Here’s what we know. Testosterone therapy for men works. We’ve seen client after client reap the benefits from testosterone therapy as a part of a hormone optimization plan. In fact, we believe in it so much that it is the basis for all of our male stacks.
However, there’s a lot of conflicting information out there about the safety and efficacy of testosterone therapy for men. You work hard on your body- and we know it’s crucial that you understand both the pros and cons of what you choose to put in it. So, let’s take a transparent look at the safety and efficacy of t-therapy in men. We can’t get too in-depth in just one article— but this will get you started.
Let’s Start With the Basics: What Is Testosterone?
If you’ve already been doing a bunch of research, you can probably skip this part. But if the last time you really thought about testosterone was in High School Biology, stick around because this stuff is interesting. It’s what’s happening in your body- you need to know about it.
Testosterone is a hormone that is produced in both men and women. Most people relate testosterone with testicles, but only 95% of testosterone is produced in the testicles. The other 5% is produced in the adrenal glands.
What Does Testosterone Do?
In men, testosterone is responsible for maintaining:
- Fat distribution
- Bone density
- Muscle strength and mass
- Red blood cell production
- Facial and body hair
- Sex drive
- Sperm production
How is Testosterone Affected by Aging?
By adolescence and early adulthood, your body is jam-packed with testosterone. In fact, this is when your t-levels peak. As you get older, your testosterone levels decline slowly but surely. Once you hit 30, you can expect a 1% decline each year. That’s normal, but if your levels crash, it could be due to hypogonadism.
What the Heck is Hypogonadism?
Yeah. It doesn’t sound good. And it’s not something you want if you are a man. It happens when the pituitary gland malfunctions and hampers the testicle’s ability to produce normal amounts of testosterone causing a testosterone deficiency.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Low-T?
Low testosterone production comes with changes to your body, mind, and sexual function.
Sexually, you could experience low to no sexual desire, infertility, and fewer spontaneous erections.
Physically, you might gain weight, lose muscle and strength, have swollen breasts, lose your hair, or have less energy.
Emotionally, low testosterone can kick your self-confidence in the butt, drag down your motivation, and even leave you feeling sad, depressed, or in a fog.
How Do You Find Out If Your Testosterone Levels Are Low?
It’s as simple as a blood test. If your level is low, testosterone replacement therapy can kick it back up to an optimal range.
So, What Is Testosterone Replacement Therapy?
This is simply replacing testosterone in the body with synthetic or bio-identical testosterone via creams, patches, gels, pellets, injections, pills, etc.
Now to the Meat of the Matter…Is Testosterone Therapy for Men Safe, and Is It Effective?
Scientifically this is up for debate. The science is a mess.
Two large studies suggested that TRT poses severe, sometimes fatal risks, including heart attack and other serious problems. These studies have been simultaneously hailed and trashed. Another large study that came out shortly after showed that TRT doesn’t hurt the heart and may even protect it. And an even newer study funded by the National Institutes of Health found zero increased risk of heart attack linked to testosterone use in the 25,000 men who participated.
Here’s What We Know About the Efficacy
It’s proven that testosterone therapy is well-tolerated and can help reverse the effects of hypogonadism. But there is a lack of strong evidence supporting TRT use in older men, and it hasn’t been approved to restore testosterone decline associated with aging. But we see it used off-label with great effect all the time.
If you have abnormally low testosterone levels, TRT can:
- Boost your energy levels back to normal
- Restore your sex drive
- Decrease body fat
- And the build-up of muscle mass
A cross-study of 16 studies showed that TRT improves quality of life, increases lean body mass, and significantly decreases total cholesterol.
Now let’s address the most common safety concerns.
Is T-Therapy Safe for Your Heart?
You have probably seen numerous articles about the heightened risk of heart disease in men who are on t-therapy. But a 2020 study on long-term t-therapy in hypogonadal men showed marked reductions in mortality and major cardiovascular events in men receiving t-therapy. It also showed improvements in body weight, waist circumference, body mass index, and a gradual decrease in blood pressure and pulse pressure.
Is T-Therapy Going to Give Your Prostate Cancer?
Here’s the deal. From what studies show right now, t-therapy may increase your PSA by 0.30 ng/mL/y in serum PSA (.43 in older men.) But rising PSA during testosterone therapy does not necessarily mean you have or will get prostate cancer. Just make sure to have your PSA levels monitored at regular intervals. T-therapy can rile up symptoms related to benign prostatic hyperplasia, which is an enlarged prostate gland, so you’ll want to consider that if you have it.
A cross-study of 16 studies analyzed the adverse events of TRT, but there wasn’t enough data to figure out which specific types of adverse events (for example, gastrointestinal disorders, psychiatric disorders, infections and infestations, muscle and connective tissue disorders, or nervous system disorders) occurred following TRT.
Of course, as with all medications and treatments, hormone optimization therapy should be monitored by your provider, and products should always be used as directed. For Instance, if you use gel or solution products, you need to avoid transferring it to women and children by washing your hands after application and covering the application site. (That’s one of the reasons why we prefer other methods of delivery.)
What Should I Watch for If I’m on TRT?
If you experience increased fatigue, prolonged erection, irregular breathing, or skin color changes, call your provider.
If you use oxyphenbutazone, it may increase the medication serum levels.
Possible adverse side effects can occur, including:
- Sleep apnea
- And acne
If you have diabetes, monitor your blood glucose levels closely while taking TRT. If your blood glucose levels get out of whack, contact your physician.
Is T-Therapy for Me?
Above all, if it weren’t safe and effective, we wouldn’t prescribe it.
There are many benefits to testosterone treatment, and while they are generally the same for anyone who uses them, they can be largely dose-dependent in-terms of the overall effect.
Many men who use testosterone do so as part of a hormone replacement therapy plan. Other men use testosterone for an entirely different purpose; to increase levels far beyond normal to enhance performance. Regardless of your purpose, you can expect to receive the following benefits to one degree or another:
- Increased Recovery Abilities
- Stronger Anti-Catabolic Protection
- Increase Red Blood Cell Count
- Increased Protein Efficiency
If you’ve got more questions about hormone optimization or t-therapy in particular, schedule a consultation. One of our Elite Team will take the time to give you in-depth answers to your questions and talk through any concerns.