Testosterone is a male sex hormone produced in the testicles. It helps with functions such as muscle growth, providing energy, sex, and developing body hair. A healthy man’s testosterone should range from 264 to 916 nanograms per decilitre. As men grow older, their testosterone levels lower. However, sometimes otherwise healthy men can experience symptoms of low testosterone. They include:
- Muscle loss
- Erectile dysfunction
- Low libido
- Memory loss
- Loss of body hair
These symptoms are also signs of other conditions such as drug use, diabetes, or obesity. When you experience these symptoms, seek medical attention. If you are diagnosed with Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome or low-Testosterone, your doctor may recommend testosterone therapy. Low-Testosterone also has non-specific symptoms which include low physical endurance, poor memory, difficulty speaking, poor focus and poor productivity.
Low-Testosterone is caused by injury to the testicles, removing testicles because of cancer, chemotherapy or radiation treatment, pituitary gland disease, infection, HIV or autoimmune disease. There are pre-existing conditions that can cause low-Testosterone are:
- Klinefelter syndrome- a condition where boys are born with an extra X chromosome
- Noonan syndrome- a genetic disorder that prevents the normal growth of various organs
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What is testosterone therapy?
Testosterone therapy is recommended for patients who may have lost their testicles due to cancer or Klinefelter syndrome. TT involves increasing testosterone levels for adults facing low testosterone due to injury or illness. In addition, TT is a great option if you aren’t experiencing low testosterone due to other conditions. Ordinarily, treating the other conditions will naturally raise your testosterone levels. It’s not clear if it can help with age-related low testosterone. The hormone declines by 1% yearly after age 30.
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Testosterone can be taken in five ways: injection, application through the skin, oral, nasal, and pellets under the skin. The method will be determined by your lifestyle. Your doctor will outline the best way for you to take it.
Types of TT
Topical testosterone can last on the skin for up to four days. It works best when covered with an air-tight dressing. The areas of the skin to be applied should be clean and dry without any cuts or scratches. Don’t wash the area until the next dose. Wash your hands after application. Make sure others don’t touch the medicine, especially women and children. You can opt for a patch if a cream or gel is too messy.
Testosterone injections can be short-acting or long-acting. Short-acting injections are administered in the skin or muscle while long-acting injections are given in the muscle. The injections are periodic with some weekly while others are after a few months.
Oral testosterone doses are patches that are placed in the gum above the canines or incisors. It looks like a tablet but shouldn’t be chewed and swallowed.
Intranasal gel is administered in a chosen nostril three times a day.
Testosterone pellets go under the skin of your upper hip or buttocks. The area is anaesthetised, and the doctor places the pellet in the fatty tissue of the area. The medication dissolves over 3-6 months. However, TT can carry multiple side effects.
Side effects of testosterone therapy
In the surgical incision for pellets or injections, the site can be red or itchy. Some patients also get pain in the area.
It’s also possible to experience an increase in haemoglobin. This is known as erythrocytosis. It leads to having thicker blood which makes blood flow difficult. As a result, you can experience high blood pressure, nausea, blurred vision, headaches, fatigue or nosebleeds.
Testosterone therapy can also interrupt sperm production. If you’re planning on having children or donating sperm soon, delay the treatment. If you are experiencing low sperm production, your doctor may add sperm production boosters to your treatment.
After treatment, testosterone therapy may boost sexual function, increase bone marrow density, improve lean muscle mass, and improve symptoms of depression. Studies show that testosterone boosters can also help men with metabolic syndrome lose weight and build muscle mass. It also reduced the risk of diabetes. Routine doctor visits will monitor testosterone levels and see if production has normalised.
Do you need to boost your Testosterone levels?
Taking testosterone boosters can reduce the body’s ability to create testosterone naturally. It can also shrink the testicles. This is because the body feels that there is enough testosterone. Eventually, with continued testosterone therapy, the body shuts down production.
Studies show that high-volume endurance training can lead to lower testosterone. Long-distance cycling or running can lead to this. Improving sleep patterns, mixing up exercises such as adding strength training, consuming more calories can improve testosterone levels. Raising testosterone naturally can be more effective than resorting to hormone therapy. Research also shows that participating in sex acts such as intercourse or masturbation can boost levels. Managing your weight also helps balance T levels.
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Monitoring your habits to determine what’s leading to low-Testosterone can help you determine the best course of action. If you are stressed or have a sedentary lifestyle, this can cause low-Testosterone. Doctors will typically look at your medical history before suggesting TT but testosterone supplements are widely available and unregulated. It’s best to avoid those unless your physician has approved it. They can be a short-term way to jumpstart better-balanced hormone production.
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