Masculinity and classic masculine characteristics are very important to many men. The hormone, testosterone, helps men keep that manly figure, sexual desire, and confidence. But, maintaining it gets harder over time since aging is inevitable. As we age, testosterone naturally declines, and with that decline, we often see a decline in the traits that men have been accustomed to as men. It is no wonder why men would resort to Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) as a medical treatment option for decreased testosterone. Before you make the jump on the treatment, here’s a quick guide on the nature of TRT.
First, what is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone found in both humans and animals. This sex hormone mainly dominates men and is naturally produced in your testicles. Women also have testosterone, but in lesser levels and is produced in their ovaries and adrenal system. During puberty, your level of testosterone rises significantly. On the contrary, it starts to decline when you reach the age between 30 to 40.
The Importance of Testosterone in the Body
What comes into your mind when you hear the word “testosterone?" You’d probably think about sex drive, but it does more than promoting a man’s libido. Testosterone has multiple functions in your body. It regulates fat distribution, bone density, muscle mass, red blood cell (RBC) count and it affects your mood. Age has a great influence on testosterone count in normal individuals, and researchers have recently found out about its complex functions.
The effects of testosterone are partially dependent on the hormone’s conversion to estradiol, another hormone that governs over the sexual characteristics of both men and women. As men progress in age, their testosterone production decreases, meaning its functions decline and the amounts of estradiol lessen.
The normal levels of testosterone are between 300 to 1,000 ng/dL. Most men would try to self-diagnose a low testosterone condition. But the problem is, you can't assess a decline of the hormone since it's a natural part of the aging process. When a man reaches the age of 30s or 40s, you will expect a lower testosterone count.
However, a rapid decrease may indicate problems. The only way to confirm if you have a low testosterone level is by getting a diagnosis from a doctor. You will undergo a thorough history taking, physical examination and blood tests to confirm your suspected condition. Your testosterone levels will be tested, and your red blood cell count will most probably be evaluated too. Your RBCs may increase if you will be treated with testosterone injection, that's why it's important to measure it to ensure that you’re not at risk for any danger with its increase.
Effects of low testosterone levels
You might experience the following: erectile dysfunction, decreased sex drive (libido), lower sperm count, increase in weight, reduced muscle mass, loss of facial and body hair, hot flashes, fatigue, troubles concentrating, anxiety, depression, irritability, low energy levels, and even changes in your penis, testicles, and breasts.
The effects of low testosterone levels vary for each. For some men, the condition could persist with no symptoms and treatment is not recommended. Doctors may suggest TRT if you have an abnormally low testosterone count, but it wouldn’t be approved to treat low testosterone due to aging.
What is TRT and Why do Men take it?
A TRT is a method that addresses the problem of low testosterone levels in men by achieving the normal count. However, the therapy is not a magic treatment that would cure all the symptoms. You can reach the maximum benefits of the therapy and reduce the dangerous side-effects when you do it correctly. It does have it's risks too, but medical professionals can address these potential dangers and help you continue TRT.
There are 2 primary reasons why men take TRT:
First, he could be medically diagnosed with hypogonadism by a physician and is prescribed with TRT. Hypogonadism is a condition where your gonads (testes or ovaries), which mainly produces testosterone, have difficulty or absence of hormone production. This condition also affects other functions of the gonads.
Second, men having low testosterone count and believing that he can achieve the normal levels of the hormone through TRT and restore his libido, strength, and self-belief.
The Benefits of TRT
It's quite hard to tell what the outcome of the treatment will be for each. One man could report improvement on sex level, energy, and erection, while another could say he experienced an increase in muscle mass and bone density.
Here are some possible benefits of the treatment:
- Increased fat distribution and muscle growth: Because of higher levels of testosterone, men naturally have better fat distribution and muscle maintenance over women. With low testosterone levels, obviously, these effects will decline. Your body will have noticeable fat deposits, commonly in the stomach area. You might be able to feel a decrease in muscle size and reduced strength in long-term effects and severe cases of low testosterone. When you're undergoing TRT, it can help your body regulate fats better, but don't expect to see rapid changes in your weight. On the other hand, TRT will also help increase muscle size, but not to regain your strength.
- Increased sexual performance: TRT enhances your libido and sexual frequency, overall improving your sexual performance.
- Decreased risk for Diabetes: Blood sugar is regulated more effectively.
- Increased confidence, energy levels, better mood, ability to cope with stress and higher work production
- Improved brain functioning, cognitive ability and sleeping better.
- Lower level of bad cholesterol (LDL).
The Risks of TRT
Medical professionals believe that the use of TRT can increase the risk of health problems like:
- Heart and blood problems (stroke, heart attack, blood clots)
- Liver problems
And worsening of the following conditions:
- Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
- Benign prostatic hypertrophy
- Sleep apnea
- Congestive heart failure
Having a low testosterone level may be a signal for you to get alarmed. But, step on your brakes and take the time to think before you take the plunge. TRT is not the “ultimate solution” to keep your youth and masculinity. Going to a medical professional would be an excellent first choice. Be sure you’re well aware of your condition, how it affects you and if it’s really necessary for you to make a move and start TRT.