We’ve all made jokes about someone having “too much testosterone,” usually associating it with a marked machismo in a man. But the opposite, having too little testosterone, is certainly not a joke. The hormone is widely known to fuel the male sex drive and contribute to muscle mass, but that’s not all it can affect. While a slow decrease in the hormone level is normal as men age, doctors can prescribe testosterone replacement therapy for a variety of reasons.
Testosterone Linked to Many Conditions
Testosterone also plays a role in regulating mood and bone strength and is linked to depression, weight gain, fatigue, loss of hair and even diabetes. Depending on your needs, regular injections of the hormone is a great way to help you feel more like your old self. Along with injections, there are a few different methods of delivering testosterone, noted below, along with some pros and cons of each:
- Skin patch: Much like the nicotine patch, this transdermal method delivers a specific dose of testosterone through the skin and into the bloodstream. Patches are worn throughout the day on the upper body and are known to irritate the skin.
- Gels and creams: Testosterone replacement is provided in individual dose packets, and is also available in pumps. Gels and creams are rubbed on the skin, usually the stomach, once or twice a day. One brand is offered as a nose gel. Creams and gels are spotty treatments because different people absorb them at different rates, and only rarely is the full dose absorbed.
- Mouth patch: This is actually a tablet that adheres to the gums above the incisor. Because it remains in place throughout the day, it acts as a patch. Used twice a day, it is absorbed through oral tissues and releases testosterone continuously into the blood stream. The mouth patch is worn only in a limited area and can irritate gums and cause tenderness and pain.
- Injections: Testosterone replacement in this form can be injected directly into muscle tissue to be absorbed slowly into the bloodstream over a period of several days. Because it is injected into the body, the full dose is usually absorbed.
Which Method Works Best
Creams and gels may not be the most efficient means of applying the hormone because absorption rates differ from patient to patient; doctors consider 80 percent absorption good. Creams and gels must be applied daily or twice daily, depending on your needs, and they carry the risk of being absorbed by a partner. Pills are also available, however, some believe this type of delivery adversely affects the liver.
Injections of testosterone replacement may be preferred by those seeking the energy and drive to increase their physical abilities, not just sex drive but also enhancing workouts, body building and physical activities in general, such as bike riding, hiking, jogging, etc. Injections can be given weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly, allowing you to live your life without the hassle of daily applications. If you are experiencing symptoms of having low testosterone, consult your doctor about the best treatment for your specific needs.