Testosterone, the hormone responsible for all development of manly characteristics in a man, is naturally produced by the testicles. Testosterone levels in the body are directly responsible for the maintenance of several traits in a man, like sex drive, sperm production, muscle mass, bone density and growth, appropriate amount of red blood cells, fat distribution, etc.
Typically, a healthy male starts losing testosterone at the rate of 1% annually after 30 years of age. Some men are naturally born with low testosterone levels. Low testosterone is also associated with other factors, like injury or infection to testicles, side effect of some medicines and therapies (like chemotherapy), alcoholism, stress, and other diseases. Usually, the natural process of testosterone reduction does not have a major impact on the man's lifestyle, however, when it starts causing symptoms associated with erectile dysfunction (ED), perhaps it's time to explore Testosterone Replacement Therapy.
Modes of Testosterone Replacement Therapy
Testosterone may be supplemented in the body through different modes that have their own benefits and risks:
- Intramuscular Injections that can be used every 2-3 weeks.
- Testosterone Patches that can be worn daily on the scrotum or other parts of the body like buttocks, abdomen, arms, and back.
- Testosterone Gels that can be applied daily on different parts of the body, like upper arms, shoulders, and abdomen.
- Mucoadhesive Material that can be applied twice a day above the teeth.
- Oral Tablets and Drugs.
- Testosterone Stick that can be applied like an underarm deodorant.
- Long-acting Subcutaneous Implant.
Your doctor may be in a better position to tell you which testosterone replacement therapy you should opt for.
Advantages of Testosterone Replacement Therapy
- Better sexual performance and enhanced sex drive
- Increased bone mineral density
- Improved body composition
- Increase in muscle mass and strength
- Brings positivism in life with persistence of good mood and better quality of life
- Better cognitive function and improved memory. For instance, testosterone replacement therapy is known to improve the quality of life in Alzheimer's patients.
- Improved metabolic syndrome
- Considerable improvement of health in anemic patients
Disadvantages of Testosterone Replacement Therapy
- It is not recommended in prostate cancer patients, since additional testosterone levels are known to stimulate growth of prostate cancer and breast cancer.
- Some men have also reported liver toxicity and liver tumor when treated with testosterone.
- It can also be the cause of diseases, like erythrocytosis (excess of red blood cells in the body), Gynecomastia (abnormal development of large mammary glands in males leading up to breast enlargement), and benign prostatic hyperplasia (increase in the size of prostate without graduating to cancer stage).
- It may also lead to testicular atrophy, i.e., diminished testicular size, which could also be the cause of infertility.
- Transdermal mode of testosterone replacement therapy can cause multiple skin infections, like erythema or pruritus, pain, soreness, bruising, swelling, nodules, furuncles, and acne.
- It may also lead to exacerbation of sleep apnea.