What Can I Expect From Testosterone Replacement Therapy?
What is testosterone replacement therapy?
Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), also known as androgen replacement therapy (ART), is a medical treatment for boosting testosterone levels in the body. For males, it’s most commonly prescribed to treat the effects of hypogonadism, which is when the testes are not functioning to the correct capacity or at all. It’s also a critical component of transgender hormone therapy where someone is seeking to transition from female to male. More controversially, TRT can be used to counteract the effects of male aging, however this treatment is still considered largely experimental and is not widely used. It’s still subject to clinical trials, with results being mixed. So if you’re asking, “What can I expect from testosterone replacement therapy?” then read on.
What is the treatment method?
TRT has a variety of treatment delivery methods, the use of which depends on the dosage needed and the desired results as well as the individual needs of the patient. TRT can be administered through injections, skin creams, gels, patches, or subcutaneous pellets. Often during treatment, your doctor will want to explore the use of several of these different methods to determine what is right for you.
What are the health benefits?
The main goal of TRT is to increase the amount of testosterone in the body, which presents several benefits. It’s important to note here, however, that these benefits are largely dependent on a person’s need for the TRT. If you’re a male suffering hypogonadism or a female seeking to transition to a male, then you are more likely to see these positive effects. Whether these remain sound for men wanting TRT to reduce the effects of male aging is still a matter of considerable debate.
More testosterone in the body can result in improved sex drive, lessen depression, increase energy levels, reduce body fat, increase muscle mass, and improve bone density. TRT is also likely to thicken your vocal cords, deepen your voice, and increase the amount of your body hair. Given the likely purpose for which you will be taking TRT, these are also considered benefits rather than side effects, although they have no direct link to health.
Are there any side effects?
Any changes in hormone levels within the body will inevitably produce side effects. Hormones control and regulate almost every bodily function, therefore side effects of this kind of treatment are largely unavoidable. Most can be managed, however.
Heart disease is probably the largest and most concerning of the side effects. Additional testosterone being introduced into the body puts pressure on the heart, so you should take care to exercise good heart health if you are considering this kind of treatment. Those with existing heart conditions may be at higher risk of this side effect. TRT can also raise your risk of diabetes, as too much testosterone can affect the body’s ability to create and process insulin.
Other possible side effects include acne, fluid retention, risk of prostate abnormalities, including cancer, shrinking of testicles, increased urination, risk of blood clots and stroke, worsening of sleep apnea symptoms, and increased aggression and mood swings.
How soon will I feel the results?
Some patients report feeling increased energy and strength within mere days of starting TRT, but the results do vary from person to person. Generally, you should expect to start feeling a difference within two to four weeks of starting treatment. Do not be alarmed if you do not feel results right away. However, if you’re concerned that TRT may not be working, you should discuss this with your treating doctor.
How do I know if I need testosterone replacement therapy?
If you think you may require TRT, your best course of action is to speak with your doctor. They will be able to offer you the most expert advice and conduct the relevant tests to see if TRT is right for you. And once you start treatment, regular check ins with your treating doctor are essential. It’s critical that your TRT is appropriately monitored to ensure its continued effectiveness and management of any potential side effects.