The question of whether or not testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is safe, is a common one. In fact, two of my own clients (middle aged) have asked my personal opinion on the matter.
The short answer is, yes, testosterone therapy is generally considered safe. That said, it doesn’t come without risk, including serious risk. Some people do indeed experience side effects from testosterone injections, so it’s something you need to be aware of.
Additionally, depending on the reason for the injections, side effects may vary widely from person to person. Additional risk factors include your age, medications you might be on, or your health history, for example. Certain conditions may lead to unwanted side effects in some people.
That’s why seeing a doctor or specialist is a must before you begin testosterone replacement therapy. Your doctor will first help you determine if there is any benefit for you to begin TRT, and he will help administer therapy safely if he determines you are a good candidate for treatment.
It may surprise you, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends against using testosterone to treat natural aging-related testosterone changes, as the medication may lead to certain health issues. However, testosterone injections are recommended for low testosterone due to certain medical conditions.
You can learn more about the benefits, safety, and side effects of testosterone injections by reading on. Also, speak to your doctor today if you do think testosterone therapy treatment might be right for you. This is a step you won’t want to skip.
Notes on Testosterone Injections & Other Therapy Options
While both men and women naturally produce this hormone, males have naturally higher levels. In fact, testosterone is the primary sex hormone and anabolic steroid in men.
Men primarily get testosterone therapy to make up for deficiencies that negatively impact their health, however, normal testosterone levels in women are essential for promoting health as well. Yup, this means women too may benefit from testosterone replacement therapy.
How is Testosterone Administered?
Testosterone can be administered by injection, patch, topical gel, pill, or implant. Although, injecting testosterone is the most common method. Speak to your doctor about the different methods to determine what is going to be best for you.
If you end up going the injection route (most common), isolated testosterone will be injected intramuscular (given directly into a muscle) via a dose and schedule determined by you and your doctor.
Administering testosterone injections yourself is usually not recommended, but under the guidance of a doctor, you can administer it yourself via a home injection kit. Once you’ve consulted with a doctor, this may work for you if you are capable and not squeamish with needles.
Before recommending it, your doctor or TRT specialist will weigh the risks and benefits of long-term testosterone therapy. That’s why it’s important among other reasons to consult with your doctor or a TRT specialist first. Jumping in without any guidance is never recommended.
This next section examines the use of testosterone injections since this method is most common.
Injection Types of Testosterone
There are several types of testosterone injections including:
- Testosterone enanthate
- Testosterone cypionate
- Testosterone undecanoate
What are they used for?
Injections of testosterone enter the body directly through muscles. Two options are available:
- Self-injecting the hormone using a home injection kit at home.
- Doctors administer them during a visit to the office to the buttocks muscle.
People who receive testosterone injections usually visit their doctors every few months to monitor their progress. Depending on the situation, treatments could last for a lifetime or be short-term.
Are they safe?
When people follow their doctor’s instructions, testosterone injections may be safe for many people. The research has also found several side effects and possible complications associated with testosterone therapy.
Testosterone therapy may have the following adverse effects:
- Cardiovascular complications are more likely to occur
- A worsening of symptoms in the lower urinary tract
- Cancer of the blood, polycythemia vera
- Thrombosis of the veins is increased
- Injections of testosterone may cause an allergic reaction in some people.
A testosterone undecanoate injection can result in severe allergic reactions or breathing issues, dizziness, and skin rashes. The other testosterone enanthate may increase blood pressure, raising the risk of a stroke/ heart attack. A doctor should be informed that a patient has suffered a stroke, heart attack, or heart disease before beginning testosterone injections, as they are at a greater risk of complications.
After receiving testosterone injection, a patient should seek emergency medical attention if they experience any of the following signs: slow or difficult speech, chest pain, shortness of breath, and pain in the arms, neck, back, or jaw.
As part of treating a constitutional delay of growth and puberty, male testosterone injections are prescribed to adolescents experiencing a developmental delay. The final height of an adolescent should not be affected by this therapy.
Are there side effects?
In addition to the aforementioned potential adverse effects (see above), testosterone therapy can cause mild side effects such as acne, breast enlargement or pain, hoarseness, a deeper voice, tiredness, back pain, and weight gain.
You can also face redness, bleeding, bruising, pain, or hardness at the injection site, joint pain, headaches, trouble sleeping or staying awake, and mood swings. More serious side effects may also occur.
Some more serious side effects may include:
- Trouble breathing
- Nausea or vomiting
- The feet swelling, ankles, lower legs, or in hands
- Lower leg pain, redness, or warmth
- Yellowing of the eyes or skin
- Excessively long-lasting erections
- You may have trouble urinating, urinating more frequently, urinating more weakly, or you have urinary urgency or blood in your urine
- An upper right abdominal pain
- Suicidal thoughts, depression, or anxiety
The Bottom Line
Testosterone plays an integral role in regulating many systems in the body and has been shown vital to a myriad of favorable health outcomes in research.
This important hormone has a lot of critical roles in the body. That is why people with low testosterone levels may benefit by increasing the levels of this hormone.
However, not everyone is the ideal candidate for testosterone replacement therapy. Testosterone replacement therapy certainly comes with risks, although, it’s generally safe when used under the guidance of a professional.
That said, you may just need to make some lifestyle changes (diet and exercise) to naturally increase your T levels. If lifestyle changes can help you naturally boost your testosterone levels, this is highly recommended over the therapy route.
All in all, always consult with a licensed healthcare professional before considering any dietary, nutritional, or lifestyle changes. Testosterone therapy is absolutely no exception. If it’s for you, it’s for you, and your doctor will help you determine this.