You’ve heard it on TV commercials, online ads, and probably even from your buddies at the gym. TRT is the real deal! Men who have tried TRT swear by the effectiveness of the treatment in getting their bodies back in shape and regaining their lost libido and energy – but what exactly is TRT?
What is TRT?
TRT, or testosterone replacement therapy, is a form of hormone replacement therapy given by doctors to patients who can no longer produce enough testosterone. As men get older, testosterone production naturally declines, and when that happens, the signs of aging accelerates, making men feel older than they should be.
Low testosterone levels can cause reduced muscle mass, strength, weak bones, energy, low libido, and erectile dysfunction. These are often attributed to aging, but these problems are all associated with low testosterone levels. Normally, men can have between 300-1200 ng/dL of testosterone, but when testosterone levels drop to dangerously low levels, doctors may prescribe TRT to pump their testosterone levels back up.
The dangers of TRT
Every doctor understands that TRT is not your average outpatient treatment. Unlike most wellness treatments that have fairly weak side effects, TRT can seriously impair your health and cause irreversible damage to your body.
Introducing a synthetic compound to your bloodstream is never simple, especially when you’re injecting a hormone into your body. The main purpose of hormones in the body is to send signals between organs in order to function synergistically.
Testosterone is a hormone that regulates many of the body’s processes, including muscle growth, libido, bone growth, energy, and mood. Testosterone production is triggered by negative feedback from the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis. Basically, if the body senses that you don’t have enough testosterone, it sends a signal to the Leydig cells to increase the production of testosterone.
Artificially increasing your testosterone levels will tip the delicate balance of inter-organ signaling, and will cause your body’s natural testosterone production to shut down. This will eventually cause your testicles to shrink, leading to an even more impaired testosterone production. Some individuals who stop taking TRT never regain their body’s natural testosterone production, and this leads to further muscle loss, weakness, libido loss, and erectile dysfunction.
Having artificially boosted testosterone levels will cause a chain reaction that leads to the increase of testosterone metabolites, such as estrogen and DHT. Estrogen causes breast growth and erectile dysfunction, while increased DHT causes prostate enlargement, acne, and male-pattern baldness.
Patients who start TRT treatments are often unaware that TRT is a lifelong treatment. It could be detrimental to their health once they stop taking TRT since the body becomes too dependent on the treatment to function. Doctors would have patients on a cycle of treatments involving different hormones, such as HCG, to offset the side effects of TRT, and this only leads to further expenses down the line.
What’s the difference between TRT and Anabolic Steroids?
If you have noticed, the side effects of TRT and anabolic steroid use are similar. Both have the same impact on natural testosterone production, estrogen buildup, and prostate risk. This is because TRT and anabolic steroids use the same kind of drug.
The only differences between TRT and anabolic steroid use are the dosage and the purpose of taking the treatment. TRT doses are often lower compared to anabolic steroid use since the objective is only to bring testosterone levels back no the normal range. Anabolic steroid users take higher doses, even to such an extent that they take the highest dosage that the body can tolerate, to accelerate muscle growth and performance.
Over-prescribing TRT in the United States
In most US cities, wellness clinics offer TRT to treat a myriad of symptoms that may involve testosterone – may this be low energy or low libido. Medical groups have released strict guidelines on the distribution, administration, and prescription of TRT to limit its use, as it is a dangerous treatment that should only be used when absolutely needed.
However, recent studies show that over 4 million Americans undergo TRT at any given time, and most of these patients receive their treatments from doctors who do not specialize in endocrinology or urology, which are the medical branches that deal with testosterone-related disorders. This leads to an over-prescription of TRT in the United States, where most patients who receive TRT are not qualified to receive the treatment.
A patient has to have less than 350 ng/dL of testosterone to qualify for the treatment, or if they have a pressing medical condition or treatment that drastically affects testosterone production. Since most patients are not qualified to receive TRTs, they could aptly be classified as improper anabolic steroid use.
While there is a significant benefit to using TRT, the risks should not be ignored. However, since TRT has evolved into a multi-billion dollar business in the United States, it would be increasingly difficult to stop the practice, and the only way to keep yourself safe and healthy is to educate yourself about the risks and learn about other safer alternatives.