Hormone replacement therapy can be a bit misleading at first glance. In most cases, you’re not replacing hormones with anything separate. Rather, you’re restoring levels of hormones to what they should optimally be.
Some have been confused about this when using TRT to boost testosterone levels, however, its called therapy because its proper use is to replace the testosterone that was lost in men who struggle with illnesses or old age that interferes with testosterone production. Those who use it to simply boost testosterone levels when they are already healthy run a higher risk of developing side effects.
Men naturally experience a decrease in testosterone production as they grow older, and as such may find hormone replacement necessary to help them return to an optimal level of hormonal health. However, there are some things that one might want to consider before the undertake a hormonal replacement therapy.
Table of contents
- What is hormone replacement therapy for men?
- Why this therapy is used?
- Types of hormone replacement therapy for men
- What are hormone replacement therapy benefits?
- Hormone replacement therapy side effects
- What are the health risks of having low testosterone
- What are other methods to increase testosterone
Hormone therapyis used to enhance levels of hormones in the human body. In regards to men, most forms of hormonal replacement therapy involve boosting levels of testosterone.
Testosterone is a very important sex hormone that’s involved in a large number of functions in both males and females. It’s used for:
- Sexual health, sexual development, libido, and sex drive
- Reproductive function and fertility
- Enhancing and maintaining the strength and bulk of muscles
- Producing healthy amounts of red blood cells
- Maintaining strong bones
There are many situations in which a man may need testosterone replacement therapy.
- Some men have a difficult time producing testosterone from birth and may have a hard time maintaining their health without it.
- There are some diseases and conditions which can result in a decreased production of testosterone.
- Testosterone levels tend to decrease as men grow older.
Testosterone replacement therapy is used to combat low levels of testosterone, caused by disease or old age.
Hypogonadism, for example, is a condition in which men are unable to produce the necessary amount of testosterone. For these people, testosterone therapy can certainly be influential in helping to bring optimal health. There are some who like to use hormone replacement therapy and weight loss programs together because of the enhanced benefits.
In regards to old age, there is some debate as to whether or not testosterone production is actually responsible for the symptoms of aging, such as weakness and muscle loss. Some people have had positive experiences using testosterone replacement therapy, but others have seen negligible benefits.
Whatever the case, it’s certain that there are some risks associated with testosterone replacement therapy, and it may not be the best solution for all men.
There are lots of different ways in which men can engage in testosterone therapy. These are some of the most popular methods.
- Testosterone injections. Testosterone injections are arguably the most popular form of testosterone replacement therapy, used by both medical professionals, bodybuilders and athletes legally and illegally. If you choose this route for your medically sanctioned testosterone replacement therapy, you will generally be injected with testosterone into your buttocks once every couple weeks.
- Testosterone patches. These are a less invasive method of testosterone replacement therapy that simply involves applying testosterone patches to your skin. Common areas are the back, the arms, and the abdomen. These patches allow testosterone to slowly absorb through your skin into your body.
- Testosterone gel. Another noninvasive procedure, you can apply testosterone gel to your skin and allow it to be absorbed.
There are a number of benefits for hormone replacement therapy. In the case of men who are using hormone replacement therapy legitimately, many of these benefits will emerge simply as a result of filling a testosterone deficit. Benefits can include:
- Improved sexual health. Men who struggle with low testosterone may experience issues with their sexual health, meaning low libido, erectile problems, and low fertility. Restoring testosterone to a healthy level can improve upon all these issues.
- Improved muscle mass. Many men find that they have an easier time building and maintaining their muscle mass when they have a healthy amount of testosterone.
- Improved bone density. Men with healthy testosterone levels are less likely to fracture or break their bones.
- Improved emotional health. Men with healthy testosterone levels are better able to control their emotions and are less prone to emotional outbursts and depression. Men also may find that their motivation improves.
- Improved cognitive health. A healthy level of testosterone ensures that you will be able to focus properly and maintain your memory.
- More energy. Men with higher levels of testosterone often find that they have higher energy levels and more endurance in physical activities.
Even though hormone replacement therapy has a number of benefits, it’s important to be aware of the potential side effectsthat could emerge as a result of interfering with your testosterone levels. This is especially true for men with normal levels of testosterone who are hoping to use testosterone replacement therapy to enhance their workouts or their athletic ability.
Some of the more common side effects can include:
- Increased risk of sleep apnea. Patients who are using testosterone replacement therapy to help them manage the natural age-related loss of testosterone may experience an increased risk of sleep apnea.
- Skin problems, especially acne.
- Prostate problems. The prostate may grow large and men with prostate cancer may experience growth of their tumors.
- Growth of the breasts.
- Increased fluid retention. This is one of the reasons that muscles seem to grow large so quickly when men are using testosterone replacement.
- Increased levels of cholesterol and related conditions.
- Increased levels of red blood cells. This can lead to problems like muscle pain, high blood pressure, blurred vision, and chest pain.
- Decreased fertility. The testicles may shrink or the amount of sperm produced by a man may decrease.
- Higher risk of deep vein thrombosis. This is a condition in which a blood clot forms in a vein. If this clot breaks loose it could dislodge and block blood flow somewhere in your body, causing a potentially fatal reaction.
Low levels of testosterone can contribute to a number of problems which might lead someone to become interested in testosterone replacement therapy. Common symptoms of low or declining testosterone include:
- Issues with sexual function. Men with low testosterone may experience erectile dysfunction, lack of libido, and fewer erections.
- Changes in sleep patterns. Low testosterone can lead to insomnia and other problems with sleep.
- Physical changes, like increased body fat and reduced muscle mass, as well as weaker bones. Premature hair loss and lack of energy are also common.
- Emotional issues. Men with low testosterone may have problems with self-confidence, depression, or motivation. Cognitive issues like difficulty focusing may also emerge.
If you’re worried about whether or not testosterone therapy is the best idea for you, there are some alternativesthat may be of interest to you. Some of these are good ways of natural hormone replacement therapyand weight loss, and can be done with a very low risk of developing side effects.
- Antiestrogens. Antiestrogens are drugs and supplements that reduce the amount of estrogen in the body. This may not actually boost levels of testosterone, but will reduce some of the symptoms of high estrogen which can interfere with a man’s daily life.
- Exercise. High-intensity exercise, especially strength training, helps to build more muscle naturally. This, in turn, will increase the amount of testosterone that your body produces.
- Use herbals. In a world dominated by dangerously strong medicine and fast-acting drugs, many people have discredited herbal medicine and believe that it’s ineffective. This isn’t the case – these people are just used to using drugs that jack them up or fix symptoms immediately and are unable to feel the herbs working. Many herbs can help with natural hormone replacement therapy and boost testosterone while causing a minimal number of side effects. Tongkat Ali and Ashwagandha, for example, are believed to boost testosterone and at the very least have been proven to provide a number of the same benefits as testosterone replacement therapy.
- Diet. Diet is incredibly important for maintaining testosterone levels, and if you have a bad diet then improving it can be considered a natural hormone replacement therapy. Make sure that you consume plenty of zinc and cholesterol, both of which are necessary for the production of testosterone.
- Stimulating your hypothalamus. A class of drugs known as neurokin-B agonists can help to stimulate your hypothalamus, leading to an increased production of testosterone.
- Supplements that reduce sex hormone binding globulin(SHBG). SHBG is a substance that binds to free testosterone in the blood, making it unavailable for use. Reducing the amount of SHBG will increase the amount of free testosterone available in your bloodstream.
Testosterone replacement therapy can be useful for many men. Some have reported that it is immensely useful for helping to reverse some of the natural effects of growing old, whereas others have found that it was minimally helpful or even problematic.
If testosterone replacement doesn’t seem like the thing for you, don’t worry. There are many alternatives that can be just as beneficial – some of which don’t even require going to the doctor. Remember to check with your doctor before making any life-changing decisions.