Men who experience low levels of testosterone explore various routes of care to combat symptoms, such as erectile dysfunction (ED) and low sex drive, and improve their day-to-day life. Options include natural treatment methods and/or the use of ED devices. Both of these options eliminate the risks associated with medication, testosterone injection treatments, and other standard methods of treating decreased testosterone levels.
When considering testosterone therapy as a treatment solution, it’s important to understand the risks and side effects of testosterone shots before determining if this is the best course of action for you. By being informed, you can weigh the pros and cons against the effectiveness of other methods based on your symptoms and stage of life. Each person will have a different reaction to testosterone therapy, but these six side effects are commonly linked to administering testosterone shots.
#1: Worsening Sleep Apnea
One of the main effects of testosterone injection treatment is worsening sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes breathing to stop periodically through the night, which leads to snoring, disrupted sleep, and daytime fatigue. Sleep apnea has been linked to erectile dysfunction and decreased libido.
According to a study evaluating the link between obstructive sleep apnea and testosterone deficiency published in the World Journal of Men’s Health, the plausible reason is due to the fact that testosterone replacement therapy causes “changes to the airways, changes in metabolic requirements, and changes in the physiologic response to hypoxia and hypercapnia.” Consequently, the type of treatment used to improve low testosterone levels may actually be contributing to a sleep condition that results in the same types of side effects.
#2: Acne and Other Skin Conditions
Since testosterone is a hormone that stimulates sebum production, another one of the effects of testosterone shots is it can lead to acne and cysts beneath the skin. Testosterone levels are typically higher during puberty and early adulthood, which is why the presence of whiteheads and blackheads are more common at these stages. However, with regularly administered shots increasing testosterone levels, it can result in flare-ups regardless of age.
#3: Breast Swelling or Tenderness
Although it’s often reported more frequently among teenage boys, gynecomastia or breast tenderness and swelling is one of the side effects of testosterone shots. It becomes prevalent among elderly men due to increased levels of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). This is because SHBG is produced by the liver and attached to sex hormones including testosterone but also estrogen (found in women). The fluctuation of hormones can cause abnormal levels of both, resulting in breast enlargement.
#4: High Red Blood Cell Count
A high red blood cell count or erythrocytosis is another side effect to be wary of when implementing testosterone replacement therapy, as it increases the risk of blood clots. This can result in symptoms such as fatigue, blurred vision, and recurring headaches.
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism published a study that measured the comparison of changes in hemoglobin in young men ages 19-35 years and older men ages 60-75. From the study, it was determined testosterone caused a rise in red blood cell count, particularly in older men. This condition, commonly known as erythrocytosis, can be linked to blood clots and other potential complications.
#5: Growth of Prostate Cancer Cells
Additionally, research shows evidence that one of the most significant side effects of testosterone shots is the promotion of prostate cancer due to raising the androgen levels of men. In a study performed in affiliation with the Division of Urologic Surgery at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 81 men with hypogonadism with an average age of 56.8 years were followed for an average of 33.8 months following the start of testosterone replacement therapy.
All men reported a normal baseline of prostate-specific antigen levels to start the study. Total testosterone levels increased from 241.1 ng/dL to 379.8 ng/DL after 36 months of treatment, with four men developing prostate cancer at an average of 32.5 months. This particular study demonstrates the effectiveness of testosterone replacement therapy to improve sexual function and quality of life, but also the potential risk of developing prostate cancer symptoms. Although this study noted that while the risk is there, the incidence of prostate cancer among men participating in this study is no greater than in the general population.
#6: Cardiovascular Problems
Men who rely on testosterone treatment for the long-term appear to be at higher risk of cardiovascular conditions, such as a heart attack or stroke, per information provided by Harvard Health Publishing. As with the risk of prostate cancer, the determination of the link between testosterone therapy and cardiovascular events is also largely determined by an individual’s health history which may elevate the risk of side effects.
Ongoing Cost of Testosterone Shots
In addition to the physical side effects, there are cost factors to consider as well with testosterone therapy. Dosage varies by patient, but testosterone shots are normally scheduled every two to four weeks. The reason for this is because testosterone shots are designed to raise levels of testosterone, requiring reoccurring treatment. The expense of the shot in addition to the need for regular doctor visits continues to add up over time, making this a pricy treatment option.
Alternative Methods of Treatment for Low Testosterone Levels
Testosterone treatment requires frequent doctor’s visits and prescription of medication or testosterone shots. You should review this option with your doctor and go over all possible side effects, especially as it pertains to your current health condition. It’s likely you could experience one or multiple of the above-mentioned side effects after starting testosterone therapy. Gauge your body’s reactions to determine its efficacy. Sometimes a change of lifestyle is the first step to see results.
How to Increase Testosterone Naturally
So, wondering how to increase testosterone naturally? To forgo the testosterone therapy route and eliminate the risk of the side effects altogether, there are natural treatment methods to consider instead.
First is an overall assessment of your diet, exercise, and sleep habits. Each of these areas plays a crucial role in all aspects of your health, including maintaining healthy testosterone levels. For example, whole foods rich in vitamin D, healthy heart fats, and protein are all beneficial in combating testosterone deficiency in a natural way. Plus, regular exercise goes hand-in-hand with following a healthful, balanced diet.
Exercise increases muscle mass while reducing body fat. Starting a regular cardio and strength training routine can prove valuable especially among overweight and obese men who experience symptoms of low testosterone levels, such as a low sex drive, fatigue, and depressed mood. The same goes for getting an adequate amount of quality sleep each night. Sleep helps the body function properly and promotes the release of testosterone.
Second, a body-safe, natural treatment like the Eddie ED device by Giddy has proven successful to help maintain an erection. It’s designed for comfort and ranges in size to accommodate all men. Most importantly, the FDA-registered device provides solutions for some of the side effects of low testosterone levels without the risks of side effects of testosterone shots or medication.
These natural ED devices are beneficial, especially in men who experience late onset hypogonadism but are otherwise healthy. Natural ED products can help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life without trips to the doctor, refilling prescriptions, or relying on standard ED devices that are uncomfortable and not as effective.
Causes of Low Testosterone Levels
There are a variety of causes of low testosterone in men that can occur at various stages of life. Determining whether you may benefit from testosterone is based on what types of symptoms you’re experiencing. Sexual dysfunction such as a low sex drive and/or the inability to maintain an erection are usually the top two indicators of low testosterone levels. However, there are other symptoms that may immediately signify a testosterone abnormality. These include:
- Depression or mood swings
- Reduced muscle mass
- Weight gain
Since these are general symptoms that can be associated with other conditions like obesity, diabetes, and certain medications, getting your blood tested can eliminate these effects. For men who have late onset hypogonadism, age is the top factor affecting decreased levels of testosterone. While a blood test can confirm if there are underlying health conditions contributing as well, a majority of men may experience late onset hypogonadism and report an otherwise clean bill of health.
There are other extenuating circumstances that may also lead to temporary fluctuations in testosterone levels as well. These include surgery, bodily injury, and infections. A pituitary gland disease or autoimmune disease may also affect testosterone levels. Presented symptoms, age, and lifestyle all factor into the type of treatment that’s recommended. However, starting with natural methods allows you to implement solutions that don’t require ongoing medical costs or the risk of side effects.
As men age, testosterone levels naturally decline. Fortunately, there are treatment options that can help to improve your sexual health and life satisfaction. Since not all situations are the same, determine what your individual needs are and how you can increase low testosterone levels to promote continued good health and create a more optimal quality of life.