Hormonal replacement therapies have been frequently used to treat a number of ailments that can arise through the process of ageing and changes in natural hormonal production. Although many replacement therapies have been focused on the alterations that occur in female physiology, current understanding indicates that males can also suffer from a reduction of hormones over time.
Although testosterone replacement therapy can address certain issues of make sexual dysfunction, this form of treatment is also considered applicable for health risks that can rise as testosterone production lessens. As men reach middle adulthood, their bodies will naturally slow the production of this hormone since the active growth face for physical development has reached an end. While basic ageing can contribute to low testosterone, other factors may also cause some men to have less of the hormone.
- Reaction to radiation exposure
- Contact with toxic chemicals
- Injury to the testicles
- Genetic predisposition
- Some medications
- Alcohol and drug use
- Kidney or liver diseases
While low testosterone can lead to erectile dysfunction, other symptoms can also be indicative that this condition could be a concern. Fatigue is one of the major indicators of this ailment, and other symptoms include:
- Lack of motivation
- Low interest levels and poor focus
- Loss of muscle tone and strength
- Loss of hair
- Increases in body weight and fat ratios
- Mood changes and irritability
All of these factors can also greatly affect self-esteem, which may further compound emotional issues that are associated with the low testosterone. However, whole body health concerns are also important to acknowledge, since increases in body fat and cholesterol can also impact cardiovascular health and joint stability.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Although the above symptoms can be indicators of low testosterone, the only true diagnosis is through lab testing. A basic blood panel that is taken during a physical can indicate the actual hormonal levels and indicate whether it is in an acceptable range for the given age of the patient.
While some patients may seek treatment for reasons of intimacy, other patients could be experiencing mild cases of low testosterone without any significant symptoms. This can make it important for men who are in their mid-thirties to begin monitoring these levels during regular doctor’s visits. As the condition can have some severe impacts on energy levels and bone health, it is important for men to consider treatment sooner.
Testosterone replacement therapy is thus the means by which low hormonal levels for men are addressed. The medications used in this therapy can be harmful to women and unborn children, and so treatments must be closely attended to in order to avoid accident or harm. The actual therapy consists of a formulation of different dosages of testosterone that can be taken as a regular replacement protocol.
Forms of Testosterone Replacement Therapies
Testosterone replacement therapies are also available in a variety of forms that can allow for convenient administration and application.
- Intramuscular injections – these may be given at a range of anywhere from two to 10 weeks apart for treatment, and can have good effect with minimal site irritation.
- Testosterone patch – these can be worn on any part of the body, although some practitioners will recommend application to the pubic area. Since the gel in the patch is absorbed trans-dermally, obvious application sites could lead to harm to others.
- Testosterone gel – this is similar to the gel that is used in patches, although it is rubbed into the skin. It may also be applied to the mucus membrane of the nose for quicker absorption and less risk of transfer.
- Muco-adhesive material – this is similar to the concept of a tooth whitening strip, although the patch is applied to the gum line for fast effect and lessened visual impact.
- Time release subcutaneous implant – this operates similar to subcutaneous birth control for women in that a capsule with the hormone is inserted under the skin, and the treatment is slowly and effectively absorbed over a longer period of time
- Testosterone stick – this is a slightly more solid formulation of the testosterone gel, and it can be applied to the underarms much like deodorant.
Application practices for treatment can often be dictated by personal preferences and convenience, although the consideration of avoiding transfer contact can become a necessary factor to discuss with a physician when deciding upon the most ideal method. Further, some application modes only offer limited concentrations of testosterone for treatment, so people needing a higher dosage may need to look into a different method, but can also opt for repeated applications throughout the day.
Testosterone Replacement Side Effects
As with any type of treatment approach, there can be risks in hormonal replacement, especially since the body may already be making adjustments that may accommodate this natural change with wellness. However, there are also many cases where a patient’s low testosterone is due to extenuating causes, and this can offer relief from immediate symptoms and possible future risks.
Some of the most common side effects that occur with testosterone replacement therapy include:
- Fluctuations in cholesterol levels
- Raised red blood cell count
- Lowered sperm levels
- Skin conditions, including acne, enlarged pores, and excessive oiliness
- Water retention and mild swelling across the body
- Prostrate irritation, including increased urge to urinate
- Possible development of breast tissue
- Risk of blood clot formation
- Reduction in the size of testicles
- Tendency for sleep apnea and other rest disturbances
Blood monitoring may also be required with hormonal replacement, especially as the full extent of any risk and long term effects of the therapy are being evaluated. Adjustments to dosage may take several rounds of treatment, as application method can also influence the amount of testosterone that is actually absorbed by the body.
Although this type of treatment cannot be handled by women or children, it is also not suitable for all men. Males who have suffered from breast cancer or who have possible prostate ailments may not be able to safely use this treatment, so consulting with a doctor is imperative.