Sometimes erectile dysfunction is a symptom of low testosterone. If it is the case, testosterone replacement therapy is required. The level of testosterone can decrease for many reasons, but the most common of them is aging. After the age of forty testosterone usually start to decline. The process is quite slow, so the changes in the body at first are very subtle. But in the course of time, these changes become more and more obvious. The symptoms of low testosterone, apart from erectile dysfunction, are:
• Decreased or low libido, general decreasing of interest in sexual life.
• Loss of hair.
• Rapid fatigability, low level of energy.
• Increased irritability and even tearfulness.
• Body weight gain, weakening of muscles.
• The growth of male mammary glands.
• The increase in cholesterol level.
• Overall tiredness and depression.
If a man has three or more of these symptoms, he is recommended to have his samples taken. If the test shows low testosterone, a doctor can prescribe testosterone replacement therapy.
The Forms of Testosterone Therapy
First of all, it is worth mentioning that pills or tablets containing testosterone are not produced because of strong side effects. When taken orally, this hormone affects the liver. That is why other methods of testosterone supplementing are used.
The most common and widespread method is the injection. The medicine containing the hormone is injected intramuscularly, bypassing the liver and penetrating directly to blood vessels. Another form is a skin or mouth patch. A skin patch is applied once a day, usually on the arm. A mouth patch is applied twice a day. In is attached to the upper palate. The patch is constantly releasing testosterone, which is absorbed right in the mouth cavity and gets directly to the blood.
One more form of testosterone is a gel, which can apply either on skin or in inside the nose. In both cases, the active ingredient is absorbed into the blood. Finally, the most convenient form is an implant. Testosterone in the form of a small pellet is implanted under the skin, where it is slowly absorbing into the blood.
The effect of the treatment is seen after the level of testosterone reaches the required level. It usually takes about one month.
Though testosterone replacement therapy can be rather effective for the treatment of erectile dysfunction and increase sex drive in general, this method has a range of side effects. Though serious, large clinical trials in thus field haven’t been conducted yet, experts distinguish the following risks of long-term testosterone therapy:
• Increased risk of a heart attack or a stroke.
• Increased risk of sleep apnea.
• Increased risk of prostate cancer and prostatic hypertrophy.
That is why every time before prescribing a testosterone replacement therapy a doctor should carefully estimate potential benefits and possible risks for the patient. And of course, all testosterone-containing medicine are not sold without a prescription.