Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) has become popularized by advertisements related to the effects of low testosterone levels in men and how they may mitigate the problem of "low t" with TRT.
Testosterone is the male hormone responsible for maintaining muscle tone and growth, facial and body hair, and sexual function. It can also affect mood, libido, and aggression.
The normal level of testosterone in men varies widely, between around 300–1100 ng/dl (nanograms per deciliter), so multiple blood samples must be taken to determine if your normal testosterone level is lower because of sickness, injury, or other causes.
How is testosterone level tested?
The testosterone level is determined using a blood test that is administered as early in the morning as possible, when testosterone levels are highest. It is then checked at least one again at the same time of day to determine if there is any fluctuation in the level.
Testosterone levels are generally checked either when symptoms appear, or when a patient is given a PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) test for the presence of prostate cancer. If the testosterone level is consistently in the lower normal range or below the lowest normal level, TRT may be recommended.
Patients can receive TRT even if their levels are within the normal range, but insurance companies will usually only pay for it if the patient falls below 300 ng/dl. This is important, because once TRT has begun, it is a lifelong commitment, and can be expensive without insurance coverage.
What are the symptoms of low testosterone?
- Lack of muscle tone or the ability to build muscle
- Sexual dysfunction or loss of libido
- Osteoporosis in extreme cases
Unfortunately, the symptoms of low testosterone often mimic those of simple aging, obesity, or mood disorders. TRT is provided as a replacement for normal testosterone production that may have been interrupted by a testicular injury or infection, a disease such as cancer, or damage to the adrenal glands, which regulate the production and distribution of testosterone in the body.
TRT is not a magic pill that reverses the aging process or cures depression or lethargy caused by other issues. However, when it is correctly applied, it can allow the patient to return to their normal life.
How is TRT administered?
Testosterone cream is applied daily and absorbed through the skin. While this is the least invasive method, it is hazardous to pregnant women or children who may come into contact with the cream on the patient's body.
The patient can inject himself with testosterone every two weeks, but the levels of testosterone in the blood vary. The level is highest on the day of injection and gradually decreases until the next injection.
Graduated release capsules
These must be administered by a urologist because they are surgically implanted. A small flap of skin is opened on the buttocks and several capsules are placed inside the opening, which is then sealed shut. These capsules release testosterone slowly over a six month period, when a new appointment must be made to insert the next batch of capsules.
Testosterone levels and general health must be checked regularly to be sure that proper levels are achieved and no side effects, such as mood swings, or skin problems emerge.
Patients with a family history of prostate cancer must be checked more frequently, because this type of cancer will grow exponentially as testosterone levels increase.
In the end, testosterone is like a maintenance drug such as insulin. If you need it, it will allow you to live a normal life, but if you don't need it, find other ways to combat the physical and psychological effects of aging. For more information, talk to a professional like Premier Custom Pharmacy.