What Is Hormone Replacement Therapy for Men?

Meshell Powell

Hormone replacement therapy for men is more common than many people realize. Testosterone is the primary male hormone and is normally produced by the testicles. As men grow older, testosterone production may decrease, making hormone replacement therapy for men a viable treatment option. Certain medical conditions or the use of some medications may also lead to a decrease in testosterone production. Hormone replacement therapy for men is available in several forms, including topical gels, injections, or external patches.

As men age, male hormones may decrease.
As men age, male hormones may decrease.

Testosterone has many important functions for the male body, including reproductive and sexual functioning, bone density, and an overall sense of well-being. Testosterone also strongly influences red blood cell production and the maintenance of muscle bulk. When testosterone levels drop, a variety of health issues may develop, including lowered libido, depression, and trouble with memory or concentration. Hormone replacement therapy can often reduce or eliminate these symptoms.

Naturally found in the body, testosterone in men is mainly produced in the testicles.
Naturally found in the body, testosterone in men is mainly produced in the testicles.

If left untreated, some noticeable changes to the body may occur due to decreased testosterone levels. This may involve an increase in body fat as well as a decrease in muscle mass. Body hair may begin to decrease, or a condition known as osteoporosis, which causes the bones to become fragile, may develop. Some men may become anemic or start to have trouble maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Simple blood tests at a doctor's office can accurately determine whether hormone replacement therapy would be beneficial.

Intramuscular injections are a popular form of testosterone replacement. These injections are usually given at a doctor's office once every two or three weeks. One of the advantages of the injections is the fact that many men begin to feel positive effects shortly after they are given. Unfortunately, testosterone levels do not remain steady and begin to decline again when it is getting close to the time for another injection.

Testosterone patches or gels are other methods of hormone replacement therapy for men. Some men may not be able to use the patches if significant skin irritation occurs. When the gels are used, extreme caution should be employed to make sure that the hormones are not accidentally transferred to another person. Testosterone pills are not available because oral delivery of this hormone does not appear to have significant benefits, especially considering the risks to the liver when testosterone is taken orally. Any questions or concerns about hormone replacement therapy should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

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