As men age, their testosterone level naturally drops. But if this drop is sudden or causes difficult symptoms, low testosterone treatment may be advisable. If low testosterone due to illness or injury is ruled out, a doctor may prescribe testosterone replacement therapy.
There are several options for testosterone replacement therapy. Testosterone shots can be given every 7 to 22 days. A side effect may be pain at the injection site. Another form of low testosterone treatment is an oral lozenge, which is placed between the cheek and gums to dissolve and is used every 12 hours. Side effects may include gum irritation and adverse liver effects.
A testosterone patch can be applied to the arm or back every morning, and testosterone is absorbed through the skin. Similar to the testosterone patch, a testosterone gel can be applied daily to the upper arms, chest or shoulders each morning. Testosterone is absorbed through the skin and testosterone levels remain elevated for 24 hours.
If you and your doctor decide that the testosterone patch or testosterone gel is right for you, precautions should be taken. Wash your hands after using the testosterone patch or gel. Cover the location of the application. If using testosterone gel, wait until it has dried before touching the area. Make sure that women and children avoid contact with the testosterone patch or gel, especially women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant. If they experience symptoms such as aggressive behavior or facial hair, they should see a doctor immediately.
Other side effects associated with testosterone replacement therapy include sleep apnea, erythrocytosis, acne and breast enlargement. Men receiving low testosterone treatment must also be monitored for prostate cancer and enlarged prostate. Certain groups of men in particular should be routinely screened for prostate cancer while undergoing testosterone replacement therapy. All men should be tested for an elevated hematocrit, which checks red blood cell count. Testosterone replacement therapy can increase the risk of heart failure in men who have had heart, kidney or liver disease.
Low testosterone is normal in men over age 60. But studies have shown that testosterone replacement therapy in elderly men does not have a significant effect on symptoms, and they may also run a higher risk of prostate cancer. Therefore testosterone replacement therapy is only recommended for elderly men with very low testosterone levels or those with low testosterone symptoms that can't be treated in other ways.
Low testosterone is a normal part of aging, but not for young or middle-aged men. For those experiencing problems with low T, there are several options for low testosterone treatment available. Low testosterone treatment can improve libido and overall health. Talk to your doctor to find a low testosterone treatment that will work for you.