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Testosterone Replacement Therapy- its causes, benefits, and risks

Testosterone Replacement Therapy

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘testosterone’? Of course, most of us relate this to type A male behavior. However, the association of male aggressive behavior with testosterone is merely true.

What is testosterone?

Testosterone or the male sex hormone is basically responsible for the physical and emotional wellbeing of male. Human body naturally produces testosterone hormone that mainly affects the reproductive health in male. Surprisingly, the female body also produces testosterone but in significantly lower quantities than males.

Symptoms of lower testosterone levels in males are often perceived as a part of ageing. The clinical awareness regarding the problem seems appalling especially in countries where societal stigma overweighs the need to address sexual health problems.

Before I finally sought help from the best sexologist in Karachi, I was already struggling with fatigue, decreased libido and sleep loss for months. This consultation with the physician was the start of my journey with testosterone therapy. Here is all you need to about testosterone therapy;

What is testosterone therapy?

Generally speaking, testosterone therapy is the most common practice to treat the lower testosterone in males. Many people who receive the treatment reportedly regain their energy and have a better sex drive. But before you take the plunge, make sure you are aware of the unknown risks associated with it.

What testosterone does to your body?

Testosterone hormone plays several functions in the human body but is mainly responsible for the reproductive health in males. Testosterone plays the following roles in the human body including

  • It plays the role in ‘male brain’ development in early developmental stages
  • Testosterone is responsible for male puberty (thicker voice, testes enlargement, growth of body and facial hair)
  • Moreover, the bone density in males is dependent on testosterone
  • It plays a key role in red blood cells production as well as in fat distribution
  • Further, it is associated with muscle mass and strength
  • Most importantly, sex drive and sperm production depend upon testosterone.

Why does testosterone level drop?

Several possible reasons affect the testosterone levels in the human body including;

  • Ageing
  • Testicle injuries
  • Dysfunctioning of pituitary and hypothalamus glands
  • Cancer treatment
  • Diseases like AIDS and tuberculosis

How can I get testosterone therapy?

You must be wondering how you can get testosterone therapy? There are several ways that can improve the levels of testosterone in the body including;

  1. Transdermal testosterone therapy-This is an efficient way to restore normal testosterone levels in the male’s body by using transdermal testosterone patches. The patch is worn on the skin or upper body that slowly works to improve testosterone levels.
  2. Testosterone gel- Testosterone therapy can also be performed by using the gels that are directly absorbed through the skin. These gel packets are readily in the market and can be used on a doctor’s prescription.
  3. Mouth patch testosterone therapy- These mouth patches stick to the oral cavity and release testosterone from time to time.
  4. Implants and injections- This is the way to directly injecting or implanting the testosterone in the muscles and soft tissue. Your body can slowly extract testosterone from these pills and pellets adding it to the bloodstream.
  5. Pills- Well, another way to do testosterone therapy is the oral administration of testosterone in the form of pills.

Is testosterone therapy actually harmful?

Although many sexologists advocate the use of testosterone therapy there are many reported side effects of it. Some of the side effects of testosterone therapy are;

1- Prostatic hypertrophy

Ageing naturally results in the enlargement of the prostate gland in males which causes problems while urinating. However, the therapy-induced increase in testosterone levels even makes the situation worse.

2- Prostate cancer

Many pieces of research support the hypothesis that testosterone therapy is associated with the stimulation of prostate cancer in the male. Regarding the matter, when I saw my physician at mahar medical center in Karachi, he first screened me for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) before initiating the therapy.

3- Thrombosis

Testosterone therapy can increase the risk formation of blood clots due to the increase in the number of red blood cells due to therapy.

4- Heart failure

Previously testosterone has been linked with the heart disease but this association is still unclear. However, a safe practice that the patients already suffering congestive heart failure should avoid them.

5- Other side effects

Besides these, several other consequences of testosterone therapy include

  • Acne
  • Breast enlargement
  • Shrinkage of testis
  • Fluid retention

Should I get testosterone therapy or not?

Well, it is impossible to give a generalized opinion because the therapy has its pros and cons. However, before going for testosterone therapy, you should always consider;

  • Discussing the problem with your sexologist
  • Avoid needless supplementation and go for proper assessment
  • Try natural ways to increase your testosterone levels (i.e. increase your zinc and potassium intake, focus on what you eat, make a workout routine)

 

Written by Frederick Jace

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