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Is Testosterone Replacement Therapy Safe?

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Testosterone levels peak at the onset of puberty and then naturally begin to decrease by 1% per year from the age of around 30. Between the ages of 25 and 75 our T levels can fall by 30%.

One common method of replacing lost hormones is ‘testosterone replacement therapy’. In this article we’ll take a look at this particular type of medical intervention and what the research says about its safety.

  • What is testosterone replacement therapy?
  • Is it safe?
  • What else can you do to support your hormones?

Read on to learn about your hormone levels, symptoms of low testosterone and the potential side effects of hormone replacement therapy.


Testosterone levels and symptoms of ‘low T’

Normal testosterone levels for a man should lie somewhere between 300 and 1000ng/dL. Unfortunately, as we age our T levels naturally start to drop, and unless you do something to combat it, levels may eventually fall below the normal range.

Clinical hypogonadism, or ‘low T’ is diagnosed when your T levels drop below 300ng/dL. Currently, it is thought that 4 or 5 million men in the US suffer from this condition.

Research has shown that between the ages of 25 and 75, total T levels can fall by as much as 30%. On top of that, your free testosterone – this is the more biologically available T, can also decline – by approximately 50%. Both can have significant impact on your health [1].

As your T levels drop you may begin to suffer from a number of health-related side effects, particularly in the long-term. These include:

  • Loss of muscle and strength
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Increased body fat, particularly around the middle
  • Loss of body hair
  • Loss of libido, sexual appetite and reduced sperm quality
  • Erectile dysfunction and shrinking of testicles
  • Reduced cognition and concentration
  • Growth of breast tissue, referred to as gynecomastia

T-Levels-and-Ageing

Key Point: From the age of around 30, testosterone levels fall by 1% per year. Low levels – often referred to as ‘hypogonadism’, affects around 5 million US men.


What is testosterone replacement therapy?

Many men choose to go with TRT for fear of suffering the side effects of low T. According to a recent research review, testosterone replacement therapy is the primary treatment option for hypogonadism [2].

It is estimated that around 2.3 million men are currently using some form of T-therapy.

This type of therapy comes in many different forms. You can use skin patches that are worn on the arm or upper body, gels that are absorbed through the skin or oral patches. You can also replace your lost testosterone by injections and implants that are administered directly into the muscle, or as a pellet-like surgical implant delivered into your soft tissue.

In the grand scheme of things, injections are the most potent, but typically your physician will advise you on which method they feel is most appropriate for you. Around 1 in 10 men say that TRT has changed their quality of life, whereas the others say the differences are negligible.

Some benefits – such as an increase in energy and libido – may occur straight away, whereas physical benefits such as fat loss or muscle gain may take weeks or months.

Where many people disagree about male hormone therapy is whether or not these potential benefits are outweighed by the risks. As TRT has not been around for that long there simply hasn’t been enough time to properly assess the long-term risks. Read on to find out what these are…


TRT-and-Cardiovascular-Risk

Key Point: TRT is a common form of testosterone replacement. It comes in patch, gel, surgical implant or injection form.


Is TRT safe?

Testosterone is a steroid hormone with actions in a wide variety of organs and tissues. As with any medical intervention, you need to properly weight up the risks against the potential benefits when you are deciding to undergo TRT or not.

It has been suggested that the safety and risks of testosterone replacement therapy depend upon age, life circumstances, and other medical conditions [3].

Firstly, there appears to be a link between TRT and cardiovascular risk. In a large study of over 55,000 men, researchers at the National Cancer Institute in the US [4] found that men older than 65 who had a history of heart disease had double the risk of a heart attack after 3 months of T-therapy.

There is also research to suggest links to stroke as well – a neurological disease that affects the blood vessels of the brain. A study by JAMA published in 2014 found that in if men were given TRT after a preventative artery cleaning procedure, they were 30% more likely to suffer a stroke [5].

One of the reasons why these cardiovascular complications may occur is that TRT causes blood cells to increase in size and become thicker – and this may increase the chances of a blood clot forming. Similarly, this type of therapy has been found to increase the number of blood cells too – a condition called polycythemia. 

The link between cardiovascular risk and TRT led to a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee examination in 2014. 

There are a number of other side effects that have been reported too. These include

  • Sleep apnea – a condition where the airways that control breathing become obstructed during sleep
  • Acne, oily skin and irregular hair growth caused by hormone imbalance
  • Reduced fertility – TRT is not appropriate for men who are interested in fathering a child
  • Edema – swelling of the ankles
  • Gynecomastia – enlarged breast-like tissue.

Currently, the FDA states neither the benefits nor the safety of testosterone therapy have been established for low testosterone levels due to aging. As of 2015, the FDA has required that testosterone labels include warning information about the possibility of cardiovascular complications. 


Summary

As we age, testosterone levels begin to decline. Between the ages of 25 and 75, T levels can fall by as much as 30% and this can lead to a number of health-related symptoms including loss on muscle mass and strength, reduced libido and decreased bone health.

A common method of testosterone replacement is TRT – endogenous hormone replacement via gel, patch, implant or injection. It doesn’t work for everyone though and the benefits are different for each individual patient.

There have been a number of side effects linked to TRT which has led many to question the safety of testosterone therapy. These side effects including cardiovascular complications such as heart attack and stroke, as well as blood thickening and polycythemia.

Subsequently, the FDA issued that all medications need to carry warnings on labels including warning information about the possible complications this type of therapy may cause.


What else can you do to boost T levels?

A good way to avoid medical hormone replacement is to boost your testosterone levels safety and naturally by taking an anabolic support complex supplement such as TestoFuel.

It contain only safe ingredients guaranteed to support your hormones and help your body release its own testosterone.

TestoFuel contains specifically selected nutrients such as oyster extract, magnesium and zinc, which have been shown to increase testosterone release in the body.

This supplement has the ability to support:

  • Muscle Growth and Strength – the golden chalice of weight lifting
  • Improved Recovery – hit the gym time and time again
  • Enhanced Energy – you’ll be able to train longer and harder to maximize results

TestoFuel is ideal for improving your performance both in and out of the gym, and helping you attain that all-important muscular physique.


References

  1. Moffat SD et al. Longitudinal assessment of serum free testosterone concentration predicts memory performance and cognitive status in elderly men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002; 87(11): 5001-5007.
  2. Kumar, P et al. Male hypogonadism: Symptoms and treatment. J Adv Pharm Techn Res. 2010; 1(3): 297–301.
  3. Bassil, N et al. The benefits and risks of testosterone replecement therapy : a review. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2009; 5: 427–448
  4. Finkle, WD et al. Increased Risk of Non-Fatal Myocardial Infarction Following Testosterone Therapy Prescription in Men. PLOS One. 2014; 9(1): e85805.
  5. Kuehn, BN et al. Cardiovascular Risks of Testosterone. JAMA. 2014; 311(12): 1192

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