Testosterone is an important steroid hormone that regulates a number of biological functions. A deficiency of this hormone can cause some serious disorders, which may necessitate the use of testosterone replacement therapy. Find out some important facts about this therapy, in this HealthHearty article.
Testosterone is a steroid hormone that belongs to the group of androgen hormones. It is commonly known as the male sex hormone, and is mainly produced by the testes. However, a small amount of testosterone is also found in women, as this hormone is produced by the ovaries in small amounts.
The main function of this hormone is to ensure the proper development of male reproductive organs, and the secondary male characteristics, like deepening of voice, and the growth of beard and body hair. It also plays a significant role in the conversion of food into energy, and so, the normal rate of growth and development depends on this hormone. This hormone plays an important role in protein synthesis, and affects muscle mass and bone density as well.
A deficiency of this hormone can have serious consequences, like the underdevelopment of reproductive organs and lack of virilization, which can result from a pre-pubertal deficiency. On the other hand, a deficiency of this hormone after puberty can impair masculinization, reduce libido, and the growth of facial and body hair.
It can also lead to infertility, and cause mood disorders like depression, and fatigue and osteoporosis. A deficiency of testosterone can be caused by an injury or infection of the testes, a malfunctioning pituitary gland, and a damaged hypothalamus. However, the level of this hormone also decreases with age, usually after 50 years. In addition to these, people undergoing cancer treatment like chemotherapy and radiation therapy may experience a reduction in the level of testosterone.
Facts About Testosterone Replacement Therapy
A significantly low level of testosterone in the body may require treatment. This hormone can be administered either in the form of tablets, injections, or through transdermal systems. Tablets can be taken orally, while injections are administered into the muscle tissues.
On the other hand, the transdermal system involves the use of skin patches and ointments or gels. Testosterone patches can be worn on the scrotum, abdomen, the back, buttocks, or on the arms, while the gels or ointments can be applied on shoulders, abdomen, or upper arms.
All these methods of administering testosterone can be effective in alleviating the problems and symptoms associated with the deficiency of this hormone. So, this therapy can significantly increase mental and physical energy, libido, and muscle strength, and reduce anger, depression, irritability, tiredness, nervousness, and body fat.
However, before recommending it, physicians usually evaluate the medical history of the individual and perform certain physical tests. Physicians usually try to find out if any kind of abnormality was present at birth, as well as the rate and extent of virilization or masculinization at the time of puberty, and the status of secondary male characteristics. A hormone screening is also performed to determine the level of testosterone in blood.
The level of serum prolactin is also examined, as a high level of this hormone may indicate that the pituitary gland is not functioning properly. Apart from these, the level of serum LH or luteinizing hormone is tested, as it helps distinguish a failure of the testes to produce sufficient amounts of testosterone from a deficiency resulting from the abnormality of the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland.
There can be several side effects that can be associated with this therapy, such as acne and oily skin, excessive growth of body hair, loss of scalp hair, and worsening of sleep apnea. It can also inhibit the endogenous production of testosterone. Sometimes, this therapy is recommended for women, especially to treat some postmenopausal symptoms, like reduction in libido. But this therapy can produce some serious side effects, like fluid retention, excessive growth of body hair, enlargement of the clitoris, and masculinization.
On the other hand, the use of skin patches can cause skin irritation. The long-term use of testosterone replacement therapy can cause significant damage to the liver. It is also not suitable for people with prostate cancer, as this treatment can worsen the disease by stimulating the growth of cancerous cells.
Therefore, one should opt for this therapy only under the supervision of a physician. The physician usually monitor the level of testosterone in the individuals undergoing this treatment at regular intervals, in order to prevent the complications associated with this therapy.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.