Are There Any Testosterone Replacement Therapy Side Effects?
Testosterone is a hormone secreted endogenously, which performs crucial functions in the physiological development of the human body. Testosterone is responsible for causing muscle build-up, calcium retention (leading to increased bone densities), hair growth stimulation, sex drive, and many other important processes.
Testosterone levels in human beings decline over time. This process is known as andropause. The process of andropause is predominantly characterized by the condition of hypogonadism. Hypogonadism is defined as a disorder where testosterone levels in a patient are below the lower limit for an adult of the patient’s age.
While in the past, andropause was considered as a normal process of male aging, nowadays testosterone replacement therapy can be administered to curb or slow its effects. This therapy involves the exogenous inducement of the testosterone hormone through injections, gels, patches, or oral supplements. Testosterone therapy is said to be most effective when administered through injections.
What does testosterone replacement therapy do?
This therapy has gained in popularity over the years due to its success in slowing the male aging process and improving physiological well-being. While the treatment can have differing degrees of effect on patients, it is generally known to boost calcium retention and increase bone strength. The treatment also induces the build-up of lean muscle and causes the breakdown of fatty tissue.
Testosterone therapy has also been known to have positive effects on the mental well-being of patients. Patients have remarked at how they have higher energy levels, suffer from lesser mood swings, and generally experience positive dispositions. One of the most common effects of the treatment is increased erectile function and sex drive.
What are the side effects of testosterone replacement therapy?
There is still much research being conducted into the side effects of the testosterone replacement treatments. It is hugely important for medical professionals to conduct thorough mental and physiological examinations of patients before prescribing or administering the treatment. Careful monitoring of the treatment’s effects on the body must also be undertaken. Patients have complained of a number of side effects, resultant of testosterone replacement therapy.
- One of the more common side effects is that of fluid retention. The hormone treatment is sometimes known to stimulate fluid build-up in the limbs, causing swelling, increased blood pressure, and increased risk of heart complications. Those patients who experience this must consult their doctors immediately.
- Testosterone, when orally administered, has been known to cause complications to the liver. This is not found to be a common side effect for injection-based testosterone therapy.
- Testosterone replacement may reduce the rate of spermatogenesis. This is a process whereby a male’s testes endogenously produce the hormone. Through exogenous administering of the hormone, the testes may refuse to function, causing impotency. Setting a schedule which involves a tapering off of the hormone, over time, can counter this side effect.
- Testosterone therapy can be known to induce sleep apnea also. Sleep apnea is a condition where patients have difficulty breathing during sleep. These side effects are not confirmed, yet patients suffering from this condition, must report it to their doctors immediately.
- A sudden increase in testosterone levels in older men, as a result of the therapy, can be known to cause breast enlargements. This is because their bodies may begin to convert testosterone into estrogen. A tapering off of the hormone can help avoid this side effect.
- Testosterone replacement treatment induces the production of red blood cells. The treatment leads to the growth of high-mass red blood cells through increased iron absorption and hemoglobin levels. High red blood cell concentrations can increase the risk of cardiovascular complications like heart attacks. Strokes can also occur as a result of clotting.
- Since testosterone, as a hormone, increases cell reproduction, testosterone replacement therapy may cause tumors or unusual cell growth. Prostate growth could translate into difficulties in urination. The risk of prostate cancer, one of the most common forms of cancer found in aging men, is increased.