Testosterone is a primary sex hormone responsible for developing the male reproductive organs and promoting male sex characteristics, such as increased muscle mass, deepening of the voice, body hair growth, and so on.
Testosterone replacement therapy (TTS), also known as androgen replacement therapy, refers to a form of hormone therapy used in treating patients with a low amount of testosterone in their blood, either because of an underlying condition or their age.
Recently, the treatment has become increasingly popular because of its benefits such as better sexual performance, muscle building, increased energy levels, and much more. But, there are still a lot of things people don’t know about testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), such as its uses, its side effects, cost of use, how it should be consumed, and what to avoid when taking it.
Why Does Testosterone Decrease?
As you get older, your body begins to produce less testosterone. This is completely normal, as the male body’s testosterone production levels reduce about 1 to 2 percent every year. This process usually begins around your early 30s or late 20s.
While most men experience a gradual decrease in testosterone levels, rapid reduction in the production of testosterone in the body could lead to a decreased sex drive, increased insomnia, erectile dysfunction, reduced sperm production in the body, fewer spontaneous erections, rapid loss of muscle, obvious weight gain, loss of bone density, and so on.
The best way to know if you have low testosterone levels is by seeing a healthcare professional, and taking a testosterone level test. It is a simple blood test that helps determine the testosterone levels in your body. Most medical providers require that you take this test before prescribing testosterone replacement therapy.
You may also need to do the testosterone level test multiple times, as different factors such as diet or fitness, could potentially affect the level of testosterone production in your body.
How Much Does Testosterone Replacement Therapy Cost?
There are various types of testosterone replacement therapy, with some being more expensive than others. The cost will vary depending on the type of TRT medication you’re prescribed. People with health insurance and those seeking out testosterone replacement therapy to treat underlying health conditions may also get it cheaper than usual.
On average, you should be expecting to pay anything between $20 to $1000 each month. However, this price is largely influenced by a bunch of other factors such as your location, how the testosterone replacement therapy is administered, your level of insurance, the type of medication you’re given, whether or not there is a generic version available, and so on.
When considering the cost of treatment, remember that it does not permanently increase your testosterone levels, neither is it capable of treating the cause of low testosterone levels in your body. It simply boosts them temporarily. Thus, you may need to be on testosterone replacement therapy for the rest of your life.
For young boys who haven’t gone through puberty yet, and elderly men above 40, testosterone is often given in small doses. This helps to avoid an excessive increase in energy levels or libido. Once the testosterone replacement therapy has started, the doctor will monitor the testosterone levels in your blood to see how it changes, and if they need to adjust the doses depending on those changes.
There are several ways to administer testosterone to a patient. While most men will use testosterone injections, other methods can be used to administer TST. These methods depend on a variety of factors including your medical needs, personal preference, cost, convenience, etc.
Some methods are done daily, while others could be on a weekly or monthly basis. Some popular methods of taking testosterone replacement therapy include;
- Injected testosterone
- Testosterone cream
- Testosterone gel
- Oral medication
- Testosterone implants
- Transdermal testosterone patches
There’s also a minor form of testosterone replacement therapy that involves rubbing the testosterone all over your gums twice each day.
How Testosterone Replacement Therapy Works
Traditionally, testosterone replacement therapy has been used to treat men who suffer from hypogonadism. This is a medical condition defined by reduced production of sex hormones and testosterone in the body. This condition is also defined by clinical symptoms of testosterone deficiency such as male breast growth, lack of body hair, etc.
As most causes of hypogonadism and other testosterone deficiency diseases can’t be treated, most men who take testosterone replacement therapy will have to receive it for the rest of their lives.
For those patients with hypogonadism, testosterone replacement therapy can help increase their body’s hormone levels, enhance their sperm count, and improve their libido and sexual function.
Some conditions that greatly reduce your testosterone levels include genetic disorders, autoimmune conditions, radiation therapy, infections, surgeries on your sex organs, undescended testicles, and so on. In all these medical conditions, testosterone replacement therapy is able to help balance the amount of testosterone in the blood of the patients.
Who Can’t Use Testosterone Replacement Therapy?
While testosterone replacement therapy has its obvious benefits, it is not recommended for some people with certain conditions. It is important that you inform your doctor if you are;
- Above 40 Years Of Age – At this age, testosterone levels in the body would have dropped dramatically. There is no scientific evidence that testosterone replacement therapy can help men at this age. However, other treatments could be considered.
- Breast Or Prostate Cancer – Testosterone replacement therapy cannot be used to treat men with either of these cancers. This is because the treatment could end up fostering the growth of the cancer.
- Athletes – Performing athletes are advised to not use testosterone replacement therapy as it sometimes acts as a performance-enhancing drug.
It is also recommended that you inform your doctor if;
- You haven’t reached puberty
- You have obstructive sleep apnoea
- You’ve experienced heart or kidney failure
- You have severe hypertension
- You have epilepsy
Testosterone cannot be used to treat erectile dysfunction or infertility.
Benefits of Testosterone Replacement Therapy
As testosterone is the hormone in charge of dominant male characteristics, effective testosterone replacement therapy can bring a lot of short and long-term benefits.
Some benefits testosterone replacement therapy provides include;
- Increased sex drive
- It improves the users memory and cognition
- Increased libido
- Enhanced mood
Testosterone replacement therapy also comes with a lot of physical advantages such as increased energy levels, loss of weight, increased muscle strength, increased bone density, and so on. People who take testosterone replacement therapy also have a lower chance of becoming obese, having diabetes or anemia, and a reduced chance of suffering from cardiovascular diseases or osteoporosis.
It is because of this that many athletes continue to seek out testosterone replacement therapy to help boost their athletic performance and gain more muscle mass. However, buying and consuming testosterone supplements without a prescription from a medical personnel is illegal in many countries, including the US.
However, this is illegal and may do more harm than good. It is recommended that you look for alternative ways to enhance your athletic performance, or build muscle.
Side Effects and Risks Associated With Testosterone Replacement Therapy
Patients who use testosterone replacement therapy rarely experience any side effects. However, they could happen as a result of various factors.
The side effects depend largely on your age, the type of testosterone replacement therapy you undergo, pre-existing health conditions, and how large your dosage is. It is important that you are aware of all the risks involved with testosterone treatment therapy before going through with it.
These side effects may include;
- Difficulty speaking
- Low sperm count
- Risk of heart attack
- Chest pains
- Sleep apnoea
- Swelling around the body
- Risk of stroke
- Skin diseases (mostly common with transdermal patches)
- Development of breast tissue in men
- Reduction in penis and testicle size.
- Polycythaemia (mostly common with injectable testosterone and in older men)
- Mania (gotten when too much testosterone is taken at once)
- Risk of infertility
TST has also been known to increase the risk of getting certain health conditions such as prostate diseases, liver diseases, and certain types of cancer.
Testosterone replacement therapy has long been a recommended treatment for those suffering from hypogonadism and other testosterone deficiency conditions. However, its benefits and risks still remain highly important
For athletes and bodybuilders, testosterone replacement therapy may not be the best option due to its increased side effects and risks. Therefore, it is advisable that you try out other certified testosterone boosters that can enhance your abilities, and give you the muscle mass you desire.
For those looking to take testosterone replacement therapy for treatment reasons, be sure to discuss thoroughly with your doctor beforehand. This can help you determine how useful testosterone replacement therapy can be for you, and whether it’s safe for you to use.
Even after recommendation by a medical professional, your dosage and consumption of testosterone supplements must be monitored by a certified medical professional. This way, they can spot any unwanted side effects you may experience early on.