Maybe you’ve been dealing with unexpected fatigue and irritability. Perhaps erectile dysfunction has made an appearance more than once in a while. Whatever your reasons for suspecting it, you’ve come to question whether these seemingly random symptoms all stem from the same potential cause: low testosterone.
If you’re interested in looking into testosterone replacement therapy, your next step is to visit a men’s health clinic here in Dallas, Texas, and get some answers. But you’re probably wondering what to expect on your first visit. Keep reading to get an insight into what your visit will be like and what to expect if you go forward with testosterone replacement therapy.
What to Expect on Your First Visit to a Men’s Health Clinic
You probably have a lot of questions when you first visit a men’s health clinic in Dallas seeking testosterone replacement therapy. We’re here to give you answers. We’ll start by explaining how the male hormone testosterone interacts with your sex drive and the effect it can have on your mood and energy levels. You’ll also learn just how testosterone replacement therapy works, what to expect, and how it may be able to help with the symptoms you’ve been experiencing.
But your first visit is all about you. We want to know about those symptoms. Then it’s time to dig into your medical history to find clues as to why those symptoms are occurring. In addition, we’ll run tests to check those testosterone levels that you may be concerned about.
Testing for Low Testosterone
Fortunately, it’s very easy to measure your testosterone levels. A simple blood test can determine whether decreased testosterone is responsible for your symptoms. However, those aren’t the only blood tests that your doctor is likely to order. If you’re going to start testosterone replacement therapy, we need to ascertain the state of your overall health.
This therapy raises many men’s red blood cell count, so we want to get a baseline level, which will help us see if you run any risk of stroke or thrombosis. We may also gather baseline measurements of your liver enzymes, blood lipid levels, and bone density, depending on your medical history.
Many men also experience increased levels of PSA, or prostate-specific antigen, when they undergo testosterone replacement therapy. You’ve probably heard of PSA, which is a protein that the prostate gland makes, in discussions of prostate cancer – and indeed, high levels of PSA may increase that risk. So we want to test your PSA levels before starting testosterone therapy and keep an eye on them during the treatment.
You may want to schedule your initial visit first thing in the morning because many of these tests have to be done while fasting. That means you stop eating and drinking the night before at midnight – and let’s be honest, you probably don’t want to go to the end of your workday without food or drink just to get an accurate blood test. Your doctor will also want you to have an early morning test because that’s when testosterone levels are typically at their highest.
If tests reveal that your testosterone levels fall below the normal range, it’s time to continue the discussion about testosterone replacement therapy.
The Big Question: Is Testosterone Replacement Therapy the Right Choice for You?
The symptoms you’ve been experiencing are probably what has nudged you in the direction of seeking testosterone replacement therapy. For many men, erectile dysfunction that occurs on a more than occasional basis is the driving factor behind getting their testosterone levels tested. Many men with low testosterone levels also experience a decrease in their sex drive.
But low testosterone is responsible for many possible symptoms, and it’s linked to diabetes and obesity. Your doctor will want to know if you’ve been experiencing any of these symptoms:
- A drop in energy levels
- Low levels of iron (anemia)
- Irritability, depression and other mood changes
- A decrease in strength and muscle mass
- An increase in body fat
- A decrease in bone calcium levels
Clearly, many of these symptoms can occur when men’s testosterone levels are normal. That’s why blood tests are needed. If low testosterone is not behind your experience of these symptoms, your doctor can help you figure out the cause and the appropriate treatment.
Even when low testosterone levels are diagnosed, testosterone replacement therapy may not be the right solution. Men with several conditions are not good candidates for testosterone therapy. If you have any of the following conditions, your doctor is likely to steer you away from testosterone replacement therapy:
- Prostate cancer
- Sleep apnea
- Breast cancer
- Many untreated heart conditions
- Urinary tract conditions
- Elevated red blood cell counts
Younger men who want to become fathers in the future may also want to avoid testosterone replacement therapy, which can decrease sperm count. In addition, it can be dangerous to boost normal testosterone levels for any nonmedical reasons, including bodybuilding.
If you are a candidate for testosterone replacement therapy, you should be aware that the effects of boosting testosterone are always temporary. Men lose testosterone naturally as they age, with testosterone levels slightly dropping each year starting in the early 30s. By the mid-40s, about 40% of men have clinically low testosterone.
This means that if you stop testosterone replacement therapy, you can expect to see your testosterone levels decrease once again. The symptoms you’ve been experiencing are likely to return without testosterone replacement.
What to Expect From Testosterone Replacement Therapy
Once you and your doctor have agreed that testosterone replacement therapy is the right choice, you have some more decisions to make. That’s because you have quite a few options regarding how that therapy is delivered. These include:
- Testosterone patches. Have you ever used a nicotine patch or an air sickness patch? These work the same way. They deliver testosterone through your skin into your bloodstream in a passive, noninvasive way.
- Testosterone pellets. If you’re looking for a long-lasting, one-and-done approach to testosterone replacement therapy, this may be your preference. The pellets are placed within the skin of your buttocks, and they release testosterone slowly over several months.
- Testosterone gels. These use the same gel that comes in the patches, but you’re responsible for the application yourself. Usually, you’ll rub them on your shoulder or arm for absorption. Storing the gel safely is important, especially if there’s anyone else in your household who might use it by accident.
- Testosterone injections. These shots are administered at your men’s health clinic in Dallas, Texas. Plan to come back to the clinic for another shot every 2 to 10 weeks.
The Effects of Testosterone Replacement Therapy: What to Expect
After you get going with your testosterone replacement therapy, you should count on seeing the effects beginning about 3 weeks in, with changes continuing for 6 months or so. If you’ve experienced decreased sex drive as a result of low testosterone levels, you’ll see that start to change at 3 weeks. You may also notice changes in your erections and ejaculations at this point in your therapy.
Moving forward, you can expect to see some changes in your blood tests, even if you don’t experience new symptoms as a result, at about 4 weeks. Look for lowered cholesterol levels, LDL cholesterol levels, and decreases in inflammation levels.
If you experienced mood changes, including depression and irritability, due to low testosterone levels, look for them to lift at about 6 weeks. By 12 weeks, you should see a noted increase in muscle mass and strength and a decrease in your overall body fat.
By the 6-month mark, any erectile dysfunction will have improved to its peak level. You should also see increased bone density in blood test results.
Of course, you may experience some other side effects as well. Some side effects of testosterone replacement therapy are temporary. Others, such as acne and hair loss, may be annoying but aren’t medically significant. Your doctor will want to keep an eye on other side effects, including the following:
- Elevated red blood cell count
- Decreased sperm count (which can lead to infertility)
- Increased aggression and mood swings
- Decrease in the size of your testicles
- Changes to your frequency of urination
- Soreness and swelling in the feet and breasts
- An enlarged prostate
- Sleep disorders, including insomnia and sleep apnea
What to Expect Regarding Long-Term Follow-up After Testosterone Replacement Therapy
You can expect to make regular visits to your men’s health clinic in Dallas once you start testosterone replacement therapy. You’ll head to the clinic for continued therapy, but you should also expect to get some blood tests whenever you visit as well. The lab tests your doctor will order to keep an eye on your health will include:
- Your PSA levels
- Bone density tests
- Liver enzyme levels
- Your testosterone levels
- Red blood cell production
- Blood pressure tests
In addition, your doctor may ask you to get a physical every 6 months to look at your overall cardiovascular health. You may also be asked questions about any sleep disorders you’re experiencing. In addition, if you experience chest pain, difficulty breathing, slurred speech or weakness on one side of your body, you should seek emergency medical attention.
Are You Ready to Explore Testosterone Replacement Therapy?
If you still have questions about the efficacy or appropriateness of testosterone replacement therapy, there’s one place to get the answers here in Dallas, Texas. At the Texas Men’s Health Group, we handle it all: the questions you have, the testing you need and the therapy you want. We’re safe and discreet regarding testosterone replacement therapy and any other issues you have with your physical or sexual health.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment and start on your journey to treating your low testosterone. The solutions you’ve been looking for are just a phone call away.