One out of every four men over the age of 30 suffers from low testosterone. As you age, the likelihood of suffering this condition increases.
Some of the signs you may be suffering from low T (as it’s often called) include reduced libido and erectile dysfunction.
The good news is, even if you are diagnosed with this condition, low testosterone treatment is extremely effective. Learn more about low T, and what to expect with the treatment, here.
Understanding Low Testosterone
Before diving into the details about low testosterone treatment, it’s a good idea to better understand this condition.
Low testosterone is defined as being 300nb/dL of total testosterone, as well as under five ng/dL of free testosterone. Free testosterone is the total amount of the hormone that isn’t bound to any other portions.
If low testosterone is present, it may also indicate androgen deficiency if you suffer from certain issues, such as:
- Diminished physical performance
- Depressed mood
- Sleep depression
- Reduced sex drive
- A fracture or osteoporosis
- Erectile dysfunction
If these symptoms are present, then looking into low testosterone treatment and speaking to your doctor is a smart move.
Important Information to Know before Starting Low Testosterone Treatment
Before beginning this treatment, it’s a good idea to have some basic information. Also, speak to your doctor if you have more questions.
The Risks of Testosterone Therapy
It’s important to understand there are risks and side effects of TRT. Some of these are:
- Larger breasts
- Testicle shrinkage
- An increased risk of blood clots
- Reduced sperm count leading to infertility
- Oily skin and acne
Understanding the risks can help you determine if this treatment is something you wish to undergo.
The Effect of TRT on Certain Conditions
If you have certain conditions, then it is not recommended to pursue TRT.
However, there have been some studies that have shown men who have been treated for some of these conditions may be a candidate for TRT. This is the case as long as they are closely monitored by a doctor for signs of the disease. Also, before starting TRT, your doctor needs to assess your risk for any of the “concern conditions.”
Your doctor may also tell you to avoid TRT if you have any of the following conditions:
- Higher than normal red blood cell counts
- Severe congestive heart failure
- Serious lower urinary tract symptoms
- Obstructive sleep apnea
It’s also not advised for those who suffer from low T due to aging to undergo TRT.
How is Low Testosterone Treatment Taken?
There are several different forms of TRT, each one having both pros and cons.
Some of the most common treatment methods include:
Easy to apply and remove, patches are a popular method for TRT. However, they can result in skin rashes, and often have to be applied more than just one time a day.
Gels are rubbed into your skin, and convenient to use. Make sure you are careful about who comes in contact with the gel for several hours after application. If not, they may be exposed to the testosterone. There is now a nasal gel available that eliminates this risk.
This type of patch is applied to your upper gum, two times a day. While these are convenient, they can result in gum disease or irritation.
Testosterone injections are given from two to 10 weeks apart. Compared to other treatments, these are quite affordable. However, injections don’t always provide steady or consistent benefits. Typically, your testosterone levels will fall between your doses.
These are inserted beneath your skin every three to six months by your doctor. Once put in place, this is a convenient option. The downside is that each application requires minor surgery.
Monitoring of the TRT
In most cases, your doctor will measure your levels of testosterone at the three- and six-month marks after your treatment starts. After that point, testing will likely be done once a year. If your levels are adequate, you will likely remain at your current dose.
If your doctor discovers your levels are too low, then they may adjust your dose. Within a few years of TRT, your doctor will measure the bone density if you suffered from osteoporosis when treatment started.
What to Expect with Treatment?
Now that you have a better idea of the important information related to low testosterone treatment, you likely want to know what to expect, including how long it takes to work. Keep reading to find out.
Experience and Increase in your Libido (Sex Drive)
One of the most common and recognized signs of low testosterone is if your sex drive has dropped. Androgen receptors are found in the parts of your brain that impact sexual desire. If there isn’t enough T to activate them, then your libido will fade.
When the lost testosterone is replaced, it begins to activate the androgen receptors in the part of your brain that controls your desire. According to experts and patients alike, regaining your former sex drive is one of the main advantages of TRT.
In addition to improving your libido, this treatment can make your erections much more satisfying.
It’s Easier to Build Muscle
Muscles and testosterone go hand in hand. Your muscles are extremely responsive to testosterone. One of the most common things seen with TRT is an increase in total muscle mass.
Why? Because, the androgen receptors are found in your muscle tissue, which means testosterone activates them for stimulating growth. Of course, if you want to make the most of this benefit, you need to add strength training to your routine, too.
While an increase in lean muscle is something many men report, there are some who also report a loss of fat, as well. Testosterone isn’t going to result in fat loss, but a portion of it may be due to the increase in muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the higher your BMR is. This means your body is going to burn more calories when it is at rest.
Increased Energy Levels
Many men who suffer from low T also suffer from fatigue. When they receive treatment, many claim their energy has improved. There are some who even claim this treatment helps to eliminate cases of “brain fog,” which go along with low testosterone.
While researchers don’t know how or why testosterone impacts energy, one thought is that it affects the mitochondria, which produces energy inside of the cells.
It may also be tied to androgen receptors. If they don’t receive sufficient input, it can result in fatigue. As a result, restoring testosterone levels to normal can help to reverse this.
Similar to the way it affects energy, there’s no definitive answer as to why testosterone has such a significant impact on your mood. However, doctors have agreed that the effect is truly life-changing.
In many ways, the impact this treatment has on mood is one of the most profound. While not everyone undergoing the treatment will experience it, those who do state the effect is “profound.”
In one study, it was discovered that after 12 months of treatment, the percentages of men with severe or moderately severe symptoms on depression was reduced from 17 percent to just two percent.
While this isn’t necessarily a positive, it is the most common side effect of low testosterone treatment.
Usually, if the pituitary gland senses there isn’t enough testosterone present in your bloodstream, it will send down a luteinizing. Also called LH, this hormone is responsible for creating the signal that lets your testicles know it’s time to produce more testosterone.
The hormone called follicle stimulating hormone, or FSH, is used to signal the production of sperm.
When you begin to take testosterone, your pituitary gland is “told” that there is enough T in your bloodstream. As a result, it stops sending the signals letting them know to produce more.
Essentially, this is just putting the testicles to sleep, during which time there’s no production of testosterone or sperm.
The size of your testicles is based on the production of sperm. So, when you are making fewer sperm, your testicles become smaller. It also means that fertility may be hampered – serving as a type of birth control. If you want to have kids, testosterone replacement treatment isn’t a good idea.
Also, once treatment is stopped, you won’t always return to “normal.” In fact, your increasing age, and the longer you are on T-therapy, the less likely you are to return to normal sperm production levels.
You May Experience Swelling in Your Ankles and Feet
When you begin adding outside testosterone to your body, you may notice swelling in your ankles and feet. That’s because it can cause your body to retain additional fluid.
This isn’t too big of a deal for most people. It is also more common if you are taking a non-daily treatment, such as an injection. In this case, you are getting a much higher dose of T at one time. You may notice a few pounds added on the scale, but it should melt away after just a few days.
Your Skin Type May Experience Changes
Replacing your testosterone may result in a change of your skin type. This could be for the better, or, unfortunately, for the worse. Just like other hormones in your body, testosterone may increase the production of oil.
This isn’t always a bad thing.
Oil is crucial for healthy skin. As a result, you may wind up with a better complexion. However, if too much oily buildup develops, it could lead to breakouts.
The good news is this isn’t common. It is also only (usually) seen in men who have a history of issues with acne.
Similar to the issue of fluid retention, this is typically seen with treatments, such as injections when a higher dosage is given in a single treatment.
Your Breasts May Start to Enlarge
In all men, regardless of if you are taking T or not, there is some amount of testosterone that’s converted to estradiol. This is a hormone that’s a form of estrogen.
If you happen to have more breast tissue than others, the T you are taking will be naturally converted into the estradiol. As a result, this could stimulate your breast tissue to grow even more.
The medical term for this is gynecomastia. It is a rare side effect in men.
However, if this does happen, your doctor will probably be able to stop treatment for a few months and allow this tissue to return to normal. Then, you can return to the treatment, as well as a drug that blocks the conversion of it to estradiol.
Low Testosterone Treatment: Is it Right for You?
Are you worried that you may suffer from low testosterone? Could low testosterone treatment be right for you? The best way to know for sure is to speak with your doctor.
They can perform the tests necessary to determine if low T treatment could be beneficial. They can also answer any questions you may have about the process.
If you are interested in learning more about low T treatment, or exactly what low T is, be sure to contact us. We have a team of professionals who can help answer any questions you have. We may even be able to help you have your treatment covered by insurance.
You don’t have to suffer from the symptoms of low T. There are treatment options available today that can restore your life, health, and well-being.