Since 2000, the number of American men taking testosterone therapy has quadrupled. This is in part because of newer therapies becoming available, but also in part because of increased awareness – more men are asking their doctors about the potential benefits of testosterone therapy.
In our post titled The Game Changing Benefits of Testosterone Replacement Therapy, we discussed some of those benefits including heart health, brain function, lean muscle, dense bone mass, better libido and improved mood. And in another post, How To Balance Your Hormones, we reported that testosterone is one of only five hormones that make up virtually all diagnosed hormone deficiencies. Testosterone is a primary cornerstone of men’s health.
Today, we discuss the safety of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) which is actually related to your overall health and how long you may need testosterone replacement therapy. Testosterone therapy is widely considered safe for long term use in most men who do not have health conditions that preclude safe use of TRT.
The most common side effect of TRT is itching or inflammation near the injection site. However, testosterone therapy has also been known to produce more pronounced side effects in certain cases. Important side effects reported from TRT may include worsened sleep apnea, enlarged prostate, and overactive production of red blood cells (which increases risk of clotting and stroke.) But these symptoms are rare and controllable. So, speaking with a doctor is crucial when considering TRT. Your doctor can help you avoid these conditions:
BENIGN PROSTATIC HYPERTROPHY
For many healthy men, the prostate grows over time, sometimes impinging on the urethra and making urination difficult. For men suffering from an enlarged prostate, your doctor can advise you whether it might be made worse by TRT.
Most doctors have avoided prescribing TRT for patients with a history of prostate cancer because TRT has been known to worsen prostate cancer and related conditions. Once the prostate cancer had been treated and the PSA is zero many physicians will continue testosterone therapy.
Sleep apnea is the tendency to slow or stop breathing during sleep and it can occasionally be worsened by TRT. Your doctor can also order a sleep study to determine your sleeping health while on testosterone.
Blood clotting is a function of red blood cells, which TRT has been known to increase. In the US, testosterone is labeled with an FDA warning about blood clots. Blood clots increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism and are easily prevented under the care of a knowledgeable physician.
TESTOSTERONE THERAPY REDUCES HEART ATTACK AND STROKE
Supplementing testosterone significantly reduces heart attacks and strokes in men with unnaturally low levels of the hormone, according to new research presented at the European Association of Urology last month.
The ten year study involved over 800 men from Germany and Qatar with testosterone deficiency, whose family history, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, diabetes or weight put them at high risk of heart attack and stroke.
Only men with testosterone levels below normal, who displayed symptoms of low testosterone such as low mood, decreased appetite, depression, erectile dysfunction, loss of libido or weight gain, were included in the research.
Just over half of the men opted for long term testosterone replacement therapy, enabling the researcher to compare this group to those whose condition was left untreated. All the men were encouraged to make lifestyle changes, in terms of diet, alcohol, smoking and exercise to improve their cardiovascular health.
Of 412 men on testosterone therapy, 16 died and none suffered a heart attack or stroke. Of the 393 men who chose not to take testosterone supplements, 74 died, 70 had a heart attack and 59 suffered a stroke. Even when discrepancy in age was taken in account – the group taking testosterone was on average five years younger than the other group – these differences remained clear cut. For the men under 55, the risk of heart attack and stroke was reduced by 25 percent; for men over 60, the risk was reduced by 15 percent.
We believe that physicians treating patients with low testosterone, who are at high risk of heart attack or stroke should consider testosterone therapy as one of their treatments!
If you have questions about testosterone replacement therapy or any of the conditions discussed here, connecting with a doctor in a discrete setting has never been easier.
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