Low testosterone (known colloquially as “Low T”) in men has become quite an epidemic. Countless men across America – and the rest of the world – are being prescribed testosterone (either as injection, gel, or skin patch) in order to restore their health and vitality. While the advantages and benefits of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) are indubitably promising, is TRT safe for men?
Read on as this article details the nature of low T, why more men are being prescribed TRT, and the safety concerns of TRT you should be aware of.
What Is Low T and What Causes It?
Testosterone is, quite literally, the “manly hormone.” It’s the primary androgenic steroid in humans, meaning it promotes the development of male sexual characteristics (among a variety of other physiological roles).
Without adequate testosterone, even seemingly simple daily activities can become quite a chore. No man likes the feeling of crawling out of bed and having no energy or motivation to be productive. Sure, an occasional “lazy day” where all you want to do is lounge on the couch can be a nice respite for any man, but when that becomes routine, something is wrong.
Low T can arise due to a variety of reasons, many of which act in insidious manners. For example, not sleeping enough and being chronically stressed out are two common factors that decrease testosterone in males. By the same token, drinking excessive alcohol and being obese can also reduce testosterone.
As you can see, lifestyle factors play a role in your testosterone levels. This is not to say that low T can also come about due to factors that are out of your control, such as a pituitary malfunction or an accident that critically damages your testicles.
It’s important to note that determining whether or not TRT will be safe for a man is something a skilled physician and and labwork will help determine. If you’re experiencing low T due to lifestyle factors, like poor diet, lack of sleep, and sedentary lifestyle, you should be proactive about changing those before resorting to TRT.
However, if you experience chronic low T despite living an otherwise healthy lifestyle, then you might be a good candidate for TRT (and it will be much safer).
Indications of Low T (Testosterone)
In past decades, males were less educated about testosterone; many were not aware that low T could be the underlying cause of their decreased vitality, lack of libido, brain fog, drowsiness, and multitude of other debilitating symptoms.
Due to recent advances in our understanding of low T and its prevalence, endocrinologists and pharmaceutical companies alike have been more proactive about direct-to-consumer marketing, making men aware that they should have their testosterone levels checked if they are experiencing symptoms. This is especially pertinent for men over 30, as research suggests that testosterone levels start to decline right around this age.
Naturally, this has led to rising diagnoses of males with low T (clinically known as hypogonadism).
But what exactly are the symptoms and signs that you might have low T? Here’s an abridged list of what you might experience from low T:
- Erectile dysfunction (impotence)
- Reduced libido/sex drive
- Reduced muscle bulk and strength
- Decreased energy (fatigue) despite adequate rest
- Depression and anxiety
- Poor concentration (brain fog) and recall
- Small or shrinking testes
- Loss of body and pubic hair
- Low red blood cell count (anemia)
- Brittle bones and general weakness
- Body fat increase
- Sleep apnea (or other sleep disorders)
- Development of breast tissue (gynecomastia)
It’s important to note that while you may exhibit several (or all) of these symptoms, it’s essential to confirm that you have low T with the appropriate blood work. As this article will discuss later, TRT is exceptionally safe if you actually have low T.
For example, being depressed and experiencing brain fog are also symptoms of mental disorders and are not exclusively caused by low T. Thus, if you were to try and treat your depression with TRT (without first confirming you have low T), the health risks from using testosterone would likely increase.
If you’re experiencing the above symptoms, contact Gameday Men’s Health today and a licensed physician can order the proper labwork for you, as well as guide you through the process of restoring your testosterone to healthy levels if you have low T.
Is Low T on the Rise?
While modern medicine and scientific research have given us a much clearer grasp of how the human endocrine system functions, it remains to be elucidated what is causing the rise in low T diagnosis. Some research suggests that low T is more common nowadays due (in part) to the rather sedentary lifestyle that many men lead, along with neglect for healthy food choices.
It’s also postulated that exposure to man-made toxins, like xenoestrogens found in certain personal care products and environmental contaminants, may disrupt the human endocrine system.
Of course, we can’t rule out the fact that men these days are just more proactive about their health, as well as being more knowledgeable about how important testosterone is for their well-being. This is largely due to an increase in male health clinics across the country and the uprise of social media – allowing doctors and pharmaceutical companies to connect with consumers in a more direct manner than ever before.
It’s really no surprise that more men are being prescribed TRT nowadays. The issue of low T has likely been an epidemic for quite some time; we are now just more proactive about treating it.
Naturally, many men who have low T have initial reservations about taking testosterone. Is TRT safe in the long run? What are the potential health risks of TRT? The next section will take a deeper look at these pressing questions.
What Are the Potential Risks of TRT?
A fairly small number of males who start TRT will experience some initial side effects of testosterone use, such as oily skin, acne, breast swelling or inflammation, and night sweats. These tend to subside as TRT advances and testosterone levels become more stable.
For older men who are on long-lasting TRT there appears to be at a slightly greater risk of metabolic issues, like high blood pressure and high cholesterol; however, these can be avoided with routine blood testing and proper medication adjustments. GameDay specialists help ensure that patients on TRT remain in the healthy range for metabolic and cardiovascular biomarkers, drastically reducing any potential health risks.
On the flip-side, the health risks of neglecting to treat low T are likely more life-threatening than TRT. Longitudinal data suggests that males with lower testosterone generally have a shorter lifespan (i.e. are at a greater risk of all-cause mortality) than those with testosterone levels in the healthy range. Due to advances in hormone replacement therapy and medications – like the bioidentical hormones prescribed by physicians at Gameday Men’s Health – the advantages of TRT far surpass the potential risks (especially if you have chronically low T).
TRT should be a mutual decision made with your physician. Be wary of doctors and specialists who are quick to prescribe you TRT without first confirming the diagnosis through proper blood testing (and possibly medical imaging, if necessary). At GameDay Men’s Health, each member is first tested for Low T, then has a comprehensive consultation with a medical provider.
Additionally, GameDay always measure PSA levels and hematocrit before prescribing TRT. If your PSA is below 4.0, you can safely being TRT. If your hematocrit is above 50, you will need to donate blood first before beginning TRT (this is to ensure safety and long-term success).
There are, sadly, clinics out there that are just out to make a quick buck, taking advantage of males who don’t feel well by prescribing them testosterone as a quick-fix that can ultimately have long-term risks.
Is TRT Safe For You?
All in all, TRT will be much safer for you if you have accurate assessments for low T performed and are under the care of a knowledgeable licensed physician, such as the specialists at Gameday Men’s Health.
You’ll need to be sure you’re not simply assuming you have low T because you feel tired, depressed, and/or have low sex drive, for example. Feeling fatigued is not an adequate diagnosis for low T, and won’t necessarily be remedied by taking a testosterone prescription.
Furthermore, if you’re experiencing symptoms of low T but your blood work comes back normal/healthy, chances are that TRT isn’t going to treat the underlying cause of your symptoms. This is imperative to consider as taking testosterone in a case where you already have adequate endogenous testosterone production can be unsafe. Remember, always confirm the suspicion that you have low T with proper bloodwork.
Getting Accurate Assessments for Low T
Misinterpreted or inaccurate blood test results can lead to false diagnosis of low T or potentially cause someone who has low T to go undiagnosed. Testosterone levels naturally peak in the morning hours, between 7 AM and 10 AM. Therefore, you should try to have your levels checked during that time frame for proper accuracy. You will likely need to confirm your initial blood work results with a follow-up blood test. The specialists at GameDay will help interpret your results and answer any questions you have. If you are in fact diagnosed with low T, you should consider TRT, especially if the side effects are reducing your quality of life.
Ask Your Doctor about Your Concerns
Before starting (and during) TRT, ensuring a completely open line of communication between you and your physician is the most practical and straightforward way to ensure your safety. This is precisely why one of the core values at Gameday Men’s Health is direct and simple communication. If you’re dealing with a physician who is giving you the runaround and not answering your questions about the safety of TRT, run. Run far away.
Here are some questions and concerns Gameday Men’s Health physicians often hear from prospective TRT patients:
- Will TRT increase the risk of prostate cancer?
- Is it ok to use testosterone despite having a history of cardiovascular complications?
- Will I have to stay on TRT forever?
- Which form of testosterone is best?
Have Realistic Expectations About TRT
TRT at GameDay Men’s Health is designed to return you to high functioning physical levels. It can increase libido, support healthy erectile function, enhance vitality and energy, promote muscle growth, and bolster cognitive processes. For the vast majority of men, TRT gets them back to feeling healthy, happy, and motivated. Those are the expectations you should have.