Interest in Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) has grown increasingly popular because of the number of aging baby boomers and an intense advertising campaign aimed toward this demographic group.
Low testosterone can manifest itself in many unpleasant ways, including erectiile dysfunction, lack of libido, depression, muscle weakness, and even bone loss.
However, testosterone levels that are considered in the normal range can vary greatly among individuals, and many of the symptoms of low testosterone can result from other issues.
If you truly have low testosterone, TRT is as important for your health as insulin is to a diabetic. They best way to find out if you need TRT is to have your testosterone level checked. You can then decide if the benefits of TRT outweighs the risks in you specific case.
How do you get checked for low testosterone?
You must see a urologist, who will use an initial appointment to discuss your symptoms, then schedule a series of early morning appointments to draw blood for check your testosterone level. Tostosterone level is highest in the morning and lowest in the evening, so all tests must be done in the morning to get an accurate assessment.
Multiple tests are taken to ensure that a single low reading is not an aberration.
Because the range of normal testosterone levels in otherwise healthy men varies, the urologist may only suggest TRT if your level in on the lower end of the spectrum and other possible causes for your symptoms are ruled out.
What are the different methods used in TRT?
You may opt for biweekly injections of testosterone, which is a convenient method and economical method. However, your blood level will be at its highest on injection day and gradually fall until the next injection.
These are applied daily for the testosterone to be absorbed into the skin. Your testosterone level stays more consistent using this method, but it poses a risk of exposure to female family members and small children of either gender. Both can begin to acquire masculine traits such as excess body hair if they absorb testosterone.
You may choose to have slow release capsules implanted under a flap of skin. This method requires a small slit in the skin around your hip for the pellets to be inserted, and must be repeated every six months.
This is the most expensive method, but also very convenient. However, as with all surgical procedures, no matter how minor, there is always a risk of infection.
The main benefits of TRT
TRT hormone therapy will usually result in increased libido, an increase in ability to gain muscle mass, and a general feeling of well being. Hand and leg strength will often improve if they have been negatively affects by low testosterone, as well as erectile dysfunction.
Negative aspects of TRT
Raising testosterone levels can lead to aggressive behavior, excessive levels of red blood cells, and skin problems in some patients. It is also very detrimental for those with prostate cancer, which feeds on testosterone, which is why testing for prostate cancer is also performed when blood tests are done for testosterone.
If your testosterone levels are in the normal range, but you still want TRT, you will need to pay for it in cash, because insurance companies won't provide coverage.
Once you begin TRT, it is a lifetime commitment, because if you already have low testosterone, you will need to maintain a healthy level throughout your life. If you just want to try to feel younger and and begin TRT when your blood level is normal, your body will stop producing it in sufficient levels, and you will need to continue TRT indefinitely at your own cost.