RX for Low T: 5 Boosts for Testosterone
“This Kind of Thing Has Never Happened Before . . .”
If you were wide awake in health class—or, happened on it while flipping through a Men’s Fitness magazine in between articles on ab crunches—testosterone is a naturally occurring hormone produced by the human body that helps signal organ development and bone growth and the creation of new blood cells in males and females.
Testosterone is critical in helping to build a happy, healthy adult. For pubescent boys, testosterone is responsible for growth spurts, all that hair that starts to show up and you can’t get rid of, and the development of your sexual organs. Produce too little and bone growth may be disproportionate with limbs developing at different rates, delayed facial and body hair growth, as well as penis and testicular development may be delayed. Too much during puberty may not be the worst thing for boys (unless they abuse anabolic steroids, which can confuse the body, shrink testes and encourage breast growth), but for girls it can aggravate acne, increase body and facial hair (or begin balding!), increase body bulk, and assorted hormonal issues—including infertility, which could afflict both genders.
Over time and for any number of reasons, owing to genetics and daily habits, the ability to produce testosterone could begin to decrease—notably, in men. In addition to difficulty during sexual performance or lack of interest, you may feel more fatigued than normal, depressed, or experience a lack of confidence. You may also experience hair loss and pronounced weight gain. If untreated for too long, bones will weaken and osteoporosis may set in. As for hypogonadism, this is a condition a male could be born with, or it manifests later from an injury or an infection. Most of the following treatment options are used as well.
Low testosterone—or “low T”—may be revealed during a doctor’s examination. There’s a certain amount of testosterone that your body produces over time that is considered a healthy level. Currently, the level clinicians go by 280 to 1,100 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). If it’s lower than that, your doctor may consider testosterone therapy may be what you need and prescribe medications as part of a regimen. Though treatment options will be explained to you, your own research may be required. Any decision you make should be in tandem with a health care professional.
“Take This and Call Me in the Morning”: Prescription Treatments for Low Testosterone
Testosterone in gel form, such as AndroGel, is clear, odorless and quick drying. It’s commonly prescribed and noted for its effectiveness. In a clinical study over 16 weeks, 82% of users had increased their levels of T, as opposed to 37% who were treated with a placebo.
Using a pump or packets, it’s easy to apply to clean dry skin, but it should be covered by some clothing. Any contact to an exposed area by pre-pubescent children or pregnant or breast-feeding women should be avoided. In children, it could kick in early puberty, with unexpected sexual development and early onset of pubic hair and aggressive behavior. As for women, hair loss, headache and changes in sex drive can occur; for pregnant women and nursing mothers, there’s a possibility of fetal injury and reactions to nursing babies.
Side effects for the user include headaches, skin irritation, urination issues, ankle swelling, nausea and stomach pains, and prolonged, painful erections.
CareFirst Specialty Pharmacy makes a topical compounded testosterone cream that can be formulated to your doctor’s prescription with the consideration and care required.
Much of the same medications found in gel form are made as transdermal patches, but the more commonly prescribed ones are Androderm and Testoderm. The recommendation to apply to a dry, clean patch of skin stands, and works overnight. The advantage to using a patch is that it can be worn during sex or even during a shower or bathing. Patches have been proven to be more a direct and fast-acting treatment.
The drawbacks in terms of side effects remain akin to the gel. What’s more, you must rotate where you place the patch every night. It can become detached if you tend to sweat a lot. Also, the patch doesn’t exist in a generic form.
If you don’t mind needles, this may be the one for you. With injectable testosterone, such as Delatestryl, the dosage is measured out to the proportionate syringe size. Either you can have your doctor do the injection for you, or once instructed, you can do the dosage yourself. Once injected, the absorption is more immediate than with a gel or patch. The other subcutaneous route would be to have pellets, such as Testopel, inserted under your skin.
The Natural Boost
If you’re intimidated about side effects or walk the path of natural healing, there are a variety of treatment options. Some natural cures tend to deal with the sexual symptoms of low T such as infertility and low sperm count or erectile dysfunction. What may be just as helpful in increasing your T level is to take vitamin and mineral supplements that your body may be missing owing to a variety of deficiencies.
Zinc is vital in keeping your immune system strong and strengthening your digestive tract. You can get zinc from eating red meat, poultry, seafood, beans and nuts, or take a supplement.
Because it’s vital in body maintenance, low zinc can be symptomatic in low T. As a testosterone boost, zinc supplements are best for those who suffer from zinc deficiencies. Consult a physician if this is the right option for you.
Another necessity for strengthening your immune system and protecting your bones, vitamin D can also increase your testosterone levels. Vitamin D production can occur naturally if you get 10 to 15 minutes of sun, 3 times a week (sunscreen can decrease your body’s ability to produce vitamin D, though).
There are a variety of clinical studies that consider how effective vitamin D supplementing is in increasing T levels. While the results may be mixed and seemed to benefit those with a vitamin D deficiency, maintaining a consistent level proved beneficial—especially when it seems that vitamin D deficiency is common as more people are working and spending time indoors.
“After All: It’s Not You, It’s Me!”
What conventional and alternative health professionals will agree on is maintaining as healthy a lifestyle is the best approach for fixing low T. You need to eat the right foods, including fish and fresh vegetables, and cut out the fatty, salty kinds. And stay away from the smokes! Be sure to get regular exercise and plenty of rest.
Doing the best self-maintenance will help keep your T at a healthy level. Should it come to prescribing medication, CareFirst Specialty Pharmacies provides testosterone in a variety of formulations based on your doctor’s recommendations. Be sure to work with your health care professionals to see what would be the best treatment option for you. Don’t forget to consider CareFirst Specialty Pharmacies to cover your prescription needs!