HRT Testosterone: An Overview
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for men is often prescribed to help increase testosterone levels as they decrease in the body. Testosterone is an important hormone that is found in both men and women. However, men produce more of it. It’s important for developing a man’s sexual organs, sex drive, building muscle mass, and maintaining a healthy body.
It’s completely natural for a man to experience a decrease in his testosterone levels as he gets older – this usually happens around the age of 39. While the natural decrease in testosterone in a male doesn’t typically affect the health of the person, it can cause some minor annoyances to happen. Including, but not limited to, bone calcium declining, muscle mass decreasing, and even men being less sexually active.
While it’s not typical for men to require HRT to increase their levels of testosterone, there are some reasons why a doctor might recommend it. One of the primary conditions that HRT is used to treat is hypogonadism, which is when a man experiences unnaturally low levels of testosterone.
It’s typically a dysfunction in the testicles that prevents the body from producing the normal amount of testosterone it requires. These are the types of cases that HRT is most commonly used to increase testosterone levels. This means that natural decreases of testosterone aren’tcommonly treated using HRT. It’s been shown that HRT doesn’t have much of an effect on hormone levels.
Types of Testosterone HRT
If hormone therapy is suggested by your doctor, there are quite a few options that available to you. Some of these options include:
- Intramuscular Testosterone Injections: This treatment is performed by your doctor every two to three weeks. What happens is that your doctor will inject testosterone injections into your buttocks every couple of weeks to make your hormone levels more normal.
- Testosterone Patches: These patches are very similar to nicotine patches. You’ll apply testosterone patches every day to your arms, back, buttocks, or abdomen. These will then slowly add hormones to your bloodstream every day to make the symptoms you might be experiencing lessen. With these patches, you’ll want to make sure that you’re rotating the application sites every couple of days.
- Topical Testosterone Gel: This treatment involves applying a gel to your shoulders, arms, or abdomen every It’s very similar to the testosterone patches, just in a different form.
Keep in mind that these are only three of the HRT options available to you if hormone therapy is recommended. If it comes down to it, ask your doctor for all the options that would work best for you and your condition.
What are the Risks of Testosterone HRT?
As with any medical treatment, HRT comes with the risk of side effects – both relatively minor and serious. In this next section, we’re going to talk about some of the more common minor side effects that you might experience and some of the more common serious side effects you should be aware of before starting HRT.
Minor Side Effects:
- Fluid Retention: This is the buildup of excessive fluid in the circulatory system, body tissues, or cavities of your body. While this is a treatable condition, it can be scary and can cause discomfort.
- Acne: Think of testosterone therapy as going through bouts of puberty. You’re introducing testosterone into your body that it isn’t used to create, so it’ll be like you’re going through puberty again regarding
- Increased Urination: You might find that with your treatment you might find that you have an increased need to urinate more frequently.
Serious Side Effects:
- Breast Enlargement: This is often called gynecomastia, and it’s a condition where your breasts grow due to an increased amount of breast gland tissue that is forming due to the increased hormone levels.
- Decreased Testicle Size: This is often referred to as testicular atrophy. You’ll know if this is happening because you’ll start to notice that your testicles are smaller than they usually are.
- Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea is a serious condition where your breathing will stop and start throughout the night. The most common symptoms of it include loud snoring and feeling exhausted even after a full night’s sleep.
- Increased Cholesterol Levels: Increased cholesterol levels are incredibly serious. Cholesterol is a fatty substance produced by your body and found in certain foods. While your body needs cholesterol to function properly, too much of it can lead to a higher chance of a heart attack or stroke.
- Infertility:HRT treatments can cause you to be unable to reproduce. This is due to the possibility that your body isn’t able to use the testosterone that you’re putting into your body and not being able to produce enough of it itself.
- Lower Sperm Count: Along with causing infertility, HRT can also cause your sperm count to lower. This is because some of the exogenous hormones being added to your body can have a negative effect on your body’s ability to produce sperm.
- Increased Red Blood Cell Count: Having an increased red blood cell is a very serious condition that can lead to even more health problems down the road. This is the increased presence of oxygen-carrying cells in your bloodstream. There are quite a few things that can be related to an increased red blood cell count:
- Muscle Pain
- High Blood Pressure
- Blurry Vision
- Chest Pain
- Blood Clots
It is so important to know the side effects that might arise from testosterone HRT because some of them are easy to treat whereas others can be deadly. Before you start any sort of treatment, make sure that you talk with your doctor to see if you might have a higher risk for some of the possible side effects.
Talk to Your Doctor Before Starting HRT
While testosterone HRT might be helpful to men with unnaturally low levels of testosterone, there are plenty of risks that should not be overlooked. As mentioned above, it’s so important to talk with your doctor before starting any sort of therapy to increase your hormone levels. You might find that the benefits don’t outweigh the consequences, or it might not be something you have to do to increase your hormone levels.
Whatever you decide, make sure to have a thorough conversation with your doctor before jumping into any therapy treatment.