Have you ever felt like you were running on empty, lacking the energy and drive you once had? Maybe you’re not recovering from workouts as quickly as you used to or experiencing a decreased libido.
If so, you may be among millions of men with low testosterone levels. Research shows that 1 in 4 men over ages 30 and above have low testosterone, which accounts for more than 13 million men in the US.
Testosterone is a hormone with a crucial role in a man’s overall health and well-being. It regulates muscle mass, bone density, mood, and sex drive. As men age, testosterone levels naturally decline, which can lead to a range of symptoms that impact their quality of life.
But the good news is that several types of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) are available to help increase testosterone levels and alleviate these symptoms. This article examines the different types of testosterone replacement therapy, how they work, and their potential benefits and drawbacks. So if you’re considering TRT, keep reading to make an informed decision.
Injectable testosterone is a type of TRT involving injecting small testosterone directly into the muscle tissue. It’s the most common form of TRT administered at a doctor’s office or clinic.
Injectable testosterone is available in different esters, including testosterone enanthate, cypionate, and propionate. The type of ester used will determine the duration of the testosterone’s effect.
One of the benefits of injectable testosterone is its quick and effective absorption rate. The testosterone enters the bloodstream immediately, providing fast and noticeable results. Injectable testosterone is also easy to adjust the dosage and monitor testosterone levels.
There are also some drawbacks to injectable testosterone. The injection process can be painful, and there’s a risk of infection or scarring at the site. Injectable testosterone may also suppress natural testosterone production and cause adverse effects such as acne, hair loss, and gynecomastia (breast enlargement in men).
Testosterone patches are transdermal patches that release a low and consistent dose of testosterone through the skin into the bloodstream. Androderm and Testoderm are the two types of testosterone patches available. Both must be applied daily, and you should rotate the site to prevent skin irritation.
One benefit of testosterone patches is the ease of use. The patches are easy to apply and are discreet, making them a good option for men who want a hassle-free form of TRT. Testosterone patches also eliminate the risk of infection and scarring associated with injectable testosterone.
On the other hand, testosterone patches have a slower absorption rate, so it may take longer for the effects to appear. They can also irritate the skin, causing redness, itching, or rash. Additionally, the patches are unsuitable for men with a lot of body hair or excessive sweat.
Transdermal testosterone involves applying testosterone gel, cream, or patch directly to the skin. The testosterone is absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream, allowing it to reach target tissues and organs. This method is popular because it’s relatively easy to use and does not require injections.
One benefit of transdermal testosterone is that it allows for precise dosing. The amount of testosterone absorbed is easy to adjust based on your needs and response to therapy. This personalization can help minimize side effects and maximize benefits.
However, one drawback of transdermal testosterone is that it can be messy and time-consuming to apply. Patients must be careful not to transfer the testosterone to other people, particularly women and children who may be more sensitive to the hormone. Additionally, some patients may experience skin irritation or rash at the application site.
Testosterone pellets are small, rice-sized pellets that contain testosterone. They are inserted under the skin, typically in the buttocks, where they slowly release testosterone over several months. This method is popular because it requires infrequent dosing preventing the need for daily applications or injections.
Another benefit of testosterone pellets is that they provide a steady and consistent dose of testosterone. It can help minimize fluctuations in testosterone levels and reduce side effects. Additionally, the pellets may be more convenient for some patients because they do not require daily applications or injections.
However, one drawback of testosterone pellets is that the insertion procedure can be painful and carries risks of infection, bleeding, or expulsion. But, this is quite rare and only affects about 0.3% to 0.4% of cases. Also, once the pellets are inserted, they cannot be removed or adjusted, meaning patients must wait for them to dissolve before changing doses.
Oral testosterone is taken in pill form and is absorbed through the digestive system. The most common types of oral testosterone are methyltestosterone and testosterone undecanoate. Methyltestosterone is the synthetic form of testosterone, while undecanoate is a natural form of testosterone modified to be oral, with an extended-release mechanism.
Oral testosterone is often used to treat hypogonadism, a medical condition where the body does not produce enough testosterone. However, it can also cause liver toxicity, lipid imbalances, and decreased good cholesterol levels.
Oral testosterone also has a first-pass effect, meaning the liver metabolizes it before it reaches the systemic circulation, leading to lower bioavailability than other delivery methods.
Sublingual or buccally administered testosterone is absorbed through the mucous membranes under the tongue. The two most common types of sublingual testosterone are testosterone sublingual tablets and testosterone spray.
Sublingual testosterone is often preferred by patients who cannot use other delivery methods, such as skin patches or injections, because of skin sensitivity or needle phobia. Sublingual testosterone also has a faster onset of action than oral testosterone, bypassing the liver’s first-pass metabolism and resulting in higher bioavailability.
Moreover, sublingual testosterone has fewer side effects, such as liver toxicity or lipid imbalances, since it bypasses oral ingestion.
How to Choose the Most Suitable Type of Therapy
Consider a few critical factors before choosing testosterone replacement therapy. Think about your lifestyle and how you prefer to receive the treatment. For instance, do you prefer a patch, gel, injection, or pellet?
Consider any possible side effects associated with each type of therapy, plus their cost and convenience.
Of course, the best way to determine which type of testosterone therapy is right for you is to consult a healthcare professional who can help you understand the pros and risks of each option based on your unique medical history and lifestyle.
These are the different types of testosterone replacement therapy for those who suffer from low testosterone levels. From injections to skin patches, each method has its benefits and drawbacks.
Consult a medical professional to determine the best course of treatment for your individual needs. If you’ve been considering testosterone therapy and need professional guidance, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today!