Testosterone Replacement Therapy: Myths and Facts
How do I take testosterone replacement therapy? continued...
Patches. These are easy to apply. But patches can cause skin rashes and may have to be applied more than once a day.
Gels. You rub gels into the skin daily. They are convenient to use. But you have to be careful that no one comes into contact with the treated area for several hours after you've applied it. Otherwise they could get testosterone in their system. A nasal gel is now available that eliminates the risk of exposure to others.
Buccal patch. You put this on your upper gum twice a day. These patches are convenient but can cause irritation or gum disease.
Injections. Injections are given anywhere from 2 to 10 weeks apart. They are inexpensive compared to other treatments. But injections may not provide steady benefits. Your testosterone levels will go back down between doses.
Subcutaneous pellets. Your doctor inserts these under your skin every 3 to 6 months. They are very convenient once they're put in, but they require minor surgery for each dose.
How will I be monitored while on testosterone replacement therapy?
Your doctor will measure your testosterone levels at the 3- and 6-month marks after treatment begins. After that you'll be tested once a year. If your levels are OK you'll stay on your current dose.
If your testosterone levels are too low, your dose may be adjusted. At the same time, your doctor will check your red blood cell levels.
Within 1 to 2 years of TRT, your doctor will measure your bone density if you had osteoporosis when treatment began. Your doctor will evaluate your prostate cancer risk at the start of treatment and may do more tests at the 3- and 6-month marks, and then annually.
Patients taking TRT should call 911 immediately if they have symptoms which include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
- Weakness in one side of the body
- Slurred speech
How long do I have to take testosterone replacement therapy?
Indefinitely. TRT does not cure low testosterone, so your symptoms may return if you stop taking it.