Testosterone therapy: Potential benefits and risks
Testosterone therapy is a treatment that some medical professionals believe can improve the quality of life in older men with low testosterone. Although some risks are associated with this therapy, many men report increased sex drive, better mood, and improvements in muscle mass and bone density. It helps maintain sex drive, sperm production, bone density, muscle mass and strength, and body hair growth. In most men, levels of testosterone decline as they age; this decline occurs much faster in men who are obese or have diabetes or heart disease.
There is no shortage of services providing physician-supervised testosterone therapy treatment options, but before you commit to a TRT program, consider the pros and cons.
Potential Benefits of Testosterone Therapy
1. Better Mood
Some people report feeling more alert, energetic, and generally in a better mood when they have increased testosterone levels. It is thought to be because low testosterone levels impact the brain’s chemical balance by decreasing the activity of dopamine and levels of serotonin, two neurotransmitters associated with positive mood.
2. Better Muscle Mass
Low testosterone can result in a decrease in muscle mass as well as a decrease in bone density and strength. Testosterone therapy can increase the amount of lean muscle mass and help with bone density and strength increases, which may reduce the risk of falls or other types of injuries.
3. Better Sleep
Studies have found that men with increased testosterone levels sleep better than men with low testosterone. Testosterone is a hormone that helps regulate sleep-wake cycles, so it makes sense that if this hormone is deficient, it will impact the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
4. Decreased Risk Of Diabetes
Men with lower testosterone levels are more likely to develop diabetes, mainly if they are obese or have heart disease. It is because testosterone impacts glucose metabolism and insulin resistance, which is associated with the development of diabetes.
5. Decreased Risk Of Heart Disease
Testosterone impacts cholesterol levels, so by increasing testosterone levels, a person may lower his risk for heart disease. High cholesterol and triglyceride levels are risk factors for developing heart disease.
6. Increased Bone Density
Testosterone therapy has increased bone density in men diagnosed with osteoporosis. In these studies, men with low testosterone levels were treated with testosterone injections and experienced improved bone density within six months of treatment.
Potential Risks of Testosterone Therapy
1. Increased Risk Of Stroke
Testosterone therapy may increase the risk of stroke in men with high blood pressure, diabetes, or other risk factors, mainly because testosterone can cause additional increases in blood pressure.
2. Reduced Sex Drive
Men and women both agree that they want to feel like they have more varied sex drives when they are younger. Men getting older and not feeling like they are getting enough sex may decide to use testosterone therapy to try and increase their sex drive; however, studies have found that using testosterone can decrease a man’s interest in sex.
Gynecomastia is a condition in which males develop female breast tissue. This condition can occur in both males and females but is more common in men than women, usually occurring after puberty and usually due to elevated estrogen levels, which occur when testosterone falls too low. Testosterone injections may increase the risk of developing gynecomastia.
4. Liver Damage
Even when testosterone is given in tiny doses, some studies have found that it can still impact liver function, particularly if the person has preexisting liver damage or elevated liver enzymes.
5. Prostate Cancer
Some studies have found that high levels of testosterone may increase the risk of developing certain types of prostate cancer while low levels can decrease this risk; however, many other studies have not been able to find a direct correlation between high grades and prostate cancer. In general, there is no consensus about whether or not testosterone therapy increases or decreases the risk of developing prostate cancer.
The controversial use of testosterone therapy in older men has been the subject of much discussion, with many doctors arguing that it is beneficial and necessary to treat low testosterone. It may be helpful for some patients suffering from comorbidities associated with age, such as obesity, diabetes, or heart disease – where low testosterone levels are a risk factor.