The amount of testosterone your body produces naturally will gradually decline over time, usually after the age of 30. Other factors can also cause a decline in testosterone, such as chronic illness, stress, and treatment for prostate cancer. If you believe you are experiencing low-t, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your treatment options. Testosterone replacement therapy is a possibility for men with low levels of testosterone.
If your doctor recommends testosterone replacement therapy for you, ask him about the different types of medication delivery systems available to you. For example, you might use a medicated patch or you could choose an injection. As well, never start a new treatment routine without asking about the potential side effects.
Testosterone replacement therapy does carry the risk of serious side effects, so it’s important to follow some self-care tips while taking it.
Precautions before taking taking testosterone therapy
Before beginning testosterone replacement therapy, disclose your full medical history to your doctor. Discuss any other medical conditions you have and any drugs or supplements you take. Some conditions, such as congestive heart failure or erythrocytosis (high blood counts) may make it dangerous for you to use this treatment. Your next step is to consider the different types of testosterone replacement therapy and choose the specific medication delivery system that is right for you.
Some men find that a transdermal patch is the most convenient testosterone therapy delivery method. The patch is typically applied once daily, at the same time each day (usually in the evening). It’s important not to use more than one per day. Apply the patch to an area of skin that is not likely to be exposed to pressure or excessive sweating, and also does not have a great deal of hair. Never apply the patch to an open wound or to irritated skin. If your skin becomes irritated after removing the patch, apply a small amount of hydrocortisone cream (never use other ointments).
Testosterone topical gel
This is a gel that is applied to the skin. It is critically important that you apply it to an area of skin that is not going to be touched by another person, particularly a woman or a child. Like the patch, the gel is applied once daily at the same time each day. The particular brand of gel that you use will direct you to apply it on a certain area of your body; be sure to follow all directions. Delay bathing as directed by the product label.
A mouth patch is also available for testosterone replacement therapy. This patch, which is shaped like a tablet, should be applied to the upper gum twice daily, or about every 12 hours. The tablets should never be chewed or swallowed. They release the medication slowly, but do not dissolve completely. You must remove the old tablet before applying the new one. Always apply the new tablet to the alternate side of your mouth.
Injections and implants
The injection is administered into a buttock muscle, either by your doctor or by yourself at home. It is typically administered every one to four weeks. If you choose the testosterone implant instead, your doctor will insert it under the skin of the buttock or abdomen. It will release testosterone continually over the next few months.
Read more in our Low T Health Center.