The number of male patients over the age of 40 taking testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) has tripled in recent years. Women also experiencing low testosterone levels (low T) are seeking treatments more than in the past. With this increase comes controversy about the safety of TRT, especially in patients with heart disease.
Studies published by the Harvard Medical School show that TRT carries serious risks. However, one study seemed to point towards heart-related issues, while the other study concluded that TRT doesn’t pose risks to the heart.
Each study has had its vociferous critics. They argue that the data don’t support the conclusions. Furthermore, a new study conducted by the U.S. National Institutes of Health found no increased heart attack risk associated with testosterone use.
With all this contradictory information, how can we be sure that TRT is safe? Let's take a moment to review some of the risks of TRT.
What are the Risks of TRT?
Few patients experience immediate side effects of TRT, including acne, difficulty breathing during sleep, swollen or tender breasts, and swollen ankles. Doctors also look for a high red blood cell count because TRT may increase your risk of developing blood clots.
Patients who use long-term testosterone therapy appear to be at increased risk of cardiovascular problems (as mentioned in the studies above), including:
- Heart attack
- Death from heart disease
These risks appear to be low. However, we recommend discussing all risks based on your personal medical history when deciding whether TRT is right for you. As your telemedicine provider, PeakPerforMAX specialists will talk to you about all of the risks and possible side effects of TRT during your initial consultation.
How to Decide if TRT is Safe and Right for You
You have treatment options when it comes to TRT. You can administer testosterone using transdermal patches, topical gels, buccal patches, injections, oral tablets, or intranasal (through the nose) sprays. When deciding whether it’s time to schedule an appointment with a TRT provider, consider the following:
Take Stock of Your Overall Health
Before beginning TRT, take a cautious approach. Have you considered other reasons why you might be suffering from fatigue, low libido, and other symptoms caused by low testosterone? For example, check if you’re eating a balanced and nutritious diet, working out regularly, or getting plenty of sleep. Address these factors before starting testosterone therapy.
Get an Accurate Assessment
Faulty test results can lead to misdiagnosis or missing cases of testosterone deficiency. Your testosterone levels should be measured between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. A second test should be taken on another day.
Do a test to make sure the reading is low. Determining the amount of bioavailable testosterone, or the hormone that can affect your body, requires multiple measurements and careful interpretation.
Periodic testosterone and other laboratory tests after starting treatment are essential to ensure the treatment isn’t causing other health problems with your blood chemistry.
Consider Unknown Risks
It's essential to be cautious when considering TRT if you have serious urinary problems due to an enlarged prostate or are at high risk for prostate cancer. You must also be mindful if you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease, have had a previous heart attack, or have multiple risk factors for heart problems. Ask your telehealth provider to explain the few side effects of testosterone therapy.
Where to Find a Telemedicine TRT Provider
When considering TRT for the treatment of low T, it's critical to understand the potential associated risks. At PeakPerforMAX, our telehealth providers will work with you to ensure that you understand the risks so that you can determine if TRT is safe for you.