What To Know Before Taking Testosterone
by Benjamin Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert
Written by Ben Bunting: BA, PGCert. (Sport & Exercise Nutrition) // British Army Physical Training Instructor // S&C Coach.
As we age, testosterone levels in our bodies naturally decrease. Some men have testosterone levels that are lower than average.
To counteract these symptoms, many men will consider testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT).
The Role of Testosterone in Males
Testosterone, an androgen produced by both men (Leydig cells in their testes), and women's ovaries.
It plays an essential part in male sexual development during puberty and adulthood, helping boys develop traits associated with masculinity such as body hair, facial hair, deeper voice tones, increased muscle mass and the production of sperm.
Testosterone levels tend to spike during adolescence and reach their highest point by late teens or early 20s; once this peak has been reached, its production declines annually--this process is known as andropause.
An individual's body can produce either more or less testosterone depending on various factors.
Testosterone works by binding to receptors in cells and activating or inhibiting specific proteins to respond to various situations by either activating or inhibiting specific receptors.
For instance if your genes instruct your body to build more muscle, testosterone can cause the cells to produce additional protein that leads to greater muscle size and strength.
Genes play an integral part in this, but diet, obesity and certain medications such as steroids or estrogen-containing pills may have an impactful influence too.
Adult men need testosterone for several reasons, including improving libido, erectile function and muscle mass; keeping their immune systems strong; producing normal sperm production as well as keeping the prostate gland healthy.
Testosterone replacement therapy can boost a man's libido and health, but isn't appropriate for everyone.
This can lead to infertility and leading to treatment options such as transdermal delivery sex hormone therapy to lessen side effects such as gynecomastia (enlarged breasts).
Are You Suffering From Low Testosterone Levels?
It is important to understand your testosterone levels before taking testosterone therapy.
One or more of these symptoms may be the first sign that you have low testosterone. Take a look.
Low Sex Drive
If your sexual drive has decreased, it could be because your testosterone levels are low. A lower than usual libido in men, especially those under 40 years old, is often an indication that you may be lacking testosterone.
Signs of erectile dysfunction can also indicate that your testosterone levels are not normal for your age.
Low testosterone can also cause a decline in muscle mass. You may need to act if you are training and eating well but your muscle mass is declining.
Do you feel irritable or agitated often? Does your mood affect your daily life? Low testosterone could be the cause.
How to Check you Testosterone Level
It is important to take seriously the feeling of depression or low spirits. Many factors can affect our mental health. If you're feeling low, testosterone may be able to help.
Take a Testosterone test
You may worry that low testosterone levels are causing your symptoms. However, there are many other factors that can cause the same symptoms.
Tests are the only way to know for sure what your testosterone levels are.
In your body, testosterone is found as both free testosterone (not bound to anything) and as bound testosterone (attached with proteins). Your body can use free testosterone more easily. Testosterone blood tests may reveal:
- Total Testosterone measures both free and attached testosterone.
- Free Testosterone is a test that only measures free testosterone. This test can be useful for diagnosing some medical conditions.
Understanding the Reasons for Low Testosterone levels
Low testosterone levels are not the end. There are many solutions to the symptoms and implications of low testosterone levels.
It's important to first understand the cause of the problem. Here are some medical reasons that can cause low testosterone.
The pituitary produces a hormone which signals the testicles that they should produce more testosterone. Pituitary issues can affect the production of the signaling hormone.
Pituitary failure can be caused by a number of factors, including a tumor or complications following surgery.
The thyroid gland is a small, but important, gland that regulates metabolism, manages energy levels and produces thyroid hormones. A hypothyroid is a medical term that describes an underactive thyroid. The thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones.
Hypothyroidism is associated with decreased levels of testosterone free in the body, despite the fact that testosterone is not made by the thyroid. This could be because thyroid hormones affect a protein critical to how your body uses the testosterone.
Testes produce testosterone within your body. Low testosterone can be a sign of problems with your testes.
Low testosterone can be caused by long-term disorders of the testicles, such as chromosome problems or undescended tests. For many adults, low levels of hormones are the result of testicular injuries.
Certain medical treatments can affect your body's production of testosterone. Low testosterone can be caused by medications such as opioids or hormone therapy.
Researchers have found that radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments can directly impact testosterone levels and sperm counts, but for most people, this is only temporary.
Before making the leap, it is essential to gain an in-depth knowledge of all aspects involved and evaluate all crucial factors associated with this decision affecting both your health and wellbeing.
Before embarking on testosterone therapy, it is recommended that consultation be sought from qualified healthcare providers.
They will review your medical history, assess any underlying conditions, and determine if testosterone therapy is right for you.
There's no one-size-fits-all approach here - also important is taking note of potential side effects of therapy.
Although testosterone therapy can provide many advantages, it may also lead to complications like acne, fluid retention and mood swings.
Therefore, it's crucial that patients carefully consider all its implications as part of a long-term plan.
As with any treatment plan, testosterone therapy involves regular visits, blood tests and potentially lifelong treatment.
Therefore, it's essential that you understand exactly what's involved.
By covering often overlooked factors and their implications this article aims to empower you in making an informed decision about this therapy treatment plan.
As we age, testosterone levels typically decline naturally over time and this decline can cause symptoms like erectile dysfunction and decreased muscle mass loss; through TRT (Testosterone Replacement Therapy), exogenous testosterone is used to restore these levels and alleviate any related symptoms.
TRT may be administered in various ways, from pills or injections to applying a gel twice daily onto gums.
Some methods require daily administration while others only need to be done monthly - depending on the type of TRT prescribed and your medical needs, your provider will select the most effective approach for you.
TRT may completely eliminate sperm counts and worsen urinary symptoms, increase cholesterol and sleep issues, cause prostate enlargement in some men and increase the risk of heart attack or stroke; yet experts continue to study its effects.
TRT and the Military
The military is responding to this problem by offering a new telemedicine service which allows eligible active component servicemen to receive guideline-based TRT care via online assessment and remote physical exam.
This is to reduce inappropriate usage which can lead to obstructive sleep apnea and worsening urinary symptoms, impeding deploymentability and medical readiness.
This service is open to men with low testosterone levels who are experiencing related symptoms such as decreased libido or infertility.
The Risks of Testosterone Replacement Therapy
Men with low testosterone will seek out hormone replacements. Some men have found success with TRT, experiencing increased libido and mood, as well as improved bone density.
Sperm Count Reduced
You need to be aware of the potential side effects of testosterone. Although testosterone is said to increase sex desire, it can also affect your sperm counts.
This can be an important factor to consider when deciding whether or not you want children.
Possible heart complications
The use of testosterone boosters can also increase the production red blood cells. It may sound good, but you can be at risk for blood clots or cardiovascular problems.
It may cause acne or other skin reactions.
Sleep apnea can worsen, a potentially dangerous sleep disorder where breathing stops and starts repeatedly.
Red Blood Cells
A blood clot can be caused by stimulating too much production of red blood cells. A blood clot can break off, travel through the bloodstream, and lodge in your lungs (pulmonary embolism).
Men taking testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) may experience a hormonal imbalance that leads to their testicles becoming smaller, which occurs as TRT can block gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH).
Without GnRH, your pituitary gland stops making luteinizing hormone (LH), resulting in your testicles no longer producing testosterone and therefore shrinking as they stop producing it; taking estrogen supplements or anabolic steroids may also have this same effect.
Gynecomastia refers to an overdevelopment of breast tissue or an enlargement in boys or men. The breasts grow larger. They can grow in uneven patterns.
You should know, before taking testosterone, that the results will not be immediate. You may not notice any change in your symptoms for three to six month.
Monitoring Testosterone Therapy
After the initial dose, serum testosterone concentrations must be checked 2-8 hours after transdermal gel application.
This should also be done 1 week later to make sure that they are within normal range.
What Alternatives Exist To TRT Treatment?
There are other ways to boost your testosterone levels if you're unsure of taking testosterone boosters.
Natural testosterone-boosting supplements exist that will help you restore your 't' levels to healthy levels. Here are some natural ways of boosting testosterone, in addition to the right supplements.
Eat the Right Foods
A well-balanced, healthy diet can improve your energy and boost testosterone naturally.
Numerous studies have shown that regular exercise and training can increase testosterone levels while maintaining healthy levels.
There are a range of training options out there that will help you top up your testosterone.
Manage Your Stress Levels
Stress management is another way to boost your testosterone levels and prevent them from dropping.
It is sometimes easier to say than do, but by keeping cortisol at bay you can maintain healthy testosterone levels.
Stress can be managed in a practical way by improving your sleep hygiene, quitting alcohol, practicing mindfulness or meditation, and speaking to a mental healthcare professional.
Researchers conducted a small study comparing sleep quality and testosterone levels of healthy men who got 10 hours per night of restful slumber with those who only managed five.
Daytime testosterone levels dropped up to 15 percent in those receiving less rest; normal aging typically only causes two percent decreases.
Drink and Drugs
In general, excessive alcohol consumption is known to lower testosterone levels.
Researchers found that men who took long acting opioids were at a greater risk of low testosterone than men who took the shorter-acting type. Statins can also lower testosterone in men and women.
A Natural T-Booster
Military Muscle can promote natural testosterone.
It is a natural alternative to TRT. The ingredients are natural, legal and the product is backed up by scientific research.
The potential risks of testosterone therapy, as well as the possibility that clinical needs and therapeutic objectives may change with time, require ongoing and individualized treatment.
The benefits and risks of testosterone treatment vary depending on the medical histories of each person.
It is important to know that TRT is highly individualized, and care is based on diagnosis, evaluation, treatment and monitoring.