The market for Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) is expected to reach almost $4 billion by 2022. The number of men prescribed TRT has more than tripled since 2001, and continues to grow exponentially.
So is TRT Safe? Does it work? In this post, we’ll explore:
- What the most current research says about the risks and benefits of TRT
- Common symptoms, and causes of low testosterone
- My personal experience with TRT
Note: This article contains affiliate links to products that come at no additional cost to you.
Symptoms of Low Testosterone
Men with low Testosterone may experience one or several of the following symptoms:
- Decreased sex drive (impotence)
- Low energy/fatigue
- Loss of muscle mass
- Weight gain (not the good kind)
- Depression and/or anxiety
Of course, the only way to know for sure if you have low testosterone is to get blood work done and to consult with a doctor. The symptoms above can have other causes and are not meant for self-diagnosis.
What Causes Low T?
Low Testosterone can be caused by many different factors, often working collectively to sabotage your hormone levels. Low T can be caused by:
- Age: Testosterone levels naturally decrease with age starting around 30
- Stress: Stress, and our inability to manage it, can have a profound impact on our hormone levels. Both physical and psychological stress can wreak havoc on your body’s hormones.
- Weight gain: Gaining excess weight (fat) can hurt testosterone levels. Ironically, Testosterone can help improve body composition.
- Disease: In some men, the testes may stop producing Testosterone or produce only a small amount. This is referred to as being hypogonadal. Hypogonadal men are the primary beneficiaries of TRT.
Current Research on TRT
Looking through research on TRT, you can be left with more questions than answers. There’s a lot of conflicting information that doesn’t seem to point in any clear direction to what the actual risks are of using testosterone replacement therapy.
After looking at many recent studies (and actually reading them), I’ve come to some conclusions.
TRT Does Not Increase Prostate Cancer Risk
One study from the American Journal of Epidemiology, involving over 12,000 men during a 20 year time-span, found that testosterone replacement therapy was not associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer.
Several other credible studies, evaluating all known data, have reached the same conclusion. It does not appear that TRT causes an increased risk for prostate cancer.
TRT and Cardiovascular Risks
Many have falsely claimed that TRT increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. In reality, there simply is no compelling evidence that this is true.
One review of the existing evidence by World Journal of Men’s Health demonstrated this fact. The review shows that no clear evidence currently exists that using Testosterone Replacement Therapy will put you at an increased risk of negative cardiovascular events.
TRT is Not “Going on Steroids”
Being on TRT is not the same thing as “being on steroids.” When someone goes on a cycle of steroids, they’re putting supraphysiological levels of testosterone in their body. This can be 5-10 times the normal amount, or more.
Obviously, the side effects from taking that large of a dose can be seriously amplified, and do not correlate with the effects or properly managed TRT.
The goal of Testosterone Replacement Therapy is to get your testosterone levels to be optimal. If low testosterone is causing negative symptoms and health consequences, getting your levels back to a normal range can make a huge difference in many areas of life.
Check out: How to Get Bigger Arms with BFR Bands
The Other Side of the TRT Coin
Even for those who claim that TRT can be detrimental to health, there are other factors they do not take into consideration:
- Low Testosterone has been linked with greater risk for heart disease and other negative health outcomes.
- Using TRT can help lose weight, gain muscle and become more active, all resulting in a decreased risk for cardiovascular (and many other) diseases.
- TRT can improve quality of life and relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Basically, for those who benefit from TRT, the improvements can lead to physical and mental changes that reduce their risk of disease and mortality.
My Experience With TRT
I was 36 years old when I decided to go on TRT. Like it should be for anyone, it was a personal decision I reached after looking at all of the pros and cons.
I’ve been active my whole life, in the gym 5-6 days a week on top of an already busy lifestyle. I knew without a doubt that some things had changed over the past 5 years or so:
- My energy was lower and I was tired more often
- It was taking longer to recover from workouts
- My body composition had changed, especially in my midsection. I wasn’t fat, but I noticed it was much harder to get rid of.
I went to a local T-Clinic and was tested. My levels were just under 400ng/dl. I made the decision to go on TRT for a couple very simple reasons:
- After reviewing the research, I believe it is both safe and healthy
- I am not willing to compromise my lifestyle or my performance. It is who I am, and TRT has helped me immensely.
My Results on TRT
After 2 years on TRT, I can say the following:
- I’ve put muscle on, and I wasn’t out of shape before I started TRT. It has definitely helped me build muscle and keep it on.
- I’ve gotten stronger
- Improved sex drive
- Overall I feel an improved sense of well-being and energy throughout the day.
- I’ve gotten no acne, hair loss or other scary side effects commonly discussed with testosterone.
- My blood pressure has gone up. Nothing too serious, but it has gone up slightly compared to where it has always been, possibly due to gaining size over the past 2 years (225lbs to 243lbs).
- No improvements in sleep quality.. I’ve had a bit of insomnia for most of my adult life. It comes and goes, but TRT has not had any effect on my sleep.
- Water retention: I do get some water retention, which is likely due to increased estrogen. It can be tricky to manage, and you need to get labs done periodically to make sure everything is good.
- Cost: If your T levels are low enough (under 300ng/dl), you may be able to have your insurance cover the cost. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay anywhere from $99 to $300/month, depending on where you go and what kind of environment you’re looking for.
Overall, my experience with TRT has been overwhelmingly positive. I got out of it what I was looking for, and I did my homework before I started.
The current research does not indicate that TRT will lead to prostate cancer or cardiovascular disease. More research is needed to understand the long term effects of staying on Testosterone Therapy.
As each person is a unique case, you should always discuss your options with a qualified doctor, either at a clinic or with your primary care physician.
Remember.. Being on TRT is not the same thing as “taking steroids.” You’re simply trying to optimize your hormone levels so you can be the best version of yourself.
Questions or comments about TRT or anything else? Leave a comment or email me directly. As always, I hope this helps you in some small way to get a little closer to that best version of YOU.