Men's Health

Everything about testosterone replacement therapy

Testosterone is the primary sex hormone found in the male body, and it is essential for physical and reproductive development. This hormone is also produced in a female body but in smaller quantities. It plays a vital role in maintaining a man’s sex drive, sperm production, facial and body hair, bone density, fat distribution, muscle mass and strength, and red blood cell production.

The testosterone levels are at its peak when one hits puberty and start to gradually sink post the age of 30. Typically, the testosterone levels naturally lower as one grows older; however, stress, alcoholism, and other chronic conditions such as kidney disease, liver cirrhosis, and AIDS can impact the hormone production in the body. Insufficient levels of testosterone can lead to a diminished sexual drive, erectile dysfunction, depression, fatigue, weight gain, thinner bones, decreased body mass, and irritability.

If the testosterone levels are abnormally low, one can opt for a treatment known as testosterone replacement therapy. One should ideally seek testosterone replacement therapy only if their hormones levels have drastically dropped due to any health condition at a young age. Primarily, this treatment might involve some health risks such as acne, enlarged breasts, benign prostatic hyperplasia, sleep apnea, deep vein thrombosis, and limited sperm production. Moreover, it may aggravate the symptoms of preexisting conditions such as congestive heart failure and prostate cancer.

Testosterone replacement therapy is available in the forms stated below:

  • Transdermal (skin patch)
    Easy-to-apply patches have to be used once a day. However, some people might have to put these on more than once. However, these might cause skin rashes.
  • Gels
    Testosterone, in the form of a gel, requires to be smeared on any one area of the body. This option is easy and convenient to use. However, it has to be ensured that no one comes in contact with the treated area for at least a couple of hours. This because someone’s else’s system might get exposed to the hormone. To lower the risk of exposure, one can use a nasal gel.
  • Buccal patch
    These patches are supposed to be put on the upper gum almost twice a day. Using this alternative is convenient; however, these can cause gum disease or irritation.
  • Injections
    Testosterone injections can be administered anywhere between the period of 2 to 10 weeks. As compared to the other options, these are economical. However, injections might fail to deliver consistent results, as the testosterone levels might dip again until the injection is administered again.
  • Subcutaneous pellets
    These are surgically inserted under the skin every few months. Subcutaneous pellets are effective and great for men who don’t want to deal with the hassle of using patches and gels on an everyday basis.

If the testosterone levels are not abnormally low, one can try natural methods instead of testosterone replacement therapy. Maintaining a healthy weight, getting adequate amounts of sleep, and exercising regularly can help stabilize the testosterone levels. Lack of vitamin D and zinc is often associated with low testosterone levels. Therefore, if one has a vitamin D or zinc deficiency, they should use supplements to correct their nutritional profile. Research suggests that a cup of coffee daily can help improve the testosterone levels in the body.