The Basics and Benefits of Testosterone Replacement Therapy
If you’re an adult male, there are a couple reasons why you might look into testosterone replacement therapy: medical necessity or performance and health enhancement.
When it comes to the second option, many don’t realize this therapy can enhance your sexual drive, increase muscle mass, stimulate red blood cell production, boost your energy, help you lose weight, improve mood, sharpen memory, and decrease brain fog.
To understand why, you need to know the scientific basis behind the hormones involved in this therapy, as well as what testosterone is and how it positively impacts your growth and development as you age.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy: Facts About this Hormone
Let’s explore testosterone and debunk some myths about its role in men’s health before we examine the benefits of testosterone replacement therapy. Testosterone affects the growth of a male’s genitalia, facial and body hair, and is responsible for deepening your voice. It also supports healthy sexual function, such as libido, erectile dysfunction, and sperm production.
We can’t forget the contribution testosterone also makes to other vital areas of a man’s life, including healthy physique and building and maintaining muscle mass. Your bone density is strengthened by having adequate levels of testosterone.
Testosterone can also help regulate your emotional psychological state. “Testosterone may help maintain a normal mood,” states an article by Harvard Health Publishing. In fact, “There may be other important functions of this hormone that have not yet been discovered.”
It’s also important to realize what testosterone doesn’t do:
- It doesn’t cure all ailments. Addressing low testosterone can improve some symptoms, but it doesn’t make you healthier or live longer.
- It can somewhat boost one’s athletic performance. However, the benefits are often exaggerated, and it comes with risks. Make sure you know those risks.
- There’s no guarantee it will lead to weight loss or fat burning, although losing weight can be a positive benefit for many under the right conditions. Muscle mass may increase with therapy, but this isn’t a shortcut to losing weight.
- The effectiveness of therapy in reversing baldness has not been proven. Don’t expect too much in this department, and be open to any outcome.
Non-hormonal strategies often improve low testosterone symptoms. These include exercise, weight management, and stress reduction. Of course, you should discuss any hormone therapy with a men’s health specialist or doctor for situational advice.
Types of Hypogonadism and the Science Behind It
To understand how testosterone replacement therapy does its job, you need to understand hypogonadism. Several factors can cause hypogonadism, such as testicular injury, pituitary gland problems, or certain medical treatments. Hormone levels are measured in blood tests to diagnose this condition.
Hypogonadism can be divided into two types. In primary hypogonadism, sex glands are damaged. A genetic disease, infection, autoimmune disease, or even radiation or surgery can damage the gonads.
On the other hand, secondary hypogonadism involves problems with the pituitary gland or hypothalamus, two glands in the brain that produce hormones. Certain medications, tumors, or infections in your pituitary gland can cause this condition.
Your type of hypogonadism will determine treatment options. Typically, testosterone replacement therapy is used for primary hypogonadism, while estrogen and progesterone are used for secondary hypogonadism. Also, any underlying cause of secondary hypogonadism may be addressed in a treatment plan.
To understand the biological science behind testosterone replacement therapy, we need to understand how testosterone plays a role in the body and how it can be replaced. Among your primary sex hormones, testosterone acts as a conductor to regulate a variety of functions in the body. As a result, testosterone levels can plummet below normal and cause a cascade of problems.
By mimicking the body’s natural production of testosterone, therapy replenishes testosterone levels. Your individual needs and the specific hormone agent working to counteract hypogonadism will vary.
“Testosterone replacement therapy is associated with high satisfaction rates,” according to the results of survey findings published in the International Journal of Innovation Review. “Patients noted that treatment efficacy was a significant driving factor when evaluating a regimen. Few patients felt that cost was the most significant factor.”
Aging, Hypogonadism, and Testosterone Replacement Therapy
When it comes to testosterone replacement therapy and hypogonadism, something larger is happening with your hormones over time. Hypogonadism manifests itself through physical, mental, and emotional changes in your body, possibly including the loss of muscle and bone density, changes in body composition, sexual health, mood and cognitive function, and self-confidence of your body image. However, many don’t realize that the effects of hypogonadism become more pronounced with age, making management even more important.
Additional concerns include:
- Increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Testosterone deficiency can contribute to heart problems in men, which means maintaining a healthy lifestyle and managing risk factors are crucial. Some of these risks include cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Metabolic issues. Insulin resistance and diabetes risk can increase from any hormonal imbalances your body is suffering from. Dietary modifications, exercise, and weight management are essential in preventing these complications.
- Osteoporosis and fractures. Your bone density will decline the older you get. Taking calcium and vitamin D supplements, scheduling osteoporosis check-ups, and making sure you never slip or fall are all important choices.
When you go for testing, your health specialist or doctor will usually take two different blood samples before 12 p.m. Activity levels, diet, and time of day each cause hormone levels to fluctuate. To determine the cause of low testosterone levels, the doctor may also order imaging studies and additional tests, such as a luteinizing hormone test or follicle-stimulating hormone test.
In most cases, blood testosterone levels will improve within a week of replacement therapy, but your symptoms may take longer to go away. Benefits may include a boost in energy and libido, as well as an increase in bone density and a healthier body mass. To see positive results, it may take up to four weeks or several months.
Living With Unique Challenges: A Lifelong Condition
Testosterone replacement therapy typically involves lifelong treatment. This changes if a medical illness causes it. Your health specialist or doctor will continually monitor your response to the therapy. This includes continually monitoring blood testosterone levels over the months. Approximately six months after your initial treatment, your doctor will also monitor any possible symptoms and side effects.
Hypogonadism is a lifelong condition, but it can be managed effectively with treatment. If you suffer from hypogonadism, a healthy and fulfilling life is in sight with the right treatment plan in place. Few adults realize that it affects approximately 5 percent of men, or that the risk of developing hypogonadism increases with age.
Hypogonadism impacts 10 – 15 percent of men over age 50, and closer to 20 – 30 percent in men over age 70. Primary hypogonadism usually stems from issues with the testes, affecting around 20 – 30 percent of cases, while secondary hypogonadism originates from the brain’s hormone centers, making up 70 – 80 percent of cases.
Living and aging with hypogonadism presents unique challenges, but it’s also important to remember that managing it effectively can lead to a fulfilling life. While there’s no cure for hypogonadism, you can improve your quality of life at the very least. It’s important to see a health specialist or doctor if you are experiencing symptoms and suffering.g
Wellness and Pain Can Help
A range of testosterone replacement therapy options are available at Wellness and Pain. We offer conservative treatments, routine visits, and minimally invasive quick-recovery procedures. We can keep you free of problems by providing lifestyle education and home care advice to help you avoid and manage issues, quickly relieving your inhibiting lifestyle conditions when complications arise.
At Wellness and Pain, we personalize patient care plans based on each patient’s condition and unique circumstances to improve wellness, increase mobility, relieve pain, and enhance your mental space and overall health.