Find Out Whether TRT is the Miracle It’s Touted to Be
Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) is a type of hormone therapy that involves supplementing or replacing testosterone. It’s used by millions of American men to increase testosterone levels. While many advertisements promote the benefits of TRT, such as improved mental and sexual function, the treatment also comes with safety concerns.
Let’s dive into the specifics, and separate fact from fiction, so you can make a better-informed decision about TRT for yourself.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone mainly synthesized in the testicles and responsible for various male characteristics. It helps maintain bone density, muscle strength and mass, fat distribution, production of red blood cells, body and facial hair growth, sex drive, and sperm production.
During adolescence and early adulthood, testosterone levels reach their peak and then gradually decline by approximately 1% per year after the age of 30 or 40.
Signs of Aging
It’s normal for people to experience a certain level of bodily decline with age. The physical, emotional, and sexual changes aging men go through may include decreased bone density, reduced muscle mass, and lower energy levels, as well as increased body fat, gynecomastia, body hair loss, reduced sexual desire, infertility, decreased motivation or self-confidence, and trouble concentrating.
However, these signs and symptoms of aging aren’t necessarily caused by a natural decline in testosterone levels. They could also stem from other factors such as medication side effects, sleep apnea, depression, diabetes, and thyroid problems.
Since some of these conditions might cause low testosterone levels, targeted treatment can be beneficial. Men interested in Testosterone Replacement Therapy should first have their testosterone level diagnosed via a blood test.
Facts & Fiction
1. TRT increases your risk for prostate cancer
While some people believe that Testosterone Replacement Therapy increases your prostate cancer risk, this is fiction. No study has definitively shown that testosterone therapy is an independent risk factor for prostate cancer.
According to the National Cancer Institute, elevated PSA levels can indicate prostate cancer. That’s why a patient undergoing testosterone treatment should have their PSA levels routinely tested as part of a diagnostic lab.
2. You’ll grow man-boobs
It’s a fact that testosterone can lead to the development of breast tissue and/or tenderness in some men due to the conversion of a little bit of testosterone to estradiol (one of the estrogens). Nevertheless, some estradiol is beneficial, as it reduces belly fat and promotes bone mass. To block the excessive conversion of testosterone to estradiol, men undergoing TRT can use an aromatase inhibitor called Anastrozole.
3. You don’t need TRT until you turn 50
No man likes suffering through signs of aging, such as decreased libido, low energy, and reduced muscle mass. That’s why waiting until your 50s for testosterone replacement therapy is unnecessary.
Starting in their 30s, men’s testosterone levels start dropping by 1–2% every year. That means it’s a good idea to measure your baseline around that time through a blood test and have the results interpreted by an experienced professional to create an individualized treatment plan.
4. You’ll develop acne from TRT
Studies have shown that acne patients produce higher levels of testosterone. Additionally, testosterone increases sebum production, which can cause acne by inflaming hair follicles on the face. However, adjusting your Testosterone Replacement Therapy protocol can help alleviate side effects like acne, and your treatment practitioner will monitor any such effects.
5. Testosterone can shrink your testicles
While it’s true that testosterone use can cause testicular shrinkage, it’s unlikely to be more than 10%, and most men don’t notice it much.
6. Testosterone therapy affects fertility
It’s true that testosterone therapy affects fertility. Due to the use of exogenous testosterone, natural testosterone production is down-regulated, which may reduce a patient’s sperm count. However, this decrease in sperm count is usually temporary, and men seeking to preserve their fertility can consider alternative treatment options like testosterone-boosting supplements or lifestyle changes.
While a lot of misconceptions about testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) exist, the innovative treatment can be beneficial for aging men who experience a decline in their natural testosterone levels.
TRT may alleviate symptoms such as low libido, decreased energy, reduced muscle mass, poor sleep, and mood changes. It can also improve bone density and reduce the risk of fractures, as well as help manage conditions such as depression, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Overall, TRT can lead to an improved quality of life and increased longevity for aging men.