If you’ve been anywhere near a podcast lately, associate with the health and wellness community, or exist in any continuum of the man-o-sphere, you’ve probably heard all about testosterone replacement therapy, or TRT.
Now, like (almost) every new trend in the fitness, nutrition, wellness, anti-aging, or supplement industries, there is a continuous tug-of-war between supporters and detractors, clinical research and pseudo science, as well as exclamations of its miraculous effects or lack thereof. So to settle the debate (or maybe add to it, we’ll see how this goes), we’re going to dive in and talk about the pros and cons of TRT, its risks and benefits, and the most recent data available on the subject.
So will testosterone replacement therapy stand the test of time? Or are its days out of time? Keep reading and find out!
What Is TRT?
Testosterone replacement therapy, also known as androgen replacement therapy, is used to treat low testosterone levels in men, which tend to drop as the aging process continues. The average man’s T-level typically reduces by 1 – 2% each year, starting in the late 20s or early 30s. There are various underlying causes of low testosterone levels, such as chemotherapy, pituitary gland disease, congenital hypogonadism, and others. But for the purpose of our discussion, we’re going to reference men without these conditions who are considering increasing their testosterone levels.
What Does Low Testosterone Look Like?
You may be wondering if you are currently experiencing low testosterone. Well first and foremost, know that a simple blood test will give you the answer you’re looking for. But on average, the symptoms of low testosterone include:
- Lower than usual sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of muscle density
- Reduced bone density
- Unexplained weight gain
- Body hair loss
- Decreased motivation
- Irritability and anxiety
- Memory issues
Now, we want to curb any quick-fix conclusions you may be having. Many people struggle with poor sleep, depression, and/or weight gain — even sexual issues — due to poor lifestyle choices. So we want to make sure you really assess your daily behaviors: if you’re staying up till 4 am watching Succession and binging on burritos…don’t be trying to blame your T-levels for not feeling like your best self!
The Benefits of TRT
When looking at the benefits of testosterone replacement therapy, there are two sources of data — the proven, researched, and peer-reviewed scientific kind; and the anecdotal, possibly exaggerated, potentially placebo-induced variety. Yes, we’re sure you suspect the skepticism dripping off our point of view. But there are two considerations you’d be wise to hold on to: 1) As this is a relatively new phenomenon, there hasn’t been decades of research (which often comes with exhaustively high standards), and 2) You cannot discount the experiences of others simply because they haven’t been tested in double-blind experiments.
So first, we’ll go with the benefits that’ve been claimed by devotees and companies fully invested in TRT, which include: easier weight loss, boosted energy, amped up libido, higher endurance, and a higher retention of muscle mass when strength training.
On the proven-data side, it’s been shown that libido and sexual performance are definitely improved; elevated mood and reduced fatigue have also been observed, as well as increased bone density and muscle mass. But with all this data, researchers describe results as “conflicting,” which may point to TRT being effective for some men and not for others, or simply that not enough research has been performed.
But the bird’s eye view of all this is that there are definitely benefits of taking TRT, although exact findings are limited.
Risks of TRT
Like the benefits of TRT, some of the risks associated with testosterone replacement therapy are also not entirely known. But here are the biggies:
This occurs when the female hormone of estrogen is elevated, due to improper testosterone therapy. Symptoms of oestrogen include gynaecomastia (enlarged breast tissue), fatigue, water retention, mood swings, anxiety, and acne.
Big grain of salt on this one. Some research has shown that TRT may lead to increased red blood cell production, which could lead to a condition known as erythrocytosis, with potential heart attack risk. But this is hotly debated even within the scientific community, with several other studies demonstrating otherwise.
One widely accepted risk of TRT is the onset of fertility issues. As with many supplements out there (like melatonin), the more we take a particular chemical or nutrient, the less our body produces it naturally. So with a steady testosterone replacement program, know that your sperm count and ability to reproduce drops drastically.
The Bottom Line: Is TRT Safe?
If you’re asking us what our opinion of testosterone replacement therapy is (which you most likely are, considering your interest in this topic), we’d have to say…it depends. Let’s expand:
If you’re young, virile, healthy, and are looking for an all-around man-boost, TRT just isn’t worth the risk. Plus, if you’re looking to have kids someday, why take your chance with affecting your later familial success? If you’re older, already have kids, and beginning to show signs of decreasing test levels, it may be worth it. Your next step should be talking with your doctor to get their opinion, and starting off slowly.
But there is one more thing, a crucially important point. And that is, you can increase your testosterone levels NATURALLY!!! How? Through good old-fashioned strength training! It’s true. A solid and professionally programmed muscle-building routine can be one of the most effective ways to boost your testosterone, as well as your longevity, without any of those pesky drawbacks.
And the best way to do that is with a 7-Day Free Trial of Studio SWEAT onDemand! We offer one of the largest libraries of Online Strength Training Workouts out there, and they’re all taught by the most passionate trainers in the business. Plus, our classes feature REAL PEOPLE, getting REAL RESULTS! Sign up now, and let’s man (and woman) up!