Testosterone Therapy: Injections vs Gels vs Creams vs Patches
Testosterone is a hormone important for adequate red blood cell levels, well-being, lean muscle mass, bone growth and sexual function. During puberty, the production of this hormone increases significantly, but once men reach their 30th birthday, production starts to gradually slow down. Learning more about testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), the methods and why someone might consider it is something all men should explore.
Signs of Low Testosterone
Before diving into the methods of hormone administration, it is important to look at what low levels of this hormone might cause men to experience. These may include:
- Reduced sex drive
- Weight gain
- Lowered self-esteem
- Thinner bones
- Less energy
- Feelings of depression
- Reduced body hair
Getting older results in a natural decrease in the levels of this hormone. However, other factors may play a role, such as cancer treatments or testicular injuries. Certain chronic diseases may also contribute to lower levels, such as kidney disease, cirrhosis of the liver, AIDS and alcoholism.
Testosterone and Hormone Level Testing
Blood testing can be done to determine the levels of this hormone. In addition, it may be ideal to also test the levels of precursors to this hormone, such as DHEA, or certain other hormones, such as human growth hormone. Once the results are in, you can determine if hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a good choice. Should you opt to increase hormone levels with this method, the first choice you have to make is how it will be administered. There are several routes you want to explore. Consider your personal preferences, health history, hormone levels and associated factors to make the best decision for you.
Testosterone Therapy Injections
Injections are often not someone’s first choice, but options, such as the subcutaneous injection, are actually the most universal and often considered to be the most convenient. There are multiple injectable options to choose from at varying doses and administration schedules. There are options that go directly into the muscle or ones that go into the fatty later of skin, similar to where human growth hormone is given.
The muscular option is usually administered into the hip or glute about once a week. This route tends to result in fluctuating levels of this hormone. However, when placed into the fatty layer of skin, research shows that large spikes in the level of this hormone are prevented. This means greater hormone stability and the actual act of injecting tends to be more comfortable and convenient for patients.
Testosterone Therapy Patches (Transdermal)
This form of administration generally comes in the form of a patch that is placed directly onto the skin. Every day, you will usually have to remove the previous day’s patch and apply the new one. It is very important that the patch is placed on healthy skin and not on areas that are irritated or have a wound. The area should also not be prone to excessive sweating or pressure. You may need to remove hair at the patch site to ensure that it adheres well.
Oral Testosterone Therapy Tablets
This route involves taking pills or tablets that contain the hormone. The forms used for oral administration are chemically-modified so that the liver does not deactivate them. They include testosterone undecanoate and methyltestosterone. Since oral drugs are quickly eliminated from the body, you usually have to take approximately three to six capsules daily, so this may be an inconvenient choice if you lead a busy life. Compared to injectable forms, oral drugs are also usually considerably more expensive.
Sublingual or Buccal Testosterone Therapy
This route involves placing tablet either against the gums or under the tongue. The most common form of buccal testosterone therapy is from Striant. The tablet should remain in place until it fully dissolves. Swallowing the tablet may come with the risk of liver toxicity. There are also patches that are placed on the gums. They are shaped like a tablet and must never be swallowed or chewed. When you apply a new one, it should go on the opposite side of the mouth and never use the same application site immediately after using it the previous day.
Subcutaneous Hormone and Testosterone Therapy Pellets
This is a relatively new administration route for HRT. It is a pellet that contains a crystalline and pure form of the hormone. The pellet goes right under the skin and it is implanted. The pellets are approximately the size of a grain of rice and generally placed in the abdomen or buttocks. They last about three to four months and release an average of one to three milligrams of the hormone per day.
Topical Gel and Cream Testosterone Therapy
This is a type of gel or cream that contains the hormone and is applied directly to the skin. It is imperative that the area it is placed is not touched by anyone, especially children or women. In most cases, it is applied once a day. Bathing may need to be delayed after application.
With this information, you can make an informed decision about whether hormone replacement therapy is ideal for you. You also now have more knowledge concerning delivery methods so that you can choose the best option, such as subcutaneous injections.