Testosterone Therapy for Men: What’s the Big Deal?
Have you ever wondered why, as we get older, we start to “lose our luster”, begin to question our physical abilities to keep up with those young whippersnappers at work, get fat, run out of gas once we’re home from work, question our “manhood?” We often wiggle these topics into the weekend conversations with our buddies or cringe when someone else brings it up. Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) is the latest “craze” in the wellness arena as men discover the powerful effects it has on our health and sense of well-being. From the standpoint of our hormones, it is what drives our sense of energy, mental clarity, fitness, even our sex drive, among many other beneficial health areas. So, why the “craze?”
Well, for starters, it’s not a “craze” or “health fad” at all. Actually it’s often medically necessary! In fact, it’s estimated that 1 in 3 men are significantly affected by declining levels of testosterone as early as during their mid-30s’.
If you’ve ever had your levels checked (and if not, you should), some medical providers might have told you “your levels are normal for your age” or “they look fine to me” or “it’s just part of getting old.” If you’ve ever heard these responses before, it’s not because your medical provider doesn’t care. It’s because they just don’t know what to do or how to do it or maybe they just don’t believe this is what might be killing you with a slow death. Believe me, this is not something that was a huge topic of education while going through the rigors of our medical training. In fact, 15-20 years ago, there were only 1-2 pages of information at the most, within our “bibles” of medical resources. Nowadays, there are several chapters and even entire books dedicated to Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and hundreds of studies that stress the importance of maintaining optimum levels of hormones.
TRT/HRT has been around for decades, since the early 1950’s. That’s right! This is not a new “thing” or “craze” that was conjured up over the last 5-10 years for the sake of generating massive revenue for those BIG PHARM companies. Many of us don’t even realize it, but as we age and simply go through life, our hormone levels decline, often at a logarithmic pace as we step into our late 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and beyond. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the many other “Mr. Universe” types out there used androgenic steroids in the 1970’s, but we all know their “use” was not therapeutic in nature.
So what! Were there any ill side effects or negative outcomes? We’ll likely never know but I can assure you, if there wasn’t, it was because they were monitored very closely to prevent or mitigate any potential side effects [things such as liver toxicity, aggressive behavior/anger/rages and gynecomastia (aka “man-boobs”)]. “Man-boobs?” Yes, “man-boobs!” This is referred to medically as gynecomastia (gī-nə-kō-ˈmas-tē-ə). If certain hormone levels in men get out-of-whack, the body responds just as a female body would respond and viola! Now your body says to grow boobs.
This is over-exaggerated of course and it does not have to be the result of improper monitoring from testosterone treatment, but I want to make a very important point. If the body is not monitored properly, there can be some “not so desirable” side effects that could ensue as a result. I’ve been studying TRT for over 10 years and in my early years of practice, the “go-to” treatment was the BIG PHARM topicals that were, and still are, widely used today.
These topicals were not the typical steroids used by Arnold and colleagues but they’re easy to prescribe and easy for the patients to use at home, without the need for frequent follow-up visits. Arnold and colleagues didn’t have these back in the day, but if they did, I can assure you they would have had to drink the stuff to get just the slightest results they were looking for. They were using injectable steroids such as Testosterone Enanthate or Testosterone Cypionate (among other things), which are the ones that get the results men are looking for; not just the muscle building effects, but the ones mentioned early in this article (a sense of well-being, feeling energetic again, better mental clarity, improved sex drive, etc).
Today there are more options to choose from, including pellet therapy and a newer injectable version that can last up to 10 weeks (Testosterone Undecanoate-used only at certified AVEED centers). The injectables are great for getting the desired results, but often require frequent (weekly) visits for follow up. The good thing is that you’re usually in-and-out in 10-15 minutes at these specialized TRT/HRT centers like the Key T Wellness Center. On the other hand, the topicals (Androgel, Androderm, Axiron, and others), although convenient, just don’t work well and many of you reading this can attest to this fact. True, they will increase your testosterone levels, but they won’t get you to a therapeutic level to create the desired results.
There can even be some serious side effects that are clearly warned against but often ignored because most who use and treat with these topical options aren’t truly aware of these or dismiss them as insignificant issues. “I mean after all, they (doctors) are keeping you alive from the Hypertension, Diabetes and Obesity that would otherwise have already killed you by now right, so what’s the big deal?” This feeds partly into why I am writing this article. There are some serious side effects if TRT is done too aggressively and if certain blood and physical parameters aren’t monitored thoroughly. If you aren’t being properly monitored (frequent blood tests, periodic physical assessment, to include behavioral changes, etc.), I highly recommend finding an experienced provider at a center that does monitor properly and specializes in this form of treatment.
Much too often, providers don’t monitor because the sub-therapeutic dosing being delivered isn’t high enough to cause any side effect, much less create any benefit. So then, what’s the point of your treatment?
Over the last 4 years, I have immersed myself into this industry and discovered what works, what doesn’t work and why. There are many factors that play into the effectiveness of TRT and there is also much still to be learned and discovered both on the cellular and molecular level. In my pursuit to make the world a better place, one man at a time, I have harnessed the individualized approach to create success for over 95% of those who make the conscious decision to undergo this commitment and life-changing course of treatment. This is not a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment, nor should it be. After all, we aren’t all treated with the same dose of high blood pressure, pain or diabetes medication right? There absolutely MUST be an individualized approach and if you’re not getting this type of treatment, I highly recommend finding someone who does.
There are two main reasons that TRT patients are dissatisfied with their results: 1.) Inexperienced providers’ treatment protocol being inadequate in reaching desired results and/or the treatment is not sustained over a long enough period, or 2.) If treated properly, the patients had unreasonable expectations or were non-compliant (inconsistent treatment visits). All that being said, there is NO GUARANTEE that 100% of men or women treated will experience life-changing benefits. Even though thousands of legitimate studies prove the numerous health benefits to optimizing hormone levels, namely Testosterone in men, some benefits are not always obvious. Take for example, optimizing, or even normalizing T levels, our bone mineral density (i.e. the hardness of our bones) remains stable or improves, thus preventing unanticipated fractures as we age. Ever wonder why the old man or lady who fell never recovered? This is part of the reason! Proper bone density is the key to preventing non-traumatic fractures.
There are two basic reasons bones break: 1.) Abnormal force on normal bones (blunt force trauma, i.e. car wreck) or 2.) Normal force on abnormal bones (thinning bones, or osteoporosis: hip fracture from walking, i.e. the old lady who fell). Numerous studies have also proven significant beneficial outcomes regarding cardiovascular health, as well as, blood sugar levels improving for those with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM), Hypertension and Obesity, and many others, all shown to improve with maintaining proper/optimized T levels.
If TRT is done correctly, and by this, I mean optimizing levels, proper monitoring and follow up, one should only see significantly improved health outcomes that translate into improved energy, mental clarity, libido (sex drive), maintaining/building muscle mass, quality sleep, better mood, etc. This will also translate into billions of dollars saved annually by the entire healthcare industry, including savings to health insurance companies, employers (due to better attendance at work), personal savings from health care costs on medications or illness, and even extend our lives.
The good thing is that most medical insurance companies pay for the treatment at many men’s T clinics. For those that do not, most patients are willing to pay out of pocket once they understand the incredible benefits of proper sustained treatment.
There are, however, therapeutic hormone treatment options in which the medical insurance industry has not yet “bought into” regarding the long-term health benefits of this therapy and how it will save billions in health care costs down the road due to disease prevention. So, ask yourself, is this a “craze” or is it a necessity? You be the judge. We can only hope that more awareness and education continues as it has over the last five years, and if it does, we will maintain better health by prevention rather than chasing our illnesses. “We” [vs “I” (you)] can work together by decreasing or eliminating illness before it impacts us any further. And so by this, we can transform “Illness” to “Wellness” and live healthier and better lives as we age. It is our passion at Key-T Wellness Center to create this Wellness, one man and one woman at a time.