Testosterone replacement therapy is something that can greatly benefit many people, both men and women, who are suffering from the symptoms of low testosterone (such as low sex drive, fatigue, hot flashes, depression, mood swings, etc.). Dr. Harris has personally benefited from testosterone replacement therapy. You can see part of his story that he shared as a speaker at the 2018 TEDxDayton event here.
Now, when we think about testosterone therapy, there is a lot of misinformation out there that we’d like to shed some light on. So we have put together some myths that should be addressed for anyone interested in pursuing any kind of testosterone replacement therapy.
1. Undesired side effects: If I take testosterone I’m going to get a beard.
Both women and men naturally produce testosterone, women just produce significantly less than men. When you think about women getting hormone replacement therapy, you probably tend to think about the unwanted side effects. These are seen when women receive too much testosterone, such as: growing unwanted facial hair, deepening of the voice, or acne. The goal of hormone replacement therapy is to get a woman to a testosterone level that provides symptom relief (i.e. increasing libido, helping with muscle development, helping with weight loss) but doesn’t cause side effects of unwanted hair growth. Dr. Harris does lab work on every patient, and considers past medical history (i.e. history of acne, hair growth, oily skin) when calculating the dosage for each patient. Done this way, there is less of a risk of undesired side effects.
2. Just diet and exercise will increase your Testosterone
There is a lot of talk about diet and lack of exercise being the cause of hormonal imbalance. While there may be some truth to this, this does not tell the whole story. Hormone production naturally declines as we age, in both men and women. Improving diet and increasing exercise has many benefits, and is recommended for anyone experiencing symptoms of hormonal imbalance. However, diet and exercise cannot fix everything because of the natural reduction in hormone production due to age. People don’t blame women going through menopause for not having the right diet and exercise routine. It’s something that naturally occurs in a certain part of life. The same thing happens to men at a certain age.
A yearlong study¹ regarding the effect of exercise on hormones in men had the conclusion that there was NO significant difference between the workout group and the sedentary group in Free or Total Testosterone.
That does not mean, however, that we must suffer through the symptoms of hormonal imbalance. We have a choice to either replace what our body is no longer producing at the rate needed to feel better, or we just suffer through the symptoms, which can last years. The goal is to restore hormonal balance – to get rid of the symptoms such as fatigue, mood swings, depression, and sexual dysfunction, and get you back to feeling good again.
3. Testosterone Replacement Therapy causes cancer
In the early 1940s there was a study that appeared to link testosterone supplementation with prostate cancer growth. More recent research, however, has come to the conclusion that testosterone replacement therapy does not appear to increase the risk of prostate cancer development. The current data² are reassuring, although some caution is essential until multiple studies with longer follow-up are available.
4. Hormone imbalance is just part of getting older.
Culturally, it seems to be accepted that once women reach a certain age, hormonal imbalance sets in along with all the negative side effects. It is just accepted that this happens all that can be done is wait it out, which can take years. The same with men…once they get older things don’t work quite like they used to. As we age our bodies change, but that doesn’t mean we have to suffer through these changes in the meantime. Balancing your hormones can get rid of those symptoms that are making you miserable, and get you back to feeling like yourself and having the energy to enjoy life the way you want to.
Dr. Harris now offers online consultations, and for people outside of the Dayton area, testosterone creams are available. You can schedule your televisit consultation here.
¹ Hawkins et al. Effect of Exercise on Serum Sex Hormones Men: A 12-Month Randomized Clinical Trial. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008 Feb; 40(2): 223-233
- Study looked at 102 sedentary men ages 40-75 over a 12 month period assigned to exercise (370 min/week @ 102% of goal) vs no exercise
- Increase in DHT (dihydrotestosterone) and SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin)
- NO significant difference between the workout group and the sedentary group in Free or Total Testosterone.
- Conclusions: A yearlong, moderate-intensity aerobic exercise program increased DHT and SHBG, but it had no effect on other androgens in middle-aged to older men.
²Kaplan, Alan L. et al. Testosterone Therapy in Men With Prostate Cancer. European Urology, May 2016; Volume 69, Issue 5, 894 – 903
- Reviewed the history of prostate cancer and TRT and concluded that, “An important paradigm shift has occurred within the field, in which testosterone therapy may now be regarded as a viable option for selected men with prostate cancer suffering from testosterone deficiency.”
²Endogenous and exogenous testosterone and the risk of prostate cancer and increased prostate specific antigen (PSA) level: a meta-analysis. BJU Int. 2016 Nov; 118(5): 731-741
- Prostate cancer appears to unrelated to endogenous testosterone levels. TRT for symptomatic hypogandism does not appear to increase PSA levels nor the risk of prostate cancer development. The current data are reassuring, although some caution is essential until multiple studies with longer follow-up are available.