Testosterone Replacement Therapy

There is a upmarket medical center about 5 minutes down the road from where I work, run by one of the best hospital groups in Thailand.  This medical center includes an Anti-Aging Clinic, where they apparently give you a thorough work-up and look at what condition your body is in, and what you need to do to keep it at optimum level.  An older colleague of mine (mid fifties) went there a few months ago, and one of the things that his blood work showed was low testosterone.  They subsequently started him on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).  Apparently low testosterone (by low, I mean at the lower end of the ‘normal’ scale, i.e. it is still normal, but a low normal) is quite common amongst men. This article from the Oxford journal states that experts believe that as few as 1 in 20 patients are diagnosed in the US, i.e. 19 patients with the condition go undiagnosed, or put another way, only 5% of the population with the condition are actually recognized and treated!

After my colleague started the TRT he lost weight, got stronger, and felt overall much more full of energy and life.  Did he like the results?  You bet he did!  At the time I thought “hmmmm.  That’s interesting”, and filed it in my brain.

Then, a couple of months ago a famous MMA fighter got busted before an event for having testosterone levels above the sanctioned limit.  He blamed it on his doctor not managing his TRT properly (and actually came in the following week after the fight, got his blood tested and his levels were normal).  The consequent outrage in the MMA community that ‘someone got busted taking drugs’, revealed that TRT is actually quite common in MMA fighters, and that the actual sport regulations state that as long as they come in within the limit on testing day, then TRT is ok!  Some of the famous fighters on TRT include Chael Sonnen and Dan Henderson.  I’m sure there are many other athletes in other sports on TRT too.

So this was my second exposure to TRT.  Then today Will Brink had an article up about steriods.  It is quite funny (as well as informative) and I encourage you to read it if you are interested.  Interestingly, in the article he talks about a study done on different groups of males.  Two groups got given testosterone, and then one of those groups did weights (while the other didn’t), and then two groups got a placebo and then one of those groups did weights while the other didn’t. He summarized the results:

The study found that the men who got the testosterone but did not workout gained more muscle than the guys who trained with weights but did not get the testosterone! That’s right, the couch potatoes on steroids gained more muscle than the natural guys training with weights (poor bastards!). Also, the guys who trained with weights but did not get the testosterone, had a big drop in HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) while the guys on steroids had no drop in HDL!

He goes on to talk about the benefits of TRT.  Actually, I found that the Mayo Clinic has a good article on the benefits and side effects.  They state that testosterone helps with:

  • Bone density
  • Fat distribution
  • Muscle strength and mass
  • Red blood cell production
  • Sex drive
  • Sperm production

They also stated that testosterone naturally decreases over time:

Testosterone peaks during adolescence and early adulthood. As you get older, your testosterone level gradually declines — typically about 1 percent a year after age 30.

So TRT certainly seems to be a hot topic at the moment.  I am pretty sure I will get my testosterone levels checked to see what they are, I just don’t know when I’ll get it done.  My choices are to book an appointment at the Anti-Aging clinic and have them do it, or to ask my rheumatologist to add testosterone check to my blood test next time I get my remicade.  Actually I’m tending towards doing it at the Anti-Aging clinic.  It will cost more, but these guys seem to be the experts on whether I actually need it and how it will do my body the best good.

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