Doctor NADS Blogman here for your weekly checkup. Let's talk about the normalization of testosterone replacement therapy amongst young men and the risks associated.
(Disclaimer! We are not doctors, we do not claim to be, and this is NOT medical advice.)
There’s a lot of talk about Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) right now. On one hand, the level of our exposure to environmental chemicals and toxins becomes increasingly understood year by year, and TRT is a proposed method for counteracting those harmful effects. On the other hand, there is a lot of hype around fitness, and in the more-competitive-than-ever dating market, men seek physique advice from both pro and bro bodybuilders, many of which take some form of hormonal pharmaceutical (most commonly TRT).
Here at NADS, we are a bit torn on this issue: we’re all about taking precautionary or counteracting measures to balance the harmful effects of chemical toxins. But, in keeping with our tried-and-true ethos of turning to the natural environment for solutions to unnatural hormonal deficiencies, we won't advocate that every man should opt for another lab-made chemical.
With that said, let’s dig deep into this new type of treatment that may or may not solve the issues men face with hormonal imbalances.
TRT is used to treat hypogonadism, a broad term that means the testes (gonads) are not producing enough T. Hypogonadism can result from a variety of factors, as with most conditions. That being said, T levels already naturally decrease as men age- studies have shown that 1 out of 4 men above the age of 45 suffer from “low” testosterone. So a gradual decrease in T over time is quite natural. But I digress.
Low libido, erectile dysfunction, depression, fatigue, decreased muscle mass, hair loss, and increased body fat are some of the most common symptoms of hypogonadism. In order to get on TRT the legal way, blood tests must be completed.
If blood work determines that hypogonadism is the culprit for the above (and other) symptoms, then TRT can be prescribed with a goal to rebuild T levels back up to their natural range, which for a healthy adult male typically falls within the 300 to 1,000 ng/dL (nanograms per deciliter) range.
Side note: TRT skin patches, mouth patches, gels, and injections all bypass the liver, making oral TRT delivery the harshest on the body.
Regardless of hypogonadism, TRT appeals to weightlifters because there is correlated research showing that it leads to an increase in strength. However, younger lifters looking to gain an edge over their peers in the gym by getting a “head-start” through TRT run the risk of experiencing adverse side effects. This study shows a link between high T levels in young men and lower sperm quality. TRT can increase sex drive, increase muscle gains, decrease body fat, boost confidence & reduce risk aversion (which just means that you’ll speak your mind more, and maybe approach that woman with more confidence).All good, right?
Maybe not. Let’s get into the side effects.
For starters, we have to remember that TRT is a drug: hard to stop. Given the recent massive societal changes over the last few years, we need to ask ourselves whether or not a dependence on pharmaceutical corporations is in our best interests. When/if the drug companies are no longer able to provide the prescribed dosage, dependence doesn’t just disappear. Then what?
Besides that, mass clinical trials have not been conducted yet with TRT–and it’ll probably be years before those happen. Some other potential risks include: benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), prostate cancer, sleep apnea, blood clots, and congestive heart failure. We can’t forget the anecdotal evidence (“gym talk”) about the negative side effects like acne, estrogen spikes, hair loss (which is one the symptoms TRT is supposed to counter), gonad shrinkage, and an impact on fertility.
When weighing the cost/benefits of TRT (as well as the cost in dollars, which can range from $20 to $1,000 a month), keep in mind that TRT simply boosts T levels. It doesn’t actually treat the underlying issues, and so in order to maintain high T without addressing those issues, you’ll likely be on TRT for life.
That’s a less than idea setup.
The whole issue revolves around the uncertainty of the answer to the question of what now? First, we should all get blood work done–that’s a no-brainer. We all need to know what's really going on under the surface.
When asessing our own personal picture, i’s important to note that we must never play the comparison game. The jacked “alpha” dude with the ladies might be on TRT, but he also probably puts in a lot of hard work. TRT isn’t a way to get the results without the work. Those who get the full benefits of TRT are working really hard–in life and in the gym–and TRT is giving them that extra “oomph” to fully experience the RESULTS of that hard work.
Here’s our stance: we recommend maxing out the body’s natural potential before even thinking about going on TRT. Even if bloodwork comes back with a low T number, there are so many alternatives to exhaust before sounding the alarm and opting for the extreme of TRT.
There’s tons of reasons why T can be low, many of which we’ve covered in other posts on our blog. Lifestyle changes can serve to not only offset the effects of a hormone deficiency, but can actually raise testosterone levels in the process. Eating right (organic whole foods), working out properly, taking over-the-counter supplements to make up for any nutritional deficiencies, and getting the right amount of sleep all should be the first step on the quest to raise T levels. A quick search will yield tons of articles to help; here’s a short one from Healthline that’s a pretty good place to start, as well as this one and this one from our own blog.
Bottom line: If it can be done naturally, do it naturally. Anything worth having in life requires hard work and sacrifice, so TRT should never be a replacement (no pun intended) for personal effort. TRT should be the last resort.
Everyone needs to make choices they deem best fit for themselves and their situation, but it’s imperative to learn as much as possible before rushing into a decision just because it’s been normalized.
We hope this was helpful, and if you’re ready to take the first step towards maxing out your genetic potential and living a T-enabling lifestyle, click here to check out our organic underwear.
NADS Blogman, signing off.