What You Need to Know About TRT

A lot has been said about testosterone replacement therapy which is growing in popularity day by day. One of the reasons why this treatment is being used more is because of its heightened media coverage. Of course, it didn’t just find itself in the media overnight. There has been proof that TRT actually produces good results but this hasn’t come without a good share of criticism.

But before taking sides, it is good to look at the bigger picture. The levels of testosterone naturally reduce with age. As a man approaches his forties, he almost inevitably starts dealing with rapidly dropping testosterone which is also referred to as the hormone of masculinity. On average, men experience a 1% decrease in testosterone every year from around their mid-thirties. This means that, by the time you are getting to your sixties, you are expected to have really low levels of the hormone. Low testosterone causes lethargy, reduces sex drive and muscle bulk. These symptoms can lead to poor mental state and low self-esteem which can be detrimental.

Our daily lives might contribute further to the dwindling testosterone levels. Poor diet, inadequate sleep and environmental exposure to toxins all work to worsen the situation. It is not surprising that more and more men have to go for testosterone replacement therapy these days.

What Is TRT?

Simply put, TRT stands for supplementing the body with external testosterone. This can come in many different forms such as injections, patches or pills. Injections are used widely because it is easier to measure the amount and testosterone goes directly into the blood flow. Gels and creams can be rubbed onto the skin but they are more difficult to dose. Subdermal implants are another convenient way of administering testosterone. Once the implant is in place, there is a sustained release of the hormone for the required period of time. This is convenient since you won’t have to keep up with injection schedules. However, some men would rather schedule the injections on a monthly or weekly basis than have a pellet loaded with hormone planted under their skin. Oral formulations of testosterone are available but they need to be taken with caution because they can be tough on certain body organs.

People are turning to TRT to regain their wellbeing and experience life with the youthful energy which many aren’t ready to relinquish just yet. It is called replacement therapy because the whole point is to replenish the natural hormone supply in the body. Under normal circumstances, we produce our own testosterone through the endocrine system. Simply put, there is a feedback system linking the brain to the testicles. When there is not enough testosterone in circulation, the brain cells alert the testicles to manufacture more of it and vice versa. Things start going wrong when this feedback loop is interfered with. One of the ways to alter the feedback is the use of external testosterone. When this happens, the body detects testosterone in circulation and therefore shuts down its internal synthesis processes to maintain optimum levels. One significant downside that should be mentioned here is that it might be challenging to reverse this once you have been supplementing with testosterone for long.

Perhaps you have heard about the use of steroids among bodybuilders and you are wondering if this is the same as TRT. Yes, the substances are similar in composition. Testosterone is a steroid hormone and bodybuilders inject it into their bodies to achieve rapid muscle growth. But oftentimes, the weightlifters tend to overuse testosterone. In pursuit of more rapid progress, they inject high doses into their bodies and this can be harmful.

The correct approach to TRT involves a controlled mode of testosterone administration where the use of the external hormone is necessitated by an established need. Before giving the meds, the doctor has to question you about the symptoms, do a thorough examination and run lab tests that reveal testosterone deficiency. Therapy is then given based on the findings. The dosage is determined by the current testosterone levels.

It is worth mentioning that the results of a hormonal lab workup should be interpreted by a health provider because it is not always about the total testosterone levels. Testosterone can also exist in bound form. You can therefore have enough total testosterone yet the amounts that are free and available for use by your body are low. This is why the doctor can prescribe testosterone supplementation even when the total readings seem to be okay.

Normal testosterone levels range from 300 to 1000 nanograms per deciliter. Therefore, many practitioners will start thinking of the need to use replacement therapy when these levels approach the lower limits. Naturally, young men tend to have levels towards the upper limits. When, the levels start coming down to around 400ng/dl, it can be worrisome. But remember it is not a one-fits all kind of affair. It’s upon your doctor to tie up your symptoms and lab results to come up with the best mode of treatment for you.

In many cases, the doctor doesn’t go straight to prescribing meds. They may recommend some nonmedical practices such as improving sleep and diet. This restraint comes from the fact that testosterone replacement therapy requires commitment and you don’t just start and stop at your convenience. What’s more, you need to monitor the hormone levels when you are undergoing therapy just to make sure you are on the right path and assess the need of dose adjustments.

What Are the Benefits of TRT?

Testosterone replacement therapy can produce truly life changing effects that will make you feel alive again. The hormone affects different systems inside your body to bring back that youthful vigor that makes your days worthwhile. If you have been experiencing the symptoms of testosterone deficiency, you will feel a huge difference when the therapy is initiated. People with low testosterone levels tend to feel low and are often irritable. Studies in people with hypogonadism showed an improvement in their mood and affect when they were treated with testosterone.

It has been shown that testosterone deficiency is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The replacement therapy helps to reduce the chances of you getting the disease and old age will be much more fun. Also, testosterone has a role in sharpening the cognitive ability of an individual. Normal testosterone levels are linked to faster processing speed, improved mathematical abilities and better memory.

If you desire to gain some muscle bulk or lose weight, testosterone supplements will be very helpful in that regard. You achieve even better outcomes when you complement this with a good exercise plan and a healthy diet that is aimed at building muscle tissue. Testosterone will also boost your endurance by raising your exercise threshold. You will be able to exercise more and recover well from the workout sessions because of the boosted energy levels.

Testosterone also helps in keeping a healthy cardiovascular system as it stimulates the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow. The red cells are responsible for transporting oxygen into the body tissues from the lungs. Health experts have stated that people with low testosterone levels have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular conditions such as stroke and heart attack.

Besides, testosterone replacement therapy helps in strengthening bones. When taken in the right amounts, the hormone facilitates mineralization of bones leading to more weight bearing capabilities. TRT can therefore help to prevent osteoporosis which might occur with ageing.

Finally, testosterone helps to boost libido. The hormone level rises in the body when one is sexually excited. If you have enough testosterone in circulation, you will have better sex, just as simple as that. This is not to mean that testosterone replacement therapy is a definitive treatment for erectile dysfunction. ED has many causes and treatment should be targeted.

What Are the Risks of TRT?

Unfortunately, TRT isn’t entirely risk-free. Of course, we all desire those amazing bodies with a healthy amount of muscle and no extra fat. We would also prefer to be in a good mood all the time and have that youthful energy flowing every day. But just like any other medical treatment, testosterone has its side effects and other health risks. Before the doctor recommends testosterone replacement, they normally do a risk versus benefit assessment. If the benefits outweigh the risks, then you can get started on the therapy.

One of the effects of testosterone therapy is baldness. This happens when testosterone is converted to dihydrotestosterone or DHT. People who have a family history of baldness are more likely to experience this.

Testosterone therapy can also cause acne because the hormone promotes production of excess skin oil.

Conversion of testosterone in the body can result in other unwanted effects such as increased breast tissue, a condition that is referred to as gynecomastia. Some people have reduced testicular size or testicular atrophy as well as reduced sperm count.

As we mentioned above, testosterone promotes the synthesis of red blood cells. In extreme situations, this leads to thickening of blood, which then impairs oxygen supply to the tissues and predisposes the blood vessels to clogging. The levels of testosterone need to be monitored closely when one is undergoing therapy to prevent such occurrences. In some instances, the doctor might have to prescribe aspirin to counter the effects of thickened blood.

Alternative Ways of Increasing Testosterone

If you are considering TRT, you might want to try out some nonmedical methods before you go for hormonal replacement. You can boost your testosterone levels using some foods or natural supplements. Some of the foods that can be helpful include tuna, oysters and garlic. The herbs that are believed to boost testosterone include Malaysian ginseng, ashwagandha, stinging nettle, yohimbe and pine bark extract. Vitamin D and zinc supplements are also considered essential in boosting testosterone.

Before you go for testosterone replacement therapy, visit your doctor for conclusive assessment. It is not wise to buy testosterone over the counter without a prescription because some of its effects can be damaging. When you decide to go for TRT, you need to understand what is at stake and be ready to walk the path. Your doctor’s evaluation and your will to achieve the desired outcomes will be the keys to success.

author: Dr. Marian Davis

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