When it comes to Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) vs. Steroids, many patients will ask us what are the differences, benefits, risks and side effects.
It’s important to first understand what exactly is testosterone and what does it do for men and women. Testosterone, along with other hormones such as estrogens and progesterone are natural steroid hormones found in both men and women.
Testosterone, in males, is primarily produced at the testicular level and by the adrenal glands to a lesser extent. Testosterone production is signaled between the hypothalamus and the pituitary which in effect, tell men’s bodies to produce testosterone at the testicular level. As men age, this production declines steadily as they reach their mid 30’s and beyond. This is often referred to as Andropause in men.
Testosterone, in females, is primarily produced by the ovaries and adrenal glands. Women have a much lower percentage of testosterone than men, but still require this hormone within their normal hormonal matrix. As women age, the production of testosterone can also decline, and in some cases with hysterectomy or the removal of ovaries, they will typically require ongoing hormonal therapy to restore proper hormonal balance. Hormone decline in women is often referred to as peri-menopause or menopause in women.
So what happens when natural testosterone levels decline? Typically, men and women will experience a number of symptoms including reduced sex drive, sexual dysfunction, increased breast size (men), lower sperm count (men), hot flashes, depression, mood swings, loss of muscle mass, loss of strength, thinning hair or hair loss, increasing body fat, chronic fatigue and loss of bone density.
Testosterone therapy helps to reverse these declines and restore both men and women back to their youthful, healthy levels that they once enjoyed in their prime years.
When it comes to risks, testosterone therapy, when managed properly by qualified hormone physician specialists, has proven to reduce health risks for men and women. Recent studies, for example, published by the American Medical Association (JAMA, 2017), found that testosterone treatments were effective in correcting anemia, as well as bone strength and density. Another recent long term 3.4 year follow up study, (JAMA 2017), documented that testosterone replacement therapy was NOT associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular outcome, but instead was associated with a DECREASED risk of cardiovascular events. In fact, low testosterone levels in aging men have been found to increase the risk of coronary artery disease. Thus, testosterone therapy has been found in various studies to provide cardio protective benefits in the long term.
Those who sometimes label testosterone as a “steroid” are correct in that testosterone is a naturally occurring steroid in the body. But there’s a difference between the bioidentical testosterones that medical clinics prescribe vs. what people sometimes buy on the street without a prescription.
Street drugs when it comes to Testosterone or other black market drugs, are not produced in licensed U.S. pharmacies. They are often “cooked up” illegally or imported from countries that do not meet U.S. regulatory testing or FDA licensing requirements. They are high risk, they are illegal. Those who take those types of drugs are typically steroid abusers who have no legal medical oversight, do not use medically prescribed medications from U.S. pharmaceutical FDA licensed pharmacies and take extremely high doses of various drugs to achieve performance enhancement at great health risks.
This is where the confusion lies when it comes to the word “steroids”. There’s physician managed, U.S. pharmaceutical based programs to correct hormonal imbalance and then there’s the drug abusers on the street who buy drugs online or from a friend who knows a friend, etc., often with no real understanding of what they are taking because those street drugs are 1.) illegal, 2.) unregulated and 3.) untested for potency and sterility. That’s a high risk game.
The bottom line is that drug abusers who are taking “steroids” on the street differs dramatically in comparison to Testosterone Replacement therapy within a professional medical treatment protocol. Testosterone Replacement Therapy is a legally accepted medical treatment when supervised by a physician in conjunction with FDA approved, U.S. Licensed and Regulated Pharmacies within a managed medical treatment plan that can positively improve health outcomes in men and women.
When patients are evaluated properly, treated accurately and managed consistently during the course of their programs, patients can experience wonderful improvements in their health and well being. The key is to identify the uniquely positioned hormone replacement specialists who are best equipped and dedicated to ensuring the best results.
RenewFX Health and Wellness