Is Testosterone Replacement Therapy Safe?

Is testosterone replacement therapy safe

Is Testosterone Replacement Therapy safe?

Low testosterone levels affect millions of men worldwide and have been linked to decreased libido, weight gain, and loss of muscle mass. Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) aims at correcting this imbalance by administering exogenous testosterone. But how safe is TRT, and should you consider it if you have low testosterone levels?

Testosterone replacement therapy, in general, is considered to be safe if prescribed by your doctor after carefully considering all the possible risk factors. TRT can help men with low testosterone levels to reverse symptoms associated with the condition and improve general quality of life.

In the following sections of this post, we will address a few questions regarding TRT and its utility, potential risks that you should be aware of, and scientific evidence regarding its safety and efficacy.

What are the signs of low testosterone?

The main reason for needing TRT in the first place is if you have low testosterone levels. When your body produces less testosterone than required, you might start experiencing certain signs and symptoms. The symptoms of low testosterone can affect your mind, body, and sex life. 

Effect of low testosterone on your body

Testosterone is an important anabolic hormone responsible for developing and maintaining muscle tissue, mental health, energy and regulating metabolic activity. When your testosterone levels fall below optimum, you might start experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Loss of muscle and bone mass
  • Low energy
  • Low sex drive
  • Increased tendency to accumulate fat
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Hot flashes 

If TRT is administered safely, these symptoms can be reversed. However, the mere presence of some of these symptoms might not be a good indicator of low testosterone level. As a consequence, your doctor might run a blood test to ensure that the symptoms are indeed due to testosterone deficiency. 

Effect of testosterone on your mind

Your mental health is closely tied with testosterone levels in your body. Men with low testosterone are more prone to develop mental health conditions, including depression, lack of sleep, and difficulty focusing. The effect of testosterone on your mental health can be more pronounced than your physical health. Hence, it is essential to get yourself tested if you suspect that your mental health issues stem from a lack of testosterone. TRT has been proven to be effective in overcoming these symptoms.  

Effect of testosterone on sex drive

Low testosterone is associated strongly with a loss of sex drive and libido. It is a key hormone responsible for erection, and lack of testosterone may lead to erectile dysfunction in men. A drop in sexual performance is often one of the biggest drives for men to seek medical opinions about their hormonal issues. A carefully administered TRT has been shown to improve erectile function and libido in men with low testosterone levels. 

What is Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT), and what does it do to your body? 

Before considering TRT, you must understand what it is and how it can affect your body. It is important to be fully aware of the potential risks involved to make the best choice for you.

TRT can be administered in various forms, from injections, transdermal patches to gels. Your doctor will inform you about the different forms available and their advantages and disadvantages. In general, injections are considered the most effective and safest form of TRT.

One of the most important things to understand before discussing TRT further is that it is not for everybody. Not all cases of low testosterone levels will be treated with TRT. While some men can be ideal candidates for the therapy, the adverse effects in some men might outweigh the benefits, especially if the patient is overweight or has other medical conditions. Hence it is essential to consult with your doctor before deciding on testosterone supplementation. 

TRT is best suited to men who are in good health despite their low testosterone levels. 

TRT is specifically designed to help men with hypogonadism who have symptoms of low testosterone. Some men will have lower than average testosterone levels but no noticeable symptoms. In these men, testosterone replacement therapy is not recommended.

TRT is ideal for young and middle-aged men, who are not able to produce enough testosterone and have symptoms that are impacting their lives. If you fall under this demographic, TRT is a very safe option for you as long as it is provided by doctors with experience in this area and with careful monitoring.

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The ADAM questionnaire has been shown to have 88% sensitivity in testing for low testosterone.

What are some risk factors associated with TRT?

Whether you are young or old, TRT does come with its own set of adverse effects and risk factors. As you replace your naturally existing hormone levels with a synthetic one, it is common to have some side effects as the level is often higher than your body is accustomed to. Side effects are more common in certain individuals – most commonly in men with high oestrogen levels. Hence, it is important to ensure that you are the right candidate before considering testosterone replacement therapy. This might mean losing weight or changing other lifestyle factors before starting TRT.

Some of the risks associated with TRT include the following-

  • Increased pimples and acne
  • Enlargement of the prostate
  • Low sperm count
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Increased risk of sleep apnoea – especially if overweight
  • Shrinking of the testicles
  • Increased risk of blood clot formation due to increase red blood cell production

Although some of the side effects mentioned above are rare, it’s important to realise that they are all possible if TRT is not administered properly or is abused. Monitoring of levels whilst on treatment is the most important thing when taking testosterone replacement therapy.

One of the potentially dangerous and life-threatening issues that is sometimes linked with TRT is prostate cancer. Whilst TRT does not cause prostate cancer, if you already have prostate cancer then there is some evidence (not conclusive at this point) that higher testosterone levels could make the cancer grow more quickly.

Hence, it is essential for older men (over 45 years of age) to get screened for prostate cancer before starting the treatment.  

How to go about obtaining TRT? 

The best step forward is to be honest in assessing your health before considering TRT. You must understand that you might not be a good candidate for the therapy, and if that is the case, you may be advised to make some changes before starting testosterone replacement therapy.

Talk to your doctor

If you suspect that symptoms that you are experiencing are due to low testosterone, the first thing that you should do is to consult a doctor, or a clinic such as Optimale. A good doctor can accurately determine whether you are a good candidate for TRT or not. When you talk to a doctor, ask any questions you might have regarding the safety of the treatment. Make sure to disclose any health issues, even if you do not think they would play a role in deciding your eligibility for TRT. Ensure you are talking to a specialist who knows this treatment well, most GPs and even endocrinologists do not specialise in TRT.

In most cases, your doctor will order a blood testosterone level test to determine the exact level of the hormone in your blood. Once the results come back (you will usually require at least two tests to ensure you are fit for treatment), your doctor will help you understand what they mean and plan TRT if you are a good candidate for the treatment. 

Understand the risks

Your safety should be your prime concern. Understanding the potential risks go a long way in ensuring you get the best results. If you know the potential risks, you might be in a better position to deal with any side effects, if any. 

Pay attention to your health.

One of the best things you can do if you are considering TRT is to take very good care of your health. Maintaining a healthy body will also ensure the best possible results for you when the treatment begins. 

How is Testosterone Replacement Therapy administered? 

TRT is available in a few different types that can suit most patients:

  • Transdermal patches: There are several once-a-day transdermal patches that you can use to supplement testosterone without a needle – these aren’t usually recommended due to issues with skin irritation.
  • Gels: Testosterone can be absorbed directly into the skin when applied in a gel formulation. Several formulations available in the market come as transparent, odourless gels or creams ideal for application on your skin. 
  • Injections and implants: Testosterone can be directly injected into your muscles or implanted as pellets for a sustained release effect. Once injected, these pellets slowly release testosterone over a long period, leading to fewer fluctuations in blood levels. 

Although oral testosterone pills are available, most testosterone pills taken by the oral route can harm your liver. As gels, injections, and patches can bypass the liver; they are safer for TRT.  

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Potential benefits of TRT

It is not easy to predict what you will experience after TRT, as every man is different. However, here are some of the most common benefits:

  • Improvement in energy levels
  • Improved sex drive
  • Improved bone density
  • Increased muscle mass
  • Increase sexual performance 

Some men also report an elevation in mood after receiving TRT. As improvements in mood are highly subjective, it isn’t easy to predict. 

It is also possible that you might not experience much difference after receiving TRT. About 10% of men experience great results, while 10% do not experience any effect at all. A detailed meta-analysis revealed that Testosterone Replacement Therapy does improve quality of life in men with hypogonadism. 

So, is Testosterone Replacement Therapy Safe? 

The shortest answer to this question is yes! Testosterone Replacement Therapy is safe. However, safety is contingent on some key factors. The therapy is safe only if prescribed by a medical professional after carefully considering every possible risk factor. TRT has a great track record for good results in most patients, as long as side effects are managed and blood test results are monitored by an experienced doctor.

So, if you are interested in TRT, please contact us to learn more information about how to get on this life-saving treatment.

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