient. For a time, the use of unnatural testosterone production was even considered to be used as a contraceptive.
Another common reason to discontinue TRT is the cost of it. Since most of the medications used for TRT are administered daily, it does get costly to maintain the treatment after a while. As such, men opt to stop the treatment instead of incurring more expenses.
Lastly, some patients are required by the physician to stop TRT because of side effects. Aside from rashes, some patients suffer from other side effects that could cause more serious health complications. In cases like these, patients are required to stop taking TRT immediately.
Regardless of what the reason may be, it’s always worth remembering that TRT isn’t exactly a lifelong treatment. There are ways to break free from the treatment, but like TRT itself, the process requires a physician’s guidance as it is understandably complex.
The Benefits of TRT
We all know that TRT serves to increase the amount of testosterone a man has in his body. However, there are more reasons why men choose to undergo this treatment. In reality, there are many proven benefits behind TRT as well.
One of TRT’s key benefits is that testosterone can help increase the production of red blood cells in the body. This results in many internal improvements that men can notice immediately. It also helps make the heart more healthy – allowing it to pump blood easily to the rest of the body.
A good heart can help strengthen muscles and help distribute oxygen more properly to the body. This means allowing the body to perform at its peak performance as well. Moreover, low testosterone levels are often associated with many cardiovascular risks; increasing it means avoiding these conditions.
Testosterone is also responsible for the development of better muscle mass. As such, men who have high testosterone can have a leaner body mass, easily controlling their weight. Since there are less fat and more muscle in the body, they can also have more energy.
Testosterone levels have often been associated with affecting performance levels for physical abilities. It has been proven that men can perform significantly better at sports or any physical activity if they maintain high testosterone levels.
Aside from the muscles, testosterone also plays a huge role in bone density. As men grow older, their testosterone levels drop along with their bone density. This results in weaker bones and higher risks of bone-related conditions such as osteoporosis.
Testosterone also affects a man’s behavior and thinking capacity. For instance, research shows that men with higher testosterone levels have reduced risks of getting Alzheimer’s diseases. Some studies show that men have better verbal memory and faster-thinking capacity if they have better testosterone levels.
Since this is testosterone we are talking about, libido and sex drive come into the discussion. Testosterone levels increase in response to sexual arousal and activity. Those with higher testosterone usually have a higher libido. For older men, increased testosterone levels are important to help them with erectile dysfunction.
For men, testosterone levels are also linked to better moods. As such, men who have regulated testosterone often feel more upbeat and happy. Men who get TRT often report feeling better emotionally as well.
These are the primary benefits of TRT for men. They are more about helping the patient become healthier and more in tune with their body. More studies are being conducted to help understand the other roles of testosterone on the body, but these benefits are the primary reasons people get TRT in the first place.
TRT is a serious treatment that people should put a lot of consideration into if they are requested to get it. While it does have great benefits, the lack of clinical trials concerning its long-term effects and downsides can be worrying for some. As such, make sure to consult with a physician and take the necessary tests before undergoing TRT.