Hormonal balance is crucial for our bodies and minds to function properly, regardless of gender. A subject that’s getting more traction in recent years is testosterone deficiency, and a relatively new treatment for it is called testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).
Let’s see how it helps men get their hormones back in order.
TRT helps combat low testosterone levels
In the past, when men wanted to boost their testosterone levels, they usually went for synthetic anabolic steroids, which came with an abundance of downsides and caused all kinds of problems with their health. Due to that, these types of products got banned and are now illegal.
TRT is a medicinal therapy, not an over-the-counter product, prescribed by physicians to men who have issues with reduced testosterone levels. The treatment’s progress is continuously monitored by a doctor to ensure everything is progressing as planned.
The goal is to boost testosterone levels back to a normal range and ensure that the side effects of testosterone deficiency no longer occur.
Why is testosterone important?
Testosterone is very important for men as it regulates a wide variety of processes in their bodies. First of all, it is responsible for the development of male reproductive features during pregnancy. Second, during puberty, it is responsible for the development of male features like upper body muscle mass, development of body hair, changes in the voice, and so on.
Throughout adulthood, the hormone regulates sperm production, bone density, mood, libido, sex drive, and more. This should be enough to outline its role in the male body, but why do we need to worry about testosterone levels dropping?
Well, adult males can experience a drop in their testosterone levels in several ways. One way is poor lifestyle choices — poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, irregular sleeping habits, alcohol, and illegal drugs, are all factors that can impact our testosterone levels dropping. Some health conditions, like those that attack the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, can cause a drop. HIV/AIDS is also a known disease that causes a drop in testosterone.
Still, the most common issue causing testosterone deficiency is aging. Men tend to lose some of their testosterone production as they age. After they reach the age of 35, they tend to lose 1% of their total testosterone per year. This is an estimate, though, as the drop can be significantly higher or lower depending on lifestyle and genetic factors.
This means that most men will face a deficiency of testosterone at some point in their life, and this is where TRT comes into play.
What are the downsides of low testosterone?
We mentioned what testosterone regulates, but we didn’t mention what happens in our bodies when deficiency hits. Well, there are several prominent symptoms that you can experience.
Erectile dysfunction is one of the more dreaded symptoms. Due to the fact that testosterone regulates mood and is also partially responsible for the expanding arteries in the penis to enable erections — a deficiency can cause irregular and weak erections. Not only this, but your sex drive will drop as well, making you crave sex less and less.
A prolonged deficiency can cause issues with brittle bones, as this is one of the things that testosterone regulates. A drop in testosterone means that there will also be a drop in the rate at which the body repairs bone tissue. If the body keeps lagging behind on bone repair, this will lead to brittle bones, which, if broken, heal very slowly.
Another very important role that testosterone plays is the fact that it regulates protein synthesis, which is essential for building lean muscle mass.
Keep in mind that a lot of these symptoms can be caused by other things, so make sure you check with your doctor before you decide you have a T deficiency.
How does TRT work?
TRT pretty much works like insulin treatment for type I diabetes, where the body doesn’t produce enough of the substance, and it needs to be added from an outside source. Usually, it is administered through injections, but it can also come in the form of pills, tablets, patches, and so on.
Now, many patients get confused by all these options and why one would go for injections or patches when you can simply take a pill. Well, doctors have figured out that getting testosterone through the digestive system puts a strain on the patient’s liver. In order to avoid this strain, they figured out ways to administer the therapy through muscle injections, patches, or subdermal implants to bypass the digestive system and avoid straining the liver.
This treatment is usually recommended for men over 50, but younger men can be advised to get this therapy as well in some situations. Regardless of your age, you want a certified specialist to guide you through this procedure and confirm that you need it, as a healthy body can suffer negative effects due to this.
Are there any risks involved?
TRT has its set of risks and negative side effects. This is why we put so much focus on the fact that you need to go through the proper medical channels to do it correctly.
We’ve already mentioned that oral administration of TRT therapy can cause liver strain. On top of that, you can expect to get irritated skin, rash, or itching where the therapy was administered.
Long-term TRT is not recommended by doctors as this type of therapy is pretty new, and we still don’t have enough long-term studies to confirm its safety.
Some other risks include an increased risk of heart attack or stroke and the aggravation of existing illnesses. If you have any of the following conditions, you need to be aware that there is a chance of your condition getting aggravated further:
If there are ways to resolve the underlying issues that make TRT a risky endeavor, it is very much advisable to manage that first and then start the therapy.
Are there any alternatives?
It all depends on the level of testosterone deficiency and the underlying cause.
Many people who work out with a passion consider taking synthetic anabolic steroids to boost the efficiency of their workout. We would advise against this due to several reasons. First, these substances are illegal, and anyone who sells them to you is a criminal in the eyes of the law. Second, if TRT has side effects, synthetic anabolic steroids have even more. They can cause a variety of issues, and since they are illegal, there is no quality control or standardization.
If the deficiency you are facing is light to moderate, simple lifestyle changes might help you overcome the problem. Regular exercise that includes resistance training or HIIT tends to bring up testosterone levels significantly. Also, proper dieting that includes ingredients that help boost testosterone production and/or reduce the amount of testosterone being converted to estrogen is a great idea. If you are overweight, you should definitely focus on losing weight, as fat tissue is known to cause a drop in sex hormone-binding globulin due to creating insulin resistance.
Finally, testosterone-boosting supplements can be a great addition to exercise and better dieting. These supplements do not contain testosterone. Instead, their formula consists of ingredients that help your body produce more testosterone, reduce the conversion of testosterone into estrogen, and substances that alleviate the effects of the deficiency. The vast majority of testosterone boosters come with little to no side effects and are generally safe for use.
When is TRT recommended?
There are no strict rules when it comes to this. It is generally accepted that TRT is not recommended for people under 21 years of age, but there is also no right age to start getting this therapy. The way most patients get to TRT is by checking their medical history, doing detailed blood work, and consulting their physician on it. It is also worth noting that TRT is not a permanent solution for testosterone deficiency. As soon as you stop getting therapy, your testosterone levels will inevitably drop.
Testosterone replacement therapy is still a bit controversial. On the one hand, it offers a set of amazing benefits for your body and mind, consistently helping you feel more energetic, improving your mood, and helping you increase your muscle mass.
On the other hand, it has quite a few side effects and can aggravate existing conditions. It isn’t a permanent solution to the problem you are facing, and once you stop getting therapy, your testosterone levels will inevitably drop, provided you are not doing anything else to keep them consistent.
Still, whether you decide to get it or not is up to you and your doctor’s recommendation. Sometimes it’s the only option to get your system back on track.
Men who have symptoms of testosterone deficiency, along with blood work results proving that their T levels are low, usually get TRT. In cases of lighter testosterone deficiency, TRT is usually not recommended.
You shouldn’t be making this decision by yourself. TRT is something that is recommended by a physician and isn’t something people should figure out on their own. So, you know you need TRT when your doctor recommends it.
There is no specific period of time that is standard for the duration of TRT. Generally speaking, as long as TRT benefits your body, you can use it. Long-term TRT is usually not recommended as we don’t have studies that show how it impacts our bodies.