Testosterone begins decreasing naturally around the age of 30, and it will continue to decrease for the rest of your life. Testosterone therapy offers you a way to replace this lost hormone so that you can continue to feel energetic and vital.
However, testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is also a smart choice for men dealing with hypogonadism. In fact, this is the use for which therapy is mainly approved. Numerous studies have proven that TRT can reduce erectile dysfunction, improve muscle mass, produce normal male fat distribution and hair growth across the body, improve sex drive and promote fertility.
Of course, the main question that you may be asking yourself maybe, “Is testosterone therapy safe?” The answer to this depends on how you take the therapy, how large your dosage is and why you have chosen this therapy. As with all hormone therapy medications, testosterone replacement therapy should only be used under the supervision of a licensed physician who has experience dealing with low testosterone (low T) levels.
What Are the Benefits of Testosterone Therapy?
For those using the therapy appropriately under the supervision of a physician, the benefits of testosterone can be quite impressive. Testosterone therapy benefits for men may include the following:
- Increased sexual desire
- Improved mood
- Higher red blood cell production
- Decreased fat gain
- Increased muscle mass
Of course, testosterone benefits for elderly individuals should not be overlooked as these individuals deal even more frequently with bone and muscle tissue loss and low energy. TRT benefits for these individuals could include the following:
- Decreased depression
- Improved memory
- Increased strength
- Increased bone density
- Improved exercise tolerance
Surprisingly, there may also be some testosterone therapy benefits for women, especially for those who are getting older because healthy levels of testosterone are needed to produce estradiol. These benefits could include the following:
- Improved energy
- Lessened weight gain
- Improved bone density
- Regular menstrual cycles
What Are the Risks of TRT?
Testosterone therapy comes with its own set of risks and possible side effects. Of course, the dangers of TRT increase with higher dosages, long-term therapy and the therapy that is not provided through a licensed physician.
One of the biggest concerns is that men taking testosterone therapy may have trouble stopping therapy. This is because the body may stop producing any of its own testosterone once therapy is begun. Therefore, men who stop therapy for low T may feel incredibly fatigued and have very low libido until their body has time to recover.
In addition, the side effects of testosterone therapy could include the following:
- Increased risk of deep vein thrombosis
- Increased risk of sleep apnea
- Acne and skin disturbances
- Male breast enlargement
- Mood swings
- Small testicles
Some studies have also suggested that therapy could stimulate cancer growth in the prostate gland for men or benign tissue growth in this organ. A 2010 study of testosterone in men had to be cut short because men were seemingly developing more heart problems when on the therapy than were men in the control group.
Who Needs Testosterone Therapy?
Because the risks of TRT can outweigh the benefits for some people, it is important to know who the best candidates for therapy are. It is certainly not indicated for all men once they reach middle age. Instead, it is best used by those who have documented low T levels or who have a testosterone deficiency from hypogonadism, which could occur following damage to the testicles. In addition, the best candidates for this therapy will also have significant symptoms from low levels.
Your doctor will also need to dig a little deeper to determine if there is a different underlying cause for your symptoms before giving you a prescription. Some causes of low T may include injury to the testes, chemotherapy, pituitary tumors and certain chronic illnesses.
Signs of Low T
In order for you to qualify for therapy, your physician will check for certain signs and symptoms of low T. Symptoms in men are probably the easiest to detect and could include the following:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Small testicles
- Poor semen production
- Poor sleep
- Fatigue and low energy
- Increased fat tissue
- Low libido
- Mood swings
- Decreased muscle mass
Low testosterone symptoms in men over 50 may be easiest to note because testosterone continues to decrease as you age. Experiencing several of these signs of low T in males is a clear indication that you should have your physician check your hormone levels.
Of course, it is not just men who experience symptoms. Understanding the symptoms of a deficiency in both genders is also important for knowing when and how to treat low T in women. Female symptoms could include the following:
- Increased fat tissue
- Low libido
- Decreased fertility
Low testosterone symptoms and treatment are closely linked because your physician should not treat levels that appear low on blood screenings but that do not produce symptoms.
In addition, a full diagnosis may require other tests to show the effects of low T in men and women. One such example is a bone density screening test for osteoporosis. Once a definitive diagnosis is made, your doctor will discuss low T treatment options with you.
Forms of Testosterone Therapy
There are a variety of options for treating low T, and the one you use should match your needs, your lifestyle and your preferences while also giving you the correct dosage of the hormone. For example, your doctor may discuss the following therapy modalities with you.
Skin patches and gels are easily absorbed through your skin while injections place the treatment for low T directly in your blood vessel-rich muscles. Implantable options are best if you struggle to remember to take medications regularly. While many people feel that oral formulations are easiest to take, testosterone supplements may not be the strongest form of therapy because they are not as easily absorbed through the digestive tract.
In addition, your physician may discuss a natural testosterone treatment with you. These treatments usually make use of lifestyle and dietary changes that can naturally help boost your hormone levels without requiring medications to treat low testosterone. Some low T natural treatment options include the following:
- Losing weight
- Increasing daily exercise
- Eating more beef, tuna, beans and fortified cereals and milk
Are Testosterone Injections Safe?
With all of the confusion surrounding testosterone therapy today, it can be hard to know whether testosterone shots and similar therapy modalities are safe. Legal testosterone is only available from your physician who will ensure that it is the right option for you.
While some studies have shown that testosterone injections may cause an increased risk of cardiovascular events, this has not been proven in long-term studies. Instead, research shows that when testosterone shots dosages are properly calculated to treat hypogonadism, there is little to no documented risk for cardiovascular events or prostate cancer.
If you choose to work with a licensed physician to receive a prescription for TRT, you should first understand the possible health risks as well as the benefits associated with therapy.
You should also return frequently per your doctor’s instructions for increased health monitoring. Your relationship with your doctor should be based on complete openness and honesty so that your doctor knows your entire health history. Finally, you should have a detailed conversation with your doctor about the types of testosterone injections available today so that you can choose the best one for your needs.
How Long Does It Take TRT to Work?
Testosterone therapy effects mainly rely on the dosage that you are given as well as on your physical health and the extent of the symptoms you are currently experiencing. In general, your first TRT results should begin appearing within three to six weeks. However, some people do not notice the full effects of testosterone treatments for up to 30 weeks.
The effects of TRT also vary based on symptoms. For example, improvement in sexual health will probably plateau at only six weeks. However, changes in mood, red blood cell production and fat levels will take far longer to reach their maximum effects, taking up to a year in some instances.
How Much Does Testosterone Therapy Cost?
Testosterone therapy cost once again depends on your dosage. A 1-milliliter injection may cost approximately $30 for the brand name or $20 for a generic version. Some patients may pay over $100 per month as a testosterone therapy average cost. Of course, treatments will also include other costs, such as regular doctor’s visits and blood tests.
Legal testosterone offers you a great way to treat your low T levels if you have been experiencing significant symptoms. Be sure to have a heart-to-heart discussion with your doctor if you are concerned about low T levels so that you can receive safe care designed for your unique physical needs.
Get a free consultation with our medical expert for any questions about hormone replacement therapy