Hormones and their proper level are vital for our normal well-being. However, the endocrine system is quite sophisticated and can be easily disturbed by some diseases or the harmful influence of the outer factors. Moreover, certain hormonal changes are inevitable due to the aging process. Talking about men, their main hormone is testosterone. When its level drops, it leads to lower libido, changes in appearance and mood and may even provoke other illnesses. Therefore, modern medicine provides testosterone replacement therapy or TRT for short. Let’s unveil all its special features and rules of implementation.
What is Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT)?
If the body does not produce enough testosterone, we can cope with the situation by providing it as an outer dosage form. This type of treatment is prescribed when the hormone levels drop below 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl) of the blood. This data was provided by the American Urological Association.
This means that the first step is always diagnostics and the blood test that determines the concentration of the main male hormone. Moreover, such tests are usually done several times because the body may produce more or less depending on the various factors.
Thus, if the concentration is low and there are no other ways to improve the situation, TRT is prescribed.
To understand the advantages of this approach, we should first mention the action of the hormone itself. It takes part in:
- regulation of libido;
- appearance of facial and body hair;
- distribution of fat in the body;
- growth of the muscles;
- regulation of the density of bones;
- production of red blood cells;
- sperm production.
That is why its proper level is associated with the normal proceeding of all these processes and overall well-being.
Thus, one of the advantages of TRT is increased sex drive. The feeling of manhood is directly related to testosterone levels, as well as overall activity and the ability to act quickly and make swift decisions. This hormone activates the body of a man. The higher its concentration, the more active the lifestyle, especially in the issues related to the intimate life.
Improved energy levels
Testosterone is an essential part of the metabolism. As we have already mentioned, it participates in the formation of bones, muscles and red blood cells. The latter carries oxygen through the body that is the primary source of energy.
That is why this hormone is also related to energy levels and it also improves mood that helps to act more boldly.
The condition of the muscular-skeletal system of a man is largely dependent on testosterone levels. The normal concentration of this compound pushes the body toward the creation of additional muscular mass and improvement of bone density. On the contrary, in case of the hormone deficiency, the bones become fragile and prone to fractures.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy Types
Various dosage forms exist on the modern market. They differ in doses and rules of administration and are chosen according to the condition of the patient.
Gels or patches
Different topical dosage forms are easy to apply and are usually utilized on a daily basis. The active ingredient from the is absorbed gradually causing more stable testosterone levels. This group includes:
- Topical patches. They are applied to the skin for 24 hours. The average dose is 2-5 mg. Sometimes these patches cause skin irritation and some patients do not like the fact that they are seen. At the same time, the toxicity level for this dosage form is lower compared to pills.
- A topical gel is applied in a dose from 40 to 100 mg per day. Usually, the doctors prescribe the lowest dose and then gradually increase it if needed. After the application of this gel, one should avoid skin-on-skin contact with other people for at least 6 hours. This is especially important while interacting with children and pregnant women, who can be influenced by the hormones.
- One more type is a buccal patch that is put above the upper teeth. It works for 12 hours and contains on average 30 mg of an active substance. It should be applied twice per day. Sometimes these patches cause headaches and irritation of the mouth.
This type is one of the most common and affordable and goes in two ways, namely:
- a short-acting cure with a shot every 1 or 2 weeks;
- a long-acting cure with a pause for 4 weeks after the first shot and 10 weeks after the second and the following shots.
A short-acting injection is made under the skin or into the muscle. The second option is to shoot into the muscles only. The patient should visit a doctor to get the dose but he does not need to worry about its accuracy.
In this case, the dose of the pills ranges from 200 to 400 mg. The tablets are usually taken two times per day. This seems easy and convenient. At the same time, pills are more expensive than other dosage forms and may lead to liver damage.
In addition, among the possible side effects, we should mention hypertension and stroke. That is why, only a doctor can recommend this dosage form after an examination of the patient and his overall health condition.
Small pellets with this hormone can be implanted under the skin in the upper hip or buttock. They dissolve slowly and provide the hormone for 3 or even 6 months. The dose is chosen individually.
This surgical procedure is considered minor and not harmful and is performed under local anesthesia. It is one of the most convenient ways to provide the hormone to the body.
How Do I Get Testosterone Replacement Therapy?
This type of therapy belongs to the prescription group. The reason for this is the high activity of this hormone and the need to select a dose individually and control the course of the treatment.
That is why, if your symptoms resemble testosterone deficiency:
- visit the doctor and answer to all his questions;
- pass the blood test several times;
- get a prescription and recommendations on the course, intake rules, etc.
Nowadays, one can get such a consultation online but it is always the first step toward this type of therapy.
The cost of this therapy per year varies from $1,650 to $3,200 and depends on:
- the chosen medicine;
- its dosage;
- administration mode;
- insurance issues as not all medicines can be covered;
- fees for the visits to the doctor and laboratory tests.
Risks and Side Effects
As with any other therapy, this one does not proceed without certain possible adverse effects. The most common among them include the following.
One of the effects of testosterone on the body is the increased production of red blood cells. Thus, when the body starts to get a higher concentration of the compound from the dosage form, it may start to overproduce erythrocytes and this condition is called polycythemia.
It hinders the proper blood flow and may lead to clotting and further problems. That is why the blood formula should be controlled during this type of treatment.
TRT influences the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body and that is why it has an impact on the work of the respiratory system. Sleep apnea is one of the possible adverse effects that may appear in the patients who are prone to it.
When some of the body parts are swelled due to the excess of liquid, this condition is called edema. It may evolve under the influence of TRT because of its impact on the water and salt balance. Testosterone retains some concentration of sodium and this leads to swelling.
Therefore, patients who are prescribed this treatment, should follow a healthy diet and limit the consumption of salty and ready-made products.
This condition means the enlargement of the breasts of a man and their high sensitivity and soreness. Usually, it appears due to a hormonal imbalance. In the case of TRT, the presence of a higher testosterone concentration may interfere with other hormones and lead to this side effect.
Is Testosterone Replacement Therapy Safe?
As with any other treatment, this one also has certain risks and limitations. Apart from the above-mentioned possible adverse effects, the following issues may appear:
- acne and various skin reactions;
- noncancerous growth of the prostate;
- development of prostate cancer.
However, these risks do not mean that one has to reject this therapy. The main thing is to get a proper consultation and get the treatment under the guidance of the specialist. Patients who follow all the recommendations and regularly check their overall health, rarely get side effects or unpleasant consequences.
Moreover, TRT is always a long process and sometimes it even becomes life-long. That is why one should be conscious about its rules and follow the individual dosage and other pieces of advice. In this case, the therapy is going to be beneficial and helpful in achieving those aims that were initially set.
To conclude, one should be accurate with hormones and utilize them only according to the prescription to avoid side effects. At the same time, such approaches as TRT are more than helpful for the patients and provide a perfect chance to live a full life. Therefore, do not neglect this opportunity and follow the given recommendations.
If the concentration of this hormone drops dramatically and other means do not improve the situation, then it is the best solution. However, the doctor should select the dose and type of this therapy.
It provides the needed concentration of this compound when the body is not producing it by itself.
This therapy increases your libido and overall activity, positively influences the condition of the muscular-skeletal system and brings back the feeling of real manhood.
You need to go to the consultation first and pass the blood test several times. If the concentration of the hormone is lower than the norm, you will get the prescription.