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Fact checked by Andrew Lenau, ISSA CPT & Sports NutritionistFACT CHECKED
July 28, 2023
One of the strongest hormones in our body, testosterone is the primary male sex hormone. It's what makes men "men."
Flooding the male body at puberty, testosterone levels continue to rise all the way until their late 20s. After this, it's common to see a man's testosterone levels decline, but some men see such a dramatic decline that it starts to affect their lives negatively. Luckily, in this day and age, there's a fix: testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).
But, as with anything that promises to change your life dramatically, it's worth examining the science. So let's break down the walls surrounding TRT therapy, so you can be armed with the knowledge to take back your vitality.
Table of Contents:
Testosterone, a steroid hormone categorized as an androgen, is predominantly synthesized in the testicles of males, with smaller quantities produced in the ovaries of females.
In males, this hormone assumes a crucial role in the development of reproductive organs like the testicles and prostate, as well as the emergence of secondary sexual characteristics during puberty, such as increased muscle mass, body hair growth, and voice modulation.
Furthermore, testosterone plays a pivotal part in sperm production and maintaining a robust sex drive. Adequate levels of testosterone are essential for the proper functioning of the male reproductive system. Further, testosterone also helps with red blood cell production, which is crucial for physical exertion and workout performance.
Females also rely on testosterone for the development of reproductive tissues and a healthy sex drive. Nevertheless, the levels of testosterone in females are notably lower compared to males, which is a significant contributing factor to the variance in muscle mass observed between the two genders.
Beyond its reproductive functions, testosterone contributes to various non-reproductive processes in both males and females. These include preserving bone density, promoting muscle growth, and facilitating the production of red blood cells.
In addition, testosterone influences the rate of protein synthesis, enhancing muscle building. It also impacts everything from mood, energy levels, and overall well-being in both sexes.
Our natural testosterone levels decline as we get older. However, testosterone levels dip not necessarily because of your age but rather lifestyle choices that generally occur as we age. Nevertheless, below are some of the significant issues maintaining high testosterone levels.
One of the most profound causes of testosterone deficiency, physical inactivity, is also extremely easy to fix¹. The highly unscientific phrase "use it or lose it" seems to apply to our testosterone levels. Sitting all day and not exercising regularly is a sure way to decrease your levels.
If you're not currently on a workout regimen, find a good workout split and include some HIIT into your weekly routine. We discuss this in more detail in our article: Does Working Out Increase Testosterone Levels?
TRT, or testosterone replacement therapy, is used to treat hypogonadal men. Hypogonadism is the term used to describe a condition in men who have low testosterone levels. The average testosterone level in men can range from 300-1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl), meaning that hypogonadal men have testosterone levels below this number.
There have been many forms of testosterone therapy in the past, but the most effective by far is testosterone replacement therapy. TRT differs significantly from these other methods due to its specific mechanism of action.
While other forms of testosterone therapy attempt to boost the amount of naturally-produced testosterone, TRT directly injects synthetic testosterone into the body. In this manner, TRT can control precisely how much or how little testosterone you get.
The use of TRT has exploded over the past decade or so. This popularity is primarily due to the internet and widely-available education, which has eroded some stigma.
People often hear the word "testosterone" and think of illegal steroids, but that's simply due to the confusion between the two. While the testosterone used in TRT is also synthetic, TRT products are produced in licensed medical labs.
Further, you obviously must have a prescription and direct doctor supervision to take TRT and take it. If you have any lingering doubts about its legitimacy vs. anabolic steroids, read our article: Is Testosterone A Steroid? Key Differences Explained.
What are the benefits of taking testosterone therapy? Why should you think about pursuing TRT? Lots of reasons.
Testosterone plays an essential role in so many aspects of a man's life, so much that their entire life can be hindered by anything lower than normal testosterone levels. Proper TRT can drastically improve your quality of life if you suffer from low testosterone.
Since test is a sex hormone, it's pretty easy to assume that your testosterone levels will affect your sex drive. And it does.
For example, a study from 2006 examined the relationship between low testosterone levels and low libido, described as having sexual desire less than once a day². This study found a strong relationship between testosterone levels and sexual desire, with T-levels dropping along with frequency, from once a day to 2-3 times a week to having no sexual desire at all³.
Studies have shown an increase in testosterone would be proportional to an increase in sex drive, which falls in line with the findings of most other studies. Fortunately, TRT has been shown to increase sexual desire in men with low testosterone.
Hypogonadal men not only have lower sexual desire, but when they do have sex, they are less likely to perform well. Many men with low testosterone levels will experience erectile dysfunction of some magnitude.
We should be clear that erectile dysfunction, and other detriments to sexual function, is a multifactorial condition, meaning numerous mechanisms could be responsible for its cause. However, low testosterone has been found to play a role. Most studies have shown that TRT is capable of improving erectile dysfunction and can help completely alleviate mild ED³.
Lipid metabolism is fancy way to say fat metabolism. In other words, it's your body breaking down fat to be used for energy production.
Low testosterone levels have been found to decrease the ability of your body to effectively metabolize lipids for energy use. Doing so could exacerbate other effects of testosterone, such as lower energy levels and increased body fat.
Luckily, studies have shown that TRT treatment can reverse this adaptation and increase the body's ability to utilize fat stores for fuel at an average of about 10%⁴.
This increase in fat utilization causes an increase in the patient's BMR or basal metabolic rate. A person's BMR is basically the amount of calories a person's body utilizes just being alive. So, to be clear, this means that TRT turned the total calories burned from just existing from 2,000 calories to 2,200.
Testosterone has been found to positively affect lean body mass at healthy levels⁵⁻⁶. As mentioned above, a person's BMR can increase by 10% with testosterone replacement therapy. In addition, their energy levels and physical activity will increase. It makes sense that one would improve their body composition when the two are combined.
We want to be clear that this doesn't mean just losing body weight. It means decreasing your body fat percentage by losing fat, gaining or at least maintaining muscle, and even improving bone density.
It's no secret that men have more muscle mass than women, and one of the primary reasons for this is the difference in testosterone levels.
While low testosterone in men will still be higher than normal levels in women, it can still get low enough to impair new lean muscle mass growth. It can even decrease muscle mass if you have enough muscle to start with.
Multiple studies have found a relationship between testosterone drop and the increase of sarcopenia as we age⁷. Sarcopenia is the name of the process of losing muscle tissue as we get older. While several mechanisms are going on simultaneously, these studies have seen an exact correlation between the drop in testosterone levels and increased sarcopenia.
In addition, TRT has been found to increase muscle mass in older men.⁸ I want to mention that this occurs simply by bringing lower testosterone levels back up to a normal range. In other words, you don't need to bring your levels up ultra-high to see results.
Want to dig into this further? Check out The Ultimate Guide to Using TRT For Bodybuilding to learn more!
One of the most essential benefits of TRT is its effects on a man's mental well-being. Over the past years, a lot of research has been done on how testosterone affects the mental state of not just men but women as well.
These studies have shown a definite relationship, and markers such as depression, confidence, and general outlook on life are affected by your testosterone levels⁹.
One thing to keep in mind is that this relationship doesn't seem to necessarily be dose-dependent. In other words, someone whose levels are 505 won't necessarily be happier than someone with testosterone levels of 500. Rather, those with healthy or higher numbers will be happier than those with below-average levels.
This is so important because our mental well-being can bleed into just about every other aspect of our life. For example, depression can cause many symptoms of low testosterone, such as increased body fat and low sexual function. Add in actual low T levels, and it becomes a dangerous cycle.
"I feel like I'm young again" encapsulates the feeling many men report feeling after they begin TRT. Studies have shown that men feel more energetic after about 3-4 weeks of therapy, and their lethargy fades away.
If you have ever woken up on a random morning and feel like you can conquer the world, this is what TRT feels like. While in the past, it depended on getting the right amount of sleep and waking at the right time, now your full tank of energy comes from your higher testosterone levels.
While studies still aren't sure of the exact mechanisms, it's clear there is a relationship between testosterone and brain function. For example, spatial abilities seem to be specifically affected, while memory, learning, and recall are also improved¹⁰.
In addition, TRT may also play a role in combating more severe ailments such as Alzheimer's disease. A large meta-analysis from 2016 looked at seven different studies with 240 cases of Alzheimer's¹¹.
A definite correlation existed with the researchers stating "that low plasma testosterone level was significantly associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease in elderly men."
Interested in reading about men's real experiences using TRT? Check out our article: TRT Before And After: What To Expect & Real-Life Results.
Remember that testosterone is a very powerful compound that dramatically affects the human body, so it's imperative only to take TRT with a licensed medical professional.
The more common side effects include:
Luckily, any possible side effects of testosterone replacement therapy are easily avoidable. All you need to do is perform your TRT under the supervision of a medical professional at a licensed TRT clinic.
While testosterone replacement therapy is an effective form of therapy, it's not for everyone. Choosing to follow TRT is a big decision and should be used by those who really need it.
Let's talk about who should consider it before getting into a list of those who shouldn't.
The one group of men who should search for a quality treatment center are those who hit all of the checkmarks. First, they should be over the age of 30. Any issues that may present themselves before this age could be temporary issues that can be fixed.
Second, they need to be experiencing at least a few low testosterone symptoms. As mentioned above, just one does not justify the inclusion of exogenous testosterone. For example, erectile dysfunction can be a mental problem, and fatigue may be from poor sleep.
Last, they need to have been tested and found to actually have low testosterone levels. As mentioned above, none of the symptoms of low testosterone are isolated to low testosterone. They can all arise from different conditions, so we can't conclude you have low testosterone just from having some of the symptoms.
And if you fall into this category, the good news is that there are tons of options to help you. As an added bonus, it's now more convenient than ever to get testosterone. We talk about this in more detail in our article: Where to Buy Testosterone Online.
While the following people might not experience immediate adverse effects from TRT, it's likely unnecessary, costly, and potentially could cause long-term issues.
TRT may not be the best option for you if:
Unlike a decade ago, getting prescribed testosterone replacement therapy is actually relatively easy now. All it takes is a simple blood test, and with the rise of TRT clinics, almost everyone can get the process started immediately.
As we're now living in the digital world, you have two options to get this done:
Both have pros and cons, so you should decide which is best for you. Some men like the face-to-face aspect and feel better with this medium. However, this can be the more difficult approach as you must find a clinic near you and take the time to drive to your appointments.
On the other hand, online clinics are extremely convenient, and technology has allowed them to offer high-quality interactions. When you consider that the doctors you're working with have had extensive training and experience with online appointments, I personally love them.
One of my favorite online clinics is Fountain TRT. They offer a free personalized TRT evaluation, which includes a testosterone test that you then review with a Fountain provider in a 1-on-1 video call.
During your consultation, your symptoms will be assessed, and your provider will schedule blood work to determine whether you have low testosterone levels. Once your blood work is complete, you'll work with your provider to come up with a personalized treatment plan.
Interested in learning about more great options? Check out these 8 Best Online TRT Clinics to find your perfect fit!
To make sure we covered our bases, we searched for other specific questions people had concerning TRT. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions.
Not directly, but it can give you the ability to get stronger through training. What it can do by itself is prevent the loss of muscle mass.
Testosterone boosters are a form of testosterone therapy that uses various compounds to stimulate the natural production of testosterone. Check out our article on the 7 Best Testosterone Boosters for more information!
Most men begin to feel the benefits relatively fast at around 3-4 weeks.
In our opinion, when you compare all of the benefits of TRT you receive for the price, it's one of the cheapest medical treatments out there. Most men will spend $1,500-$3,000 a year for injections. Liquid testosterone for injections only costs $50-$100 for a 10ml vial of 200mg/ml. However, the cream will cost around $500 for the same amount, which will cost significantly more.
Many insurance companies have started to cover TRT. However, many will still have out-of-pocket costs, but it's relatively cheap. You should check with your specific insurance carrier for a definite answer.
To maximize your results, look at some of your lifestyle choices that could be contributing to your low testosterone levels. Once identified, you can then remedy them. The biggest things you can do are eat a healthy diet, follow a resistance training program, stop smoking, and drink moderately.
We live in an age where medical therapies exist to treat many conditions, including low testosterone.
Even though it affects men in many ways, from sex life and energy to brain function and all-around quality of life, suffering from low levels is nothing to be embarrassed about. It's a natural, expected part of aging for men.
But, as mentioned above, TRT can completely rejuvenate your life. If you're experiencing symptoms of low testosterone, we strongly urge you to fill out the free personalized TRT evaluation. It may be the best decision you can make for your health.
It's never been easier to work with a TRT provider to boost your testosterone levels. Check out the 8 Best Online TRT Clinics, which enable you to get help in the comfort of your home!
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September 23, 2023
September 21, 2023
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