Just as women lose estrogen as they age, men experience decreased testosterone production as they get older. While a testosterone deficiency can affect males of any age, it’s far more common for middle-aged and senior men to experience. This is a normal part of the aging process, but it can result in side effects that inhibit the quality of life for men.
Fortunately, advances in hormone replacement therapy provide a way for compensating for the loss of those hormones, which will alleviate or reduce the side effects that result from diminished testosterone levels. Some side effects of reduced testosterone production are:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Inhibited sex drive
- Loss of muscle mass
- Weight gain/weight control problems
In the majority of cases, the loss of testosterone is gradual and may not produce noticeable side effects, so hormone replacement therapy will not be necessary. However, some men do experience a significant dip in their testosterone production as a rest of a problem in the testes that’s called hypogonadism. When this condition develops, the testes no longer function as they should and that means they can’t produce the hormones the body needs.
An individual can be born with hypogonadism, but it’s more likely for men to develop the condition later in life. Even though hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, can help restore an individual’s sex drive and performance, healthy men should not try to obtain testosterone treatments. If you don’t suffer from hypogonadism and receive HRT treatments, the process can have the opposite effects on you. In addition to a reduced sex drive and erectile dysfunction, too much testosterone in your system can increase your risks of developing prostate cancer, heart attack, and stroke. For this reason, you should seek help from experienced and trained clinicians, so it can be verified that poor testosterone production is really the cause of the symptoms you’re experiencing.
What Do Hormone Replacement Therapy Treatments Entail?
There are three ways men can receive hormone replacement therapy to compensate for insufficient testosterone production. Intramuscular testosterone injections involve having the hormones injected into the body with a shot that’s given in the muscle of the buttocks. This treatment must be administered by a doctor or clinician every two to three weeks throughout the individual’s life. Failing to keep up with HRT treatments will result in a decrease of testosterone levels in the body. Alternatively, you may be prescribed testosterone patches, which function much like any other type of medicated patch. For best results, patches should be applied to alternating sites on the body and can be applied to the forearm, buttocks, or abdomen.
The final option involves a topical gel that the individual applies to his arm, abdomen, or buttocks each day. You and your healthcare provider will have to discuss which option is best for your situation. While HRT is a natural form of treatment that only involves replacing the natural hormones that your body has stopped making, that’s not to say there won’t be any side effects. For the most part, hormone replacement therapy causes only minor side effects that may not even be noticed, although the severity and frequency of side effects will vary from person to person. The most mild side effects of testosterone therapy can include retaining fluid, more frequent urination, and a flare-up of acne. Some men may notice that their breast size has increased, or that their testicle size has decreased. If the individual previously suffered from sleep apnea, or inhibited breathing during sleep, the condition may worsen with HRT treatments.
Since the therapy can sometimes cause a reduction in sperm count, the treatment may cause infertility in some men. Hormone replacement therapy can also result in an increase of red blood cells, which produces additional side effects. For this reason, men are warned they may experience hypertension, muscle pain, blurred vision, chest pain, or blood clotting. The likelihood of experiencing these side effects will depend on your health condition at the time you begin therapy. Undergoing a complete physical exam will help you learn more about the side effects you’ll be more likely to experience from hormone replacement therapy. If you believe you’re suffering from insufficient testosterone production, the best thing you can do for yourself is to get tested as soon as possible.
Our counselors can answer any questions you may have and help you understand how you can get started. You can call us at 205-352-9141 to learn more about our hormone replacement therapy services. While decreased hormone therapy is natural, you don’t have to continue living with the side effects that it causes. We can help.