Androgen therapy or testosterone replacement therapy is a popular solution for people with low testosterone production.
Androgen or androgenic hormones are best known for male sexual characteristics and include hormones such as testosterone, androstenedione, and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S).
Androgens have potent side effects on body weight and composition.
One of the primary actions of androgens is to increase muscle and decrease fat.
Androgens are important because they have a powerful effect on the brain. Androgens influence mood, sexual desire, energy level, and desire to exercise.
The adrenal glands produce about 50 percent of androgen production in women. Adrenal gland production of androgens is relatively less important in men.
The challenge of measuring androgens is very difficult. Tests for androgen levels can be variable and inaccurate for many reasons.
Testosterone is one of the most difficult hormones to measure. Most tests are fairly good at measuring normal or high testosterone levels. The biggest challenge is measuring low levels of testosterone.
Testosterone lab tests have a high degree of variability.
Androgen lab tests are notorious for being imperfect. Endocrinologists usually try to minimize this problem by sending all hormone tests to a single lab.
Testosterone is secreted in cyclic patterns. Testosterone usually peaks early in the morning. Such things as diet, sun exposure and activity level will affect testosterone production.
What are normal testosterone levels?
Testosterone experts still debate what normal levels are. Some labs report normal values according to your age. More research is still needed to determine normal levels.
The goal of testosterone therapy is to relieve symptoms of hypogonadism and bring testosterone levels into the normal range.
Testosterone enanthate and testosterone cypionate are the two most common types of injectable testosterone. These two types of therapy are deep muscle injections that are long acting medications. The testosterone is dissolved in oil and given every one to four weeks.
Androgel has become the most popular prescribed type of androgen therapy or TRT. Androgel is an alcohol-based gel that's one percent testosterone. The gel is applied to the upper arms, abdomen, or shoulders every morning and dries quickly.
If you use testosterone gel, you must be careful not to let wet gel touch the skin of anyone. Once the gel is dry, contact with other people is safe.
Testim uses a compound known as pentadecalactone as a base for the gel. Pentadecalactone is very good at penetrating the skin, getting more testosterone into the bloodstream. Testim has a peculiar odor and is sticky and can feel uncomfortable on the skin.
Striant is a testosterone tablet that's not swallowed but placed between the cheek and gum. The tablet is placed on the upper gum, where it gradually softens into a waxy glob that conforms to the shape of the gum.
Striant is a popular choice for obese men, who frequently have problems with the gel penetrating the skin. Studies have reported that lower levels of DHT is associated with Striant. DHT is a testosterone by-product that contributes to prostate enlargement and hair loss.
Testosterone skin patches
Transdermal testosterone patches come in two varieties. Testoderm is applied to the scrotum. Androderm is applied to the upper arms, abdomen, or back.
Skin patches are an effective but not a popular form of TRT. The patches can be an inconvenience, forming rashes or blisters, irritating skin, or falling off during exercise.
Some doctors prescribe their own formulations of testosterone cream prepared by an experienced compounding pharmacist.
New delivery systems for androgen therapy are always being formulated.
A nasal spray formulation looks promising.
Synthetic versions of testosterone-like hormones are being developed that may have advantages over traditional TRT.
Hypogonadism symptoms include weight gain, fatigue, decreased quality of life and depression. The most common symptoms are sexual in nature. Decreased sex drive and erectile dysfunction...
Causes of hypogonadism include the reduction of testosterone levels due to aging, trauma or injury to testicles, and urological problems. Other conditions that contribute to hypogonadism include obesity, diabetes...
Treatment of hypogonadism may involve male hormone replacement. If caused by testicular failure, doctors will likely use testosterone replacement therapy...
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