Testosterone is a type of hormone produced by the human body. It is often produced in the testicles of men. What it does is that it stimulates the production of sperm as well as the sex drive of men. It also helps to build muscles and increase the bone mass as well.
Production of testosterone usually decreases when men age. And when the testosterone production decreases more than it should, men would experience a range of symptoms. Men will have low testosterone if the level will fall below the normal range which is 300 – 1,000 ng/dL, which was required by the US Food and Drug Administration. A blood test will be conducted to determine your level of testosterone production.
Various symptoms could happen if the production of testosterone will drop drastically. Low testosterone is a condition called the hypogonadism and is often subtle. In fact, people mistake it as a natural process of aging.
If you have been diagnosed with low testosterone, your missing hormones will be replaced by means of a therapy called the hormone replacement therapy or HRT. This therapy brings back the body’s testosterone levels to normal. By doing this, any symptoms of hypogonadism as well as other related sexual problems will be treated.
The testosterone replacement therapy is available in different forms. Usually, your doctor will first discuss the different options with you and you will be asked to decide which option is acceptable for you. Of course, your doctor will also provide suggestions on which one is the most appropriate. Your level of testosterone will also be checked right after the treatment will start in order for the right dose to be given.
Options for Testosterone Replacement Therapy
As mentioned, there are several different options for testosterone replacement therapy and your doctor should be able to discuss what options are good for you. Here are the various options for testosterone replacement therapy:
- Injections – regular injection will be given to you and will be applied deep to your muscle, which is called the intramuscular injections. Depending on the kind of injection that is recommended by your doctor, this should be done regularly, usually, every 2 – 3 weeks and in some instances, it could be done in every three months. The injection will be done by a doctor or a nurse or you can opt to do it on your own or by your partner. If done correctly, this method of treating your low testosterone level should not be that painful.
- Implants – for implants, cylindrical pellets will be inserted right in your abdomen, in your buttocks or thigh. This will be done by a local doctor and an anesthesia will be applied. Usually, implants are done once in every 3 – 6 months.
- Capsules – the capsules are to be swallowed every day but will only give a lower dose of hormones as compared to the other methods of treating low testosterone level.
- Patches – patches work in the same way with the nicotine patches, which is what people trying to quit smoking will use. For this method, the patches will deliver testosterone gradually, right to the skin by means of a new patch that is attached to the skin every day.
- Gum – the testosterone gum is placed at the mouth, right above the teeth in the front
- Testosterone Gel – this gel will be applied directly to the skin, often on the shoulder, abdomen and arm. This must be used right after showering in order to prevent washing it off too soon.
Is Testosterone Therapy Safe?
Just like with any kind of medication, the testosterone replacement therapy may come with some side effects. But this will basically depend on the kind of therapy used. For instance, if you will choose injection, then you may notice some bruising on your skin. If you will go for the testosterone patches, you may suffer from skin irritation or itching. Remember that the reaction may be different from one person to another.
Men who are undergoing the testosterone replacement therapy are often monitored by their doctor for possible prostate cancer because the therapy will promote the growth of any existing cancer.