After reaching a certain age, such as their 40s, many men begin to complain about a drop in energy levels, making one feel more tired than before. Some may first experience lower confidence and motivation, leading to depression, lack of concentration and most worrying of all, an increase in body fat and decrease in muscle mass and therefore, strength. This is due to testosterone, the hormone that is responsible for the development of secondary male characteristics such as the broad shoulders and facial hairs you see on a typical male.
Testosterone also helps improve mood, facilitate a lean yet muscular physique, stronger bones, etc. After your 30s to 40s, this hormone drops by about 1% every year. To combat this, in the US, millions of men undergo a therapy called androgen or testosterone replacement therapy (AKA TRT therapy). This therapy aims to restore their normal levels of testosterone, with it being marketed as a way for men to stay more energetic and mentally youthful as well as sexually functional. Usually taken via pills or injection, the treatment might sound simple and reassuring. However, it is crucial that you know what you are putting your body through before considering TRT therapy.
According to Harvard Medical School, possible immediate side effects include acne, higher red blood cell concentration, increasing the risk of blood clotting, and disturbed breathing whilst sleeping. On the more long-term effects, heart disease and heart attacks seem to be more prevalent in men undergoing TRT therapy, especially in those who are older. There is also literature that suggests the association with urinary tract symptoms, benign prostatic hyperplasia and obstructive sleep apnea, monitoring of PSA levels may be required if patient is on TRT.
The bottom line is that there is little to no evidence that supports TRT therapy being a viable and healthy treatment for normal ageing men. In fact, the negative consequences outweigh the benefits. Despite the misleading marketing done by pharmaceutical companies—advertising the idea that testosterone will boost your quality of life—there are safer ways to increase testosterone levels. Regular exercise and weight lifting is a popular, proven method. Activities such as walking out in the sun, not only allows the intake of vitamin D, which also boosts testosterone, a short walk can reduce cortisol levels—the stress hormone which inhibits testosterone production. A good night's rest is also a surefire way to increase testosterone, so ensure to keep a consistent sleep routine.
It is important to consult a professional doctor before making a decision. Take a blood test if you are worried your testosterone levels are too low.
Article by Jaren K. Y.
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