3 Treatment Options for Low Testosterone
Reduced testosterone levels come with several unpleasant symptoms, including decreased sex drive, lack of energy and potential erectile dysfunction. However, the potential side effects of testosterone replacement are severe. Medical opinion is divided on the utility of testosterone replacement therapies in terms of overall health. Make sure that you have a genuine need for such replacement via blood tests and medical consultation before starting any program of testosterone replacement. Low testosterone can also be a sign of another underlying medical issue; men's bodies produce less testosterone to allow their immune systems to work harder under such circumstances. A full medical checkup may reveal a separate underlying cause that requires treatment before pursuing hormone therapies.
There are several forms of injectable testosterone. It is a relatively inexpensive form of treatment, and the injections are only needed once every week or two at most. However, the nature of injections means that keeping a steady level of testosterone is difficult. Levels straight after an injection tend to be too high, and they are too low just before the next injection. This variation makes the likelihood of common testosterone replacement side effects such as weight gain, acne and increased fluid retention higher, due to the front loading of the hormone.
Testosterone Replacement Gels
This form of testosterone is applied to the skin on your chest, arms or shoulders daily, at around the same time each day. It is the easiest form of treatment, but it costs more than injections and comes with the risk of the gel rubbing off onto anyone you touch or hug while you're wearing it. Some users of this form of testosterone have reported problems with the side effect of increased red blood cells, which leads to potential blood thickening.
Testosterone Replacement Patch
When using this method, you apply a transdermal patch for testosterone replacement dosing each night. The patches are usually secure, but they may come off if you sweat during the night or are a restless sleeper, and there is a risk of skin irritation. The usual testosterone side effects are found with this method, including worsening of sleep apnea and an enlarged prostate with more frequent urination, which can make getting a restful night's sleep more difficult.
Low testosterone levels are quite easy to diagnose. A simple blood test lets your doctor measure the exact amount in your blood, though this measurement should be done more than once to take account of varying levels throughout the day. Deciding how, or even whether, to treat it is a different matter. The main medical response to the problem is testosterone replacement therapy.