14 Jul The Pros and Cons of Testosterone Replacement Therapy.
Once hailed as the ultimate solution for older men, testosterone use has transformed men’s outlook on vitality and energy. As we look into its benefits, the question arises – is it time to reassess the potential of this powerful hormone in enhancing quality of life?
Testosterone is a naturally occurring hormone in men, playing a crucial role in maintaining muscle mass, ensuring bone health, and fueling sexual drive. However, starting from their mid-30s, men typically experience an annual decline of about 1% in their testosterone levels. This gradual dip may eventually culminate in hypogonadism, a condition characterized by low testosterone levels, which affects approximately 1 in 5 men in their 60s. The likelihood of this condition increases as men grow older. To counteract this, Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) has been developed to boost these dwindling testosterone levels.
TRT, however, has experienced its fair share of highs and lows over the past two decades. Between 2001 and 2013, prescriptions for TRT surged by 300%, led by marketing claims of restored energy, alertness, mental clarity, and sexual function. But, over the next three years, this number dropped by half as research began to unmask potential risks, specifically cardiac health.
In 2014, the FDA mandated that a cautionary label be included with TRT prescriptions, notifying men that TRT might heighten the risks of stroke and heart attacks. More recently, research has associated TRT with increased chances of venous thromboembolism, a potentially lethal type of blood clot.
What is low testosterone?
The testosterone levels in men fluctuate naturally and range from 300 ng/dL to 1000 ng/dL. When these levels plunge below average, it’s recognized as low testosterone and can potentially trigger emotional and physical changes. These changes can include decreased libido, infertility, reduced muscle mass, and increased body fat. They may also have sleep issues and experience depression, low mood stress and changes in cognitive function and anxiety. For some men, these changes can be noticeable, while for others, they may be less severe. However, as time passes, these changes will likely become more extreme.
Getting older can often lead to a dip in testosterone levels for men. It’s not unusual to see testosterone production slow down as early as the late 20s. This decline continues, with men typically experiencing a 1% drop yearly. While this might seem like just another part of growing older, it’s not as innocent as it may appear.
In fact, studies show that up to 40% of men who are 45 or older have noticeably low testosterone levels. But aging can be only one factor. The fall in testosterone could also come about as a result of:
- Damage to the testicles
- Surgical removal of the testicles
- Pituitary gland disorders
- Undergoing chemotherapy
- Adverse reactions to certain medications
- Congenital hypogonadism
- Genetic conditions causing lifelong low testosterone
Pros and cons of testosterone therapy
Testosterone therapy, often viewed as a potential solution for low testosterone, promises to rectify this condition’s symptoms and cascading effects. Unlike over-the-counter testosterone “boosters,” TRT is a medically prescribed treatment using exogenous testosterone to normalize your hormonal levels. Like any treatment, however, TRT has its own set of advantages and disadvantages that you’d need to consider.
The benefits of testosterone therapy
Testosterone therapy boasts numerous benefits. A comprehensive 2009 metareview revealed that TRT could offer a broad spectrum of benefits for men, which range from enhanced sexual desire, better bone density, increased muscle mass, improved mood, boosted cognition, and improved quality of life. TRT can even potentially mitigate the chance of heart disease.
So how does this impact you? In essence, it could translate to:
- Boosted vitality
- Heightened sexual desire
- Improved mood
- Enhanced focus
- Better sleep quality
- Increased muscle mass
Simply put, testosterone therapy can replenish what was lost due to the decline in your testosterone levels.
Potential drawbacks of testosterone therapy
Like any medical intervention, testosterone therapy brings potential drawbacks and side effects. Generally, most men experience minimal side effects. Some have reported acne, breast or ankle swelling, and sleep-related breathing issues. However, these occurrences are not the norm.
More importantly, testosterone therapy could have enduring health consequences for some men. The health of the prostate, for instance, was historically thought to be affected by testosterone therapy. Yet, research findings have been inconsistent. While some studies suggest a correlation between testosterone therapy and an increased risk of prostate cancer, others indicate no significant association, which underscores the necessity of personalized medical consultation and continuous monitoring during therapy.
The impact of testosterone therapy on cardiac health has also been a subject of ongoing investigation. Several studies point to an elevated risk of cardiac incidents, while others state a potential decline in these occurrences. Given these conflicting findings, working closely with your healthcare provider to identify the most suitable approach is important.
Finally, testosterone therapy may decrease sperm count, impacting fertility during the treatment. As such, it is not suggested for men who aspire to be biological parents in the future.
What question should you ask your doctor about TRT?
Here are some questions you can ask your doctor regarding testosterone replacement therapy:
Could something other than low testosterone be responsible for my symptoms?
Understanding all potential causes of your symptoms is essential before jumping to conclusions about low testosterone.
If I start Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT), how long until I notice any improvements?
A comprehensive grasp of when you’ll see results from the therapy can provide you with a clear picture of the process.
Will Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) impact my capability to father children in the future?
This is an important question to address if you’re considering having children after beginning therapy.
Can I do anything to increase my testosterone levels naturally?
Exploring natural alternatives before therapeutic intervention is a healthy and proactive approach.
What are the potential side effects of Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT)?
Understanding the possible adverse effects will help you make an informed decision about your treatment options.
What could be the long-term effects of Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) on my health?
It’s essential to consider the long-term implications on your health before starting any therapy.
To understand more about the potential hormonal imbalances of TRT and learn more about a natural approach to hormone replacement therapy, contact us at Body Revolution Aesthetics & Wellness for a consultation.