Q & A: Testosterone Replacement Therapy for "Low T"
Testosterone is the sex hormone that helps boys grow into men. Testosterone levels can affect men’s sex drive, erections, mood, muscle mass and bone density. Testosterone is also needed for normal sperm production. When you don’t have enough testosterone in your body, you have a condition known as “low T”, which is also known as hypogonadism. A blood test can tell if you have low T.
What forms does Testosterone Replacement Therapy come in?
Gel therapy is the most common form, and is used by approximately 70% of patients. Men simply rub a gel onto their shoulders or upper arms after taking a shower. About 17% of patients get testosterone injections and 10% of men use testosterone patches. Approximately 3% of patients are using other forms of testosterone, like oral testosterone or implantable testosterone pellets.
What can I expect with Testosterone Replacement Therapy?
Testosterone replacement can improve your energy, libido (sex drive), muscle mass, sleep, erections, energy level, and depressed mood. Testosterone replacement has also been shown to also decrease body fat in men. Now, there’s data suggesting that testosterone replacement therapy may increase bone mineral density and lessen fracture risk. It’s important to realize that testosterone treatment is considered lifelong therapy, just like in other chronic conditions. Stopping it will result in a decline in testosterone level.
What important safety information should I know before using Testosterone Replacement Therapy?
Before starting testosterone replacement therapy, you should be aware that:
• Testosterone should not be used in men with known breast cancer or known or suspected prostate cancer
• Men treated with testosterone may be at higher risk for the development or worsening of urinary (benign prostatic
hyperplasia or BPH) symptoms
• Patients with kidney, liver, or heart problems who use testosterone replacement therapy may be at a higher risk of
developing edema, or water retention
• Testosterone replacement may make sleep apnea worse
• Finally, long-term treatment with testosterone may impair a man's fertility
Are testosterone and prostate cancer related?
A lot of men wonder if testosterone replacement therapy causes prostate cancer or makes prostate cancer grow more quickly. While all studies so far have found no greater prostate cancer risk among men who get testosterone compared to men who don’t, this remains an issue that warrants further research.