If a patient has symptoms of low testosterone and tests show they have an abnormally low testosterone level, a doctor may suggest treatment. Many men with low testosterone are prescribed testosterone treatment and report improved energy levels, sex drive, and raised mood after the therapy is completed.
If testosterone is low, why not replace it?
Not so fast. A low testosterone level by itself doesn’t need treatment. Only men with symptoms of low testosterone and blood levels that confirm this as the cause of symptoms should consider testosterone replacement. Talking with a doctor is the only way to know if testosterone therapy is right for you.
Subtle Symptoms of Low Testosterone
The symptoms of low testosterone are sometimes obvious, but they also can be subtle. Testosterone levels decline naturally in men as they age over the decades. But certain conditions can also lead to an abnormally low level. Symptoms of low testosterone include:
- low sex drive (libido);
- erectile dysfunction;
- fatigue and poor energy level;
- decreased muscle mass;
- body and facial hair loss;
- difficulty concentrating;
- low sense of well-being.
If men have symptoms of low testosterone and tests show they have an abnormally low testosterone level, a doctor may suggest treatment. For millions of men who have low testosterone levels but no symptoms, no treatment is currently recommended.
Forms of Testosterone Supplements
Testosterone replacement therapy is available in several forms. All can improve testosterone levels:
Skin patch (transdermal): Skin patches are worn on the arm or upper body. It’s applied once a day.
Gels: Testosterone is absorbed directly through the skin when you apply the gel once a day.
Mouth patch: There is a tablet that sticks to the upper gums above the incisor, the tooth just to the right or left of the two front teeth. Applied twice a day, it continuously releases testosterone into the blood through the oral tissues.
Injections and implants: Testosterone can also be injected directly into the muscles, or implanted as pellets in the soft tissues. Your body slowly absorbs the testosterone into the bloodstream.
Why not a simple testosterone pill? Some experts believe oral testosterone can have negative effects on the liver. Using other methods, such as skin patches, gels, orally disintegrating tablets, or injections, bypasses the liver and gets testosterone into the blood directly.
Benefits of Testosterone Therapy
What can you expect from testosterone treatment? It’s impossible to predict because every man is different. Many men report improvement in energy level, sex drive, and quality of erections.
Testosterone also increases bone density, muscle mass, and insulin sensitivity in some men.
Men also often report an improvement in mood from testosterone replacement. Whether these effects are barely noticeable, or a major boost, is highly individualized.
Risks of Testosterone Therapy
Testosterone replacement therapy side effects most often include rash, itching, or irritation at the site where the testosterone is applied. Men with prostate cancer, sleep apnea, blood clots, congestive heart failure, and Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) should refuse from taking TRT.
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