Maybe you’re tired. Or you joke a little too much about feeling your age. And perhaps, in the midst of the jokes, you start to wonder if what you’re feeling is just about age. You’ve heard other men talk about the amazing results they’ve had with testosterone replacement therapy. You’ve done a little research, perhaps. And now you’re wondering: is it worth it to take the next steps?
As you get older, your body’s production of testosterone starts to decline. For some men, that means they suffer real symptoms that they might not even recognize as signs of a hormone deficiency. If that sounds like you, it could be time to look into the facts about and the benefits of testosterone therapy.
The Role of Testosterone in Your Body
Testosterone has played a vital role in your development going back to before you were born. It helped determine the fact that you would be a boy, and it was key to your developing male genitals. You certainly remember how it kicked in when you hit puberty, what with your sudden interest in sex, your ability to grow facial hair, the deepening of your voice, the maturing of your genitals, and your overall growth and muscle development.
And into adulthood, testosterone helps you remain sexually active while preserving your muscle and bone strength. However, you do start to lose testosterone once you hit your 30s. That decline in hormone production happens slowly, at about 1% per year. Because it’s so gradual, you may not even notice the changes that are occurring in your body at first. But after a while, for many men, they become too pronounced to ignore. The only problem is that because these signs are so disparate, you may not realize they all stem from the same cause.
How You Feel When Your Testosterone Levels Are Low
The one symptom that alerts many men to a problem with low testosterone levels is a decline in their sex drive or libido — and, yes, that’s certainly something to pay attention to. Many men also find that they’re experiencing fewer spontaneous erections (including during sleep) than they used to. But the other symptoms of testosterone deficiency aren’t necessarily so obvious.
You might find yourself gaining weight, especially around the belly, losing that slim silhouette you prided yourself on a few years back. Along with that, you could notice that you’re not hanging on to the muscles you’ve worked so hard to maintain at the gym. You may also experience an overall loss of body hair and even a tendency to see swelling in the breasts.
Many men find themselves having problems with concentration and focus, unaware that these can be signs of testosterone deficiency. Memory lapses can go along with this, as can an overall decline in your energy levels. You might find yourself sad, depressed, anxious or unable to care much about anything. You may also find your motivation lagging or feel less confident than you used to.
Some of the symptoms of testosterone deficiency aren’t as obvious. For instance, you’re unlikely to be aware that your bone density is decreasing unless you suddenly break a bone for no clear reason. Low testosterone levels can also affect your cholesterol levels and your red blood cell count — symptoms that you likely won’t notice unless you have blood work done.
Of course, many of these symptoms can be the result of other medical issues, including thyroid problems, depression, diabetes, cardiovascular issues, sleep apnea, or even the effects of the medications you’re taking. That’s why it’s important to see a doctor and avoid self-diagnosing. You need to understand exactly what’s going on with your body, and that means seeking medical consultation.
How Testosterone Replacement Therapy Works
The journey to seeing whether testosterone replacement therapy is the solution for what ails you begins with a visit to your men’s health clinic. There, a doctor will order some blood tests, which they’ll want you to take early in the morning when your testosterone levels are highest.
Among the tests your doctor will want to review is a measurement of your testosterone levels. The normal range for male testosterone is from 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter. If you fall below that range, you’ll be diagnosed as having low testosterone, regardless of the symptoms you’re experiencing.
At that point, your physician will present to you the option of testosterone replacement therapy. You may be surprised to realize how many symptoms this therapy can address all at once.
You have quite a few options to choose from if your doctor feels that hormone replacement therapy is right for you and if you choose to pursue it. You’ll make the final decision based on your lifestyle and personal preferences.
Some men are most comfortable applying testosterone transdermally — that is, through the skin. You might apply the gel to your upper arm (or, in some cases, inside your nose) daily, or you might opt for a skin patch, similar to a seasickness or nicotine patch, that you also apply daily.
Other men don’t want to fuss with their treatment on a daily basis (and some men avoid testosterone gel because they don’t want to risk their kids getting into it). In this case, you might opt for injectable testosterone, which you’ll need to take every week or so. If you want to adopt a “set it and forget it” attitude, you might instead ask to have testosterone pellets implanted under the skin of your buttocks. With this treatment method, you don’t have to think about your therapy again for several months.
The Benefits of Testosterone Replacement Therapy
Many studies have added to researchers’ knowledge of the benefits of testosterone replacement therapy, notably the so-called “Testosterone Trials,” a set of double-blind trials conducted and reported on in 2018. These studies, in addition to the lived experience of thousands and thousands of men, make it clear what you can expect if you embark on testosterone replacement therapy.
Many men report increased energy once they start testosterone therapy. It’s not surprising, once you realize that testosterone increases muscle mass. That leaner body mass helps keep weight under control and gives a boost to the metabolism, which in turn boosts energy levels and decreases that feeling of fatigue.
Erectile dysfunction can occur for many reasons, with testosterone deficiency being only one of them. When low testosterone levels are behind the issue, though, testosterone replacement therapy can improve erectile function significantly. Many men report enjoying much better erections, including in the morning, once they start therapy.
Don't let the symptoms of aging keep you down
Restored Muscle Mass
Testosterone replacement therapy helps build lean muscle mass — and if you head to the gym and work out regularly, you’ll see even better results than you would without this extra hormonal help. This is largely because creating physical strength and muscle mass is one of the key purposes of testosterone.
Increased Bone Density
You aren’t going to notice the drop in bone density that occurs with the gradual loss of testosterone, but it’s vitally important to your overall well-being. As bones weaken, you can develop osteoporosis, which can result in bone fractures and overall weakness. The increased bone density that occurs with testosterone replacement therapy also provides support to your muscular system and to your internal organs.
Combined with the increase in muscle mass and boosted metabolism that you experience with testosterone replacement therapy, you’re likely to find that it’s easier to lose weight. Many men are particularly happy to get rid of the belly fat that seems to accumulate once they reach their 40s.
Improved Red Blood Cell Production
Testosterone is good for your blood in many ways. It helps regulate a hormone that’s crucial to producing red blood cells, and it helps metabolize iron, which in turn helps create the important blood protein hemoglobin. Testosterone replacement therapy has been shown to increase hemoglobin as well as hematocrit, which is the overall ratio of red blood cells in the blood.
Many men first get concerned about their testosterone levels because they’re noticing a disturbing lack of interest in bedroom activities — so you’ll be pleased to learn that testosterone replacement therapy can reliably rev your sex drive up again. With higher levels of testosterone, you can expect to experience greater sexual desire and performance.
Higher testosterone levels result in a greater ability to think critically, as well as increased mental processing speed and verbal memory. For some men, testosterone replacement therapy even helps boost spatial memory. In addition, men undergoing hormone therapy show lower rates of coming down with Alzheimer’s disease.
Everyone has times when they’re feeling up and times when they feel down. But when your testosterone levels are low, those down times may occur more often than they should. Testosterone replacement therapy turns that around. The irritability you’re tired of feeling should fade into the past, as should your depressed mood. Think of how nice it would be to go through your days with a sense of positive well-being and an elevated mood.
Risks Associated With Testosterone Replacement Therapy
While testosterone replacement therapy is immensely helpful for so many men, it’s not right for everyone. Men with certain health conditions should avoid testosterone replacement, as it could have negative consequences. These include men with prostate cancer, a family history of prostate cancer, or other prostate issues. Men with a history of blood clots, congestive heart failure, or obstructive sleep apnea should also avoid testosterone replacement.
For some men, testosterone replacement can come with a few risks, including acne, enlarged breasts, and limited sperm production. It can also promote already existing problems with sleep apnea or prostate problems.
Learn More About Testosterone Replacement Therapy
If you are dealing with the symptoms of testosterone deficiency, it’s time to talk to your doctor about the benefits and the risks of testosterone replacement therapy. At Texas Men’s Health Group, we can answer all your questions and provide the medical tests needed to make sure you’re getting the treatment you need and deserve. Contact us today to start on a journey that takes you from the symptoms of aging to a life of vitality and well-being.