As part of the normal aging process, a man’s body begins to suffer from declining hormone production and testosterone is one of those hormones. Healthline states that a man’s testosterone levels begin to slowly decline at the age of 25. Due to some of the symptoms that you can experience, many men choose testosterone replacement therapy.
Testosterone is a hormone produced in the testicles. As the primary sex hormone, it is responsible for your sex drive and sperm production. Testosterone also plays a role in muscle mass, red blood cell production, and bone density. The production of this hormone is triggered by other hormones released by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland.
A gradual decline in testosterone often is not distinguishable. When levels have dropped significantly over time or have rapidly dropped, symptoms may be noticed. Low testosterone can cause sexual performance issues including erectile dysfunction. A decline in testosterone levels can also cause difficulty sleeping, a loss in bone density, and rapid weight gain.
Testosterone therapy also called testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), is available in multiple forms. You can choose a topical cream, oral medication, transdermal patch, or injections. Your doctor can help you decide which method is best based on your specific needs.
The skin patch, called a transdermal patch, is placed on the upper body or arm and is used once a day. Another patch delivery option is the mouth patch, which involves a small patch that is placed on your gum. Topical creams and gels are applied directly to the skin, or in a gel that can be applied to the inside of the nose. Injections are intramuscular; they are injected directly into your muscles.
Hypogonadism is a condition that can cause sharp declines in testosterone levels. TRT is one of the main treatments for this condition. If hypogonadism is not present, you may be advised to have TRT as part of a treatment plan for other conditions such as immune system disorders and genetic conditions.
Mild side effects of TRT include insomnia, itchiness at the application site, and rash. You may also experience an acne breakout or enlarged breast tissue. Severe side effects include an increased risk of blood clot formation, sleep apnea, and heart failure. If you have any type of heart condition, doctors do not recommend TRT. Additionally, the topical creams and gels must be applied in areas that do not expose children or pregnant women to the treatment.
Testosterone replacement therapy is an option when your low testosterone levels are problematic. Your doctor can help you determine if TRT is the right treatment after testing your testosterone levels. If your levels are low enough, the therapy can help change your quality of life.