When it comes to hormone replacement therapy, there are many important questions to consider, one of which is this: What type of ongoing support, if any, will you receive? For example, maybe your primary care doctor or endocrinologist plans to start you on a low dose of testosterone. Or you order some hormones online to …
What Is a Hormone Imbalance?
A hormone imbalance is a result when your body has too much or doesn't have enough of a hormone. This commonly occurs in men as they grow older.
When women begin to experience menopause, female hormones take a precipitous drop, and it causes many bothersome symptoms. This occurs when the ovaries slow down the production of estrogen, and it is the reason that there is a hormonal imbalance.
Something similar happens to men. At about the age of 40, testosterone production starts to decline and continues to do so at a rate of about 1% to 2% each year. Because this decline is not a dramatic drop like it is for women, men barely notice that this is happening. This is known as the "male menopause" in the vernacular language, but it is clinically known as "andropause."
What Are the Different Types of Hormone Imbalances?
Men experience three types of hormonal imbalances. They are hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and andropause.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroxine. When there is too much of this hormone in your bloodstream, it causes your metabolism to accelerate. This leads to weight loss, but it also increases your heart rate and/or causes it to be irregular. This condition is also known as an "overactive thyroid."
Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough of the thyroid hormones. It slows your metabolism down and doesn't allow your body to create enough energy. It is also known as an "underactive thyroid."
This is also known as "testosterone deficiency."
What Are the Testosterone Changes That Occur Over the Years?
Testosterone doesn't just change when your levels begin to slowly decrease; it changes throughout your entire life. Before a male baby is born, a greater amount of testosterone is needed to encourage the baby's male organs to grow. After this is complete, testosterone levels drop too low levels and remain that way until you reach puberty.
During puberty, more testosterone is necessary to complete the process of turning a boy into an adult male. When testosterone levels rise at this time, a boy begins to gain muscle mass, and an increased amount of hair appears on his body. His voice starts to get deeper, and he begins to mature sexually. At the age of 17, testosterone levels have reached their peak, and they remain high until it is time for them to begin decreasing at the age of 40.
Why Does It Matter?
It matters when a man has a hormonal imbalance because the lack of testosterone causes unpleasant symptoms for men. As was mentioned above, men do not necessarily notice anything different when their testosterone levels begin to fall at age 40, but they may start to become aware of the difference after they reach the age of 50.
What’s Considered a Normal Testosterone Level?
The normal range for testosterone levels is approximately 300 ng/dL to 1,000 ng/dL. Your physician will determine whether your levels fall within this range by performing a serum testosterone test.
How is Low Testosterone Diagnosed
If your numbers are lower than 300 ng/dL, you may receive a diagnosis of "hypogonadism." This is the term that is used to describe the time when the body isn't producing enough testosterone.
What Are the Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance?
In the beginning, a man may notice the following symptoms of hypogonadism:
- Lower energy levels
- A lower sex drive
- The risk of developing anemia
- A reduced testicular size
- Diminished mental cognition
- Weight gain
- Less semen
What Are the Dangers of not Treating Hormone Imbalances?
The following may occur if hypogonadism is not treated:
Bone density decreases and causes the bones to be porous and brittle. When this occurs, bones can easily be broken. Many people believed that this was a condition that only older women got, but approximately 2 million men have been diagnosed with this condition as well.
A condition that causes a man's breasts to become overdeveloped.
Decreased muscle mass
Testosterone was the reason that you gained muscle mass during puberty, but if you fail to have your hormonal imbalance treated, it causes you to lose muscle mass.
Less body hair
Testosterone was also the reason that hair began to grow on your chest, so less testosterone contributes to the reason that there isn't as much hair on an older man's chest. Boys begin to shave because of the testosterone that is running through their veins, but it causes less facial hair to grow when a hormonal imbalance isn't being treated.
This is when a male isn't producing enough sperm. The most common reason that men have for not being able to impregnate their partners is because of a low sperm count. A sperm count in the normal range will be between 40 million and 150 million, but if the sperm count is below 20 million, this will be considered to be a low sperm count.
This is when a man has difficulties achieving and then maintaining his erection long enough to complete a sexual act.
Several studies have shown that men have an increased chance of coronary artery disease and stroke when hypogonadism is left untreated. They may even have a higher risk of dying than men without the condition.
How Are Hormone Imbalances Treated?
In most cases, hypogonadism is treated with testosterone replacement therapy. TRT returns a man's testosterone levels to the normal range. When this has been accomplished, men begin to notice that their symptoms are starting to disappear, and they start to feel better.
You may be offered several options for replacing your testosterone, including:
Hormone injections, especially for treating low testosterone, is the most effective means of hormone therapy available. Because the hormones are injected directly into the bloodstream, they become almost instantly available to the body for use throughout.
Pellet therapy uses tiny capsules that contain testosterone for men which can be surgically implanted under your skin. The testosterone is then slowly released over time, alleviating the need for regular visits. With pellet hormone therapy, you will need to have these capsules or pellets replaced every three to six months.
For some patients, a nasal gel containing the desired hormone is injected into the nose where it can be absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream. This option requires application on a much more frequent basis and must be delivered to each nostril twice with every application, typically two to three times a day.
Like many other sublingual, gum-and-cheek testosterone is a substance that you place in your mouth above your top teeth. It remains in place on your gums and allows testosterone to be absorbed throughout the day. You will need to apply this substance three times a day, but is not often prescribed because it can cause irritation in some patients.
Much like nicotine patches, patients can opt for testosterone patches that are applied to their thighs or their torso before you go to bed each night. Like the Guam-and-cheek delivery method, This form of hormone delivery has been known to have side effects like irritation at the application site.
For some patients, the use of gels in place of other hormone strategies is preferred. For this type of therapy, a patient would need to apply this gel directly to your skin, refraining from bathing or swimming for several hours while the testosterone is being absorbed into your bloodstream. Like the previously mentioned applications, this can cause irritation for some users at the application site.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Although rare on medically supervised hormone therapy, testosterone replacement and other hormone therapy can have several side effects, including the following:
- The possibility of an increased risk of stroke or heart attack
- An increase in aggression
- Mood swings
- The diminished size of the testicles
- Sleep apnea that gets worse
- The increase in the risk of blood clots
- The increase in the risk of prostate abnormalities
- Feeling the need to urinate more often but releasing less urine
- Slight edema
- Oily skin/acne
TRT may also cause changes in your blood. For example, you may experience the following:
- The possibility of an increased PSA. PSA is a "prostate-specific antigen" in your bloodstream. The PSA is a protein, and it is produced by cancerous tissue within the prostate. Noncancerous tissue will also produce this protein.
- The reduction of sperm resulting in a lowered sperm count.
- An increased red blood cell count.
- Differences in your cholesterol levels. Lipids are fats, oils, and waxes, and their amounts also change when someone is taking hormone replacement therapy.
Is It Safe?
If a man is found to have low testosterone levels and is also experiencing symptoms, his physician may prescribe testosterone replacement therapy. As part of a comprehensive wellness program under direct medical supervision, the occurrence of adverse effects is very low.
Some men may experience an increased risk of cardiovascular disease if used improperly or without medical supervision and guidance over time. That said, most prescribing physicians agree that the use of hormone therapy for the treatment of conditions like low testosterone can be dramatically improved with the use of HRT or TRT.
What Are the Benefits of Hormone Therapy?
Hormone therapy increases your testosterone levels, and this reduces the symptoms described above. For example, older men may have an increased risk of stroke or heart attack. Men on testosterone replacement therapy were found in an extensive study to have a 24% decrease in the risk of having a heart attack. In addition to that, their increased risk of having a stroke also decreased by 36%.
Hormone therapy benefits also include the loss of body fat as men also gain lean muscle mass. When men combine this therapy with weight training, they also increase their strength. TRT therapy also increases a man's bone density that decreases his risk of fractured bones and osteoporosis. Testosterone therapy also improves a man's sexual performance.
Physicians discovered that one of the best ways to treat depression is to place patients on hormone replacement therapy. When they do this, these men have an increased sense of well being, and their moods also improve.
How Long Will It Be Until I See the Results?
Ahmer Farooq, assistant professor of urology at Loyola University Medical Center, stated that typically “men start to see the results of testosterone therapy within three to six months.” You have to keep in mind that TRT is not a quick fix. It helps men feel better gradually, hormone therapy and TRT won’t make you feel suddenly better, though it is not uncommon for men on testosterone to begin feeling the positive benefits of therapy in as little as four to six weeks after beginning treatment.
According to the European Journal of Endocrinology, you can expect to see an improvement in depression in about three weeks. It also takes that long for your libido to improve.
Physicians prescribe TRT as a long-term remedy for their patients because when they stop taking testosterone supplements, their testosterone levels fall back to the levels where they were before the therapy started. To keep their levels up and prevent the symptoms from returning, it is necessary that men remain on TRT therapy as long as they wish to enjoy the results.
How Do You Get Help for a Hormonal Imbalance?
Getting help for a hormonal imbalance is easy. All you need to do is call us at 305-682-1818. Our dedicated team of Wellness Advisors, Concierges, and medical professionals are available both in-person and online and with patient-first policies, we make every effort to make sure that your experience healing is unparalleled. Call today!
- Human Sexuality in a World of Diversity by Spencer A. Rathus, Jeffrey S. Nevid and Lois Fichner-Rathus.
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