Testosterone is the male sex hormone in charge of not only the male characteristics but also health in general. While it is the dominant hormone in males, it is also beneficial in women. Low testosterone is also referred to as low-T or testosterone deficiency. The testosterone levels in men might deplete because of various reasons but regardless of the reason for its decline, the low levels in the body might have serious implications on the body. To that end, testosterone replacement therapy(TRT) is done to counter low-T.
What is TRT
Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) is a form of treatment used for managing low testosterone levels in men. It is also known as Androgen Replacement Therapy and is only recommended after hypogonadism diagnosis. The hormone is administered into the body through different methods, including oral medications, topical creams & gels, intermuscular injections, and transdermal patches.
You might experience some of the symptoms which are a sign of testosterone deficiency, but it might not be an indication that you suffer from it.
Is it For Me?
You might have all the symptoms of Low-T, from those affecting the mind, sexual function, and body, requiring you to get TRT treatment. While this does not mean that you have testosterone deficiency, it could be a reason for the symptoms. That said, below are some of the common symptoms of Low-T.
Increased Body Fat
When the testosterone levels in men drop, they start developing body fat. In fact, if the estrogen levels exceed the testosterone levels, they might develop gynecomastia which also means enlarged breast tissues.
Testosterone is referred to as the male hormone, and a decline might affect erections. When testosterone is sufficient in the body, it stimulates nitric oxide secretion in the brain which eventually causes erections. Testosterone has also been linked with managing erectile dysfunction as well as improving the overall sex drive.
Men naturally lose their hair as they age, but hair loss is also associated with testosterone deficiency. And apart from balding, you might also experience loss of hair on the face and other parts of the body.
Decreased Bone Mass
Low testosterone levels in the body might cause a condition known as osteoporosis, which is the thinning of bones. This condition is usually common among women but when older men experience low-T, the bone volume decreases which increases the risk of bone fractures.
Extreme fatigue and low energy levels might also be a sign of low-T. You might have lesser motivation to do simple tasks or even work out. This is because the mood is affected when the energy levels drop or when you are always tired.
You might be experiencing all or any of the symptoms of low-T, but are you sure that you need TRT treatment?
Why TRT Might Be Good For You
One of the sure ways to know if TRT is suitable for you or not is through bloodwork. This helps to evaluate the total testosterone levels in the body before you are put under treatment. So it boils down to assessing your current red blood cell count as well as testosterone levels before determining the right testosterone replacement therapy treatment for you. In some cases, patients are treated depending on the range they fall on. This might be inaccurate and you might fall higher or lower than that range, or even have normal testosterone levels.
Since you might need to get the treatment indefinitely, it is important to understand what you are getting into, so make sure to go through the whole process first with your provider. You might end up being falsely diagnosed with Low-T and being put under a treatment plan you don’t need.
Also, while most men end up getting TRT for the rest of their lives, this might not be necessary. Some health conditions might limit lifetime TRT treatment, so it all depends on the health and your specific needs.
Why TRT Might Not Be Good For You
You might not need to get testosterone replacement therapy if you have some health conditions like breast and prostate cancer. However, if you have successfully completed treatment for prostate cancer, it is possible to undergo TRT. Other health conditions that might prevent you from getting TRT include extremely high red blood cell count, obstructive sleep apnea, severe congestive heart failure, and severe lower urinary tract symptoms.
How to Get TRT
There are a lot of over the counter testosterone treatment methods and while these are easily accessible, they are not specific to every individual in need. So, such treatments might not be the best since different Low-T systems are not necessarily attributed to testosterone deficiency. The best way to get testosterone replacement therapy is from your doctor or from an anti-aging clinic. There are pros and cons to both sides when you choose either of the two options, but the process of getting TRT is similar.
The Process of Getting TRT
Once you make a decision to undergo TRT, you need to understand that there are a few steps you will need to go through before taking treatment. From the initial stages of consulting with your doctor to finally getting your treatment plan, the following are the steps of getting TRT.
What are your symptoms? What is your current health? Do you really need the treatment? How are you supposed to prepare? These and more are some of the questions that will be answered during the first stage of TRT. You will also be able to learn more about how the treatment works and what it entails.
A medical exam will be conducted before any treatment or blood tests. This step is to ascertain your current health before carrying out any tests or preparing a treatment plan. Depending on the need for the treatment, a full medical exam might be conducted, and an additional medical questionnaire.
Every patient has different TRT needs, so extensive bloodwork is carried out beforehand to pin down what your deficiencies are in order to customize your treatment plan. Prostate-specific antigen(PSA) and red blood cell levels are tested before the treatment commences. TRT might cause an increase in red blood cells to an alarming rate, which is why this stage is important.
The bloodwork is done to estimate the testosterone levels in the body. The recommended time for performing a total testosterone test is in the morning when the testosterone levels are highest in men.
Following up with your doctor will be important in case there will be a need to make any adjustments. The testosterone levels will also change after the treatment starts, so it is important to frequently check the levels.
After all tests and health assessments are done, your doctor will create a tailored treatment plan just for you.
Benefits of TRT
While a lot of aging men struggle with low-T which significantly affects their lifestyle, the potential of testosterone replacement therapy for men is unrivaled. TRT benefits for men are manifold, and below is a highlight of some of them.
Mental Ability and Memory Improvement
When it comes to improving memory, focus, and mental ability, TRT does a great job. The cognitive ability starts to dwindle as a man continues to age, especially from middle age. The older you get, the more information slips your mind, while grasping and processing new information becomes a difficult task. You start having problems with making up your mind and important decisions as testosterone levels reduce in the body.
Undertaking testosterone replacement therapy helps to restore cognitive ability, sharpens memory, as well as enhancing your problem-solving ability and focus.
In the long-run, TRT helps with mental agility which overall impacts how you perform your duties on a daily basis.
Testosterone replacement therapy can also impact energy levels in the body. A 25-year-old man is more energetic than a 50-year-old man, and this is linked to low testosterone levels in the body. Even with other possible reasons, sluggishness and tiredness at an older age might be a result of Low-T, even though it does not directly affect the energy levels in the body.
One way that TRT increases energy is through improving insulin sensitivity which plays a significant role in fat loss. By boosting the number of red blood cells in the body, TRT helps to increase physical stamina which even increases motivation during exercise.
Also, the relationship between testosterone and energy increase might not be directly linked but through the other benefits of TRT.
Since TRT has a general effect on cognitive ability, this helps to improve sleep.
While the amount of sleep does not affect the testosterone levels in the body, low-T is associated with insomnia and sleep disturbances. Low testosterone levels may also result in the different effects of depression. This leaves you distracted, unsettled, and more agitated which affects sleep at night. So, testosterone deficiency does not directly affect sleep patterns but rather causes symptoms linked to depression which in turn affects sleep.
The levels of testosterone in the body often affect the synchronization that your brain requires to initiate deep sleep. So, getting TRT helps to boost this synchronization in turn boosting deeper, and restful sleep.
Boosts Heart Health
Numerous studies have shown that older men with Low-T have a higher risk of heart diseases when compared to younger ones with higher testosterone. While there are concerns about TRT being one of the causes of heart diseases, testosterone can help enhance cholesterol, markers of triglycerides. In fact, low levels of testosterone are linked to higher risks of cardiovascular diseases and heart attack.
Increased visceral fat, which is usually found around the midriff area is harmful to the health but through TRT, it can be reduced. Excess visceral fat does not only increase the risk of heart disease but also colon cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Reduces Fat Mass
In one way or another, testosterone plays a role in maintaining metabolism. A drop in testosterone levels in men might lead to fat increase in the body which is why a lot of men with low-T are in most instances, overweight. Fat stored in the belly carries aromatase, enzymes that produce estrogen by breaking down the testosterone in the body.
Due to low-T, the body lacks the ability to evenly distribute fat in the body. In fact, a lot of people who suffer from low-T struggle with dieting. Hence, TRT treatment allows men to benefit through an even fat distribution throughout the body and managing dieting.
Low-T is a well-known culprit for libido and erectile dysfunction in middle-aged and old men. Oftentimes, erectile dysfunction is linked to depression, obesity, poor heart health, and lack of confidence which are all symptoms of Low-T. Chances are that a TRT patient will beat erectile dysfunction since they experience muscle gain, confidence boost, weight loss, more happiness, and better cardiovascular function after the treatment.
The secretion of gonadotropin-releasing hormones (GnRH) is done in the brain, in return sending signals in the testicles for the production of testosterone. So, TRT is not responsible for sperm production rather helps to coordinate the passing of signals from the brain to the testicles.
Improved Muscle Mass
TRT works incredibly to increase muscle mass, but should not be used to completely replace healthy work out routines. Instead, it should be used to supplement it for better results. As testosterone declines as one continues to age, this slows down metabolism which increases storage of fat, especially visceral fat. Hence, testosterone an important component for building muscle mass through activating protein synthesis.
Testosterone replacement therapy is not the fountain of youth as most people perceive it. As the market widens, there is a flooding of different information about what it does and doesn’t do. Starting the treatment might not work right away, and it is also important to understand that the process works differently for each patient. Regardless of your age or the symptoms you are experiencing, a good provider should be able to create a workable treatment plan for you.