Hormone Replacement Therapy
As men grow older, their testosterone levels gradually decline as part of the natural aging process. Loss of muscle mass, erectile dysfunction, and decreased libido are just some symptoms of testosterone deficiency that can strongly impact a man’s well-being as he ages. Testosterone therapy for men can help restore healthy hormonal balance so men can benefit from reduced symptoms of andropause, a lower risk of serious health issues, and an improved quality of life.
What is testosterone therapy used for?
Testosterone therapy is used to increase testosterone levels in men so they can prevent or improve unwanted symptoms and health problems that commonly stem from hormone deficiency.
When left untreated, hormonal imbalances from andropause can lead to serious health complications including depression, osteoporosis, and heart disease. Hormone replacement therapy can help men achieve improved overall health so they can get back to enjoying life with fewer health problems.
How testosterone therapy works
Men who need testosterone therapy can visit their doctors for an evaluation and blood testing that determines how much testosterone is needed to relieve their symptoms. Hormone therapies are available in the form of gels, mouth patches, and skin patches, and work by releasing hormones directly into the bloodstream. Testosterone therapy is also available as an injection, and as implants that gradually release hormones over the course of several weeks. Your doctor can help you choose the best testosterone therapy method for you based on your health needs and lifestyle.
When is testosterone therapy needed?
Testosterone production in men usually starts decreasing around the age of 30, and significantly declines between the ages of 40 and 50. You may need testosterone therapy if you begin experiencing andropause symptoms severe enough to impact your health and quality of life.
Symptoms of low testosterone include:
- Decreased libido
- Fatigue and low energy
- Erectile dysfunction
- Loss of muscle mass and strength
- Hair loss
- Problems with memory and concentration
- Mood swings
- Increased body fat
- Insomnia and sleep disturbances
Is testosterone therapy right for me?
Some symptoms of low testosterone overlap with those associated with other health conditions. Before you begin testosterone therapy, ask your doctor to perform blood testing that confirms whether low testosterone is the root cause of your symptoms. Testosterone therapy may be ideal for you if you need help boosting testosterone, and if natural interventions like good nutrition, regular exercise, and quality sleep fail to improve your symptoms.
What to expect from testosterone therapy
The effects of testosterone therapy can take up to several days before you start experiencing a noticeable improvement in symptoms. Depending on the form of hormone therapy being used, you may be required to administer testosterone therapy once or twice daily, such as with topical gels. Injections and implants usually require less maintenance, and produce effects that last up to several weeks.
Testosterone therapy side effects
Testosterone therapy may produce side effects in some men. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any adverse effects from hormone therapy so your treatment can be modified or changed as needed to prevent or reduce side effects.
Possible side effects of testosterone therapy include:
- Oily skin
- Rash, itching, or irritation at treatment site
- Fluid retention
- Decreased urination
- Breast enlargement or sensitivity
- Worsened sleep apnea
- Shrinking of testicles
- Mood swings and aggression
What are the risks of testosterone therapy?
Though testosterone therapy offers many advantages for men who suffer from low testosterone levels, this therapy comes with risks just like any other medical treatment.
Possible risks of testosterone therapy include:
- Heart attack
- Prostate enlargement
- Prostate cancer
- Increased red blood cell count
- Decreased sperm production
- Sleep apnea
- Blood clots
- Heart failure
If you feel that the risks of testosterone therapy outweigh the benefits, talk to your doctor about the safest method of hormone replacement therapy for you, or about lifestyle behaviors that can help naturally boost testosterone. Improving your nutrition, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising regularly are just some natural ways to boost testosterone without facing the risks associated with some hormone treatments.
Does testosterone therapy affect sperm count?
Some forms of testosterone therapy may have adverse effects on sperm count and fertility. Hormone replacement therapy for men adds testosterone directly to the bloodstream, which tricks the brain into thinking the body is producing its own adequate amounts of testosterone. As a result, the brain signals to the testes to stop producing testosterone, and sperm count goes down. If you’re concerned about sperm count or have plans to conceive, talk to your doctor about testosterone therapies that won’t affect your ability to produce healthy sperm count.
Does testosterone therapy help build muscle?
Men who use testosterone therapy can benefit from an increase in muscle mass due to the way testosterone binds to androgen receptors in muscles to stimulate muscle growth. Increased muscle mass helps you burn more calories at rest, which also helps drive fat loss. If you’re using testosterone therapy and want to boost muscle mass, combine your hormone therapy with strength training for the best results.
Does testosterone therapy cause high blood pressure?
High blood pressure is commonly caused by factors including excess body fat, stress, sleep apnea, adrenal and thyroid disorders, lack of physical activity, and aging. Testosterone therapy can help you reduce high blood pressure by regulating hormones and improving conditions like obesity and sleep disturbances. However, too-high levels of testosterone may have adverse effects on blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about forms of testosterone therapy that can be tailored to your exact hormonal needs — such as bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, or BHRT, that delivers just enough testosterone to improve andropause symptoms.
Can testosterone therapy cause insomnia?
Insomnia can be caused by factors such as anxiety, depression, sleep apnea, and low testosterone. Testosterone therapy helps regulate hormones and your mood so you can benefit from a healthy, quality night’s sleep. However, sleep apnea is a common side effect of some testosterone replacement therapies. If you already suffer from sleep apnea or insomnia and need testosterone therapy, consider bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, which uses natural testosterone and won’t interfere with sleep quality.
Can testosterone therapy cause fatigue?
Testosterone helps generate energy, which is why low testosterone contributes to fatigue and can make you feel tired and sluggish. Testosterone therapy increases your energy so you can benefit from an improved mood and less fatigue. Testosterone also helps you sleep better at night so you can wake up feeling more refreshed and energetic. Before you start using testosterone therapy to battle fatigue, visit your doctor to receive an evaluation and undergo testing to make sure your fatigue isn’t being caused by other underlying health conditions.
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