The goal of testosterone replacement therapy is to increase the blood level of testosterone to the normal range. Several therapies are available with different delivery methods.Testosterone injections are either self-administered or given by a physician at regular intervals, usually every two weeks. Testosterone levels peak about three days after the injection and slowly decline over time. These fluctuations in testosterone levels may be decreased by shortening the time interval between injections.
Testosterone gels are another delivery method. The gel is applied once daily to the upper arms, shoulders or abdomen. The quick drying formula is absorbed by the skin, releasing testosterone into the bloodstream. Men should avoid contact with others until the gel has dried which is usually 10 minutes, and be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after application with soap and water.
The newest testosterone replacement is with pellets, which are inserted under the skin usually in the area of the buttocks. The pellets last 4-6 months and avoid the necessity of daily application of the gels or the biweekly injections.
Testosterone replacement therapy may provide dramatic health benefits for men with decreased hormone levels and symptoms of testosterone deficiency. The potential benefits include increased energy level, increased lean body mass and muscle strength, decreased total body fat, improvement in sex drive and erectile function, and increased bone mineral density which may lead to reduced risk of fracture of the hips and spine.
Bottom Line: Testosterone deficiency is very common in middle age and older men and produces symptoms which impact a man’s health and quality of life. The diagnosis is confirmed with a simple blood test. With proper monitoring, testosterone therapy can be an effective and safe form of treatment.
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