Is testosterone a steroid? And what is TRT treatment? Is testosterone therapy legal?
These are extremely common and understandable questions from people of all ages and medical backgrounds.
There was a time in medical history not so long ago that the effects of aging were simply taken at face value. While they appeared to manifest in men at different times in their lives, and in varying degrees, it was generally accepted that men past their primes would experience any number of—or all—of the following:
- Accumulation of fat
- Decreased sex drive
- Loss of muscle tone
- Erectile dysfunction
- Anxiety and irritability
However, thanks to today’s intimate understanding of our adrenal systems and how they differ from person to person, we now know that a common underlying cause behind these symptoms in older men is often low testosterone.
We also know that there are treatments that exist to help raise your quality of life should you be diagnosed with low T. One of these, is Testosterone Replacement Therapy, or, TRT. Unfortunately, many men have a misunderstanding of what TRT is and its relationship with something even more medically dubious—anabolic steroids.
Of course, while there are similarities between what we traditionally refer to as “steroids” and testosterone replacement therapy, there are several key differences as well.
TRT vs Steroids: The Differences Between Testosterone Replacement Therapy and Steroids
The term “anabolic steroid” is a bit of a misnomer. Dating back to their origination nearly 100 years ago, anabolic-androgenic steroids were developed for both their muscle-building and male sex hormone characteristics. Their original purpose was indeed to treat hypogonadism—or low testosterone.
Over time, athletes, bodybuilders, and those who did not otherwise suffer from a lack of testosterone, and instead simply wanted to be stronger or gain the aesthetic appeal of bulging muscles began to take steroids as supplements. However, what classifies this dangerous habit as abusive are two key components:
- Lack of medical supervision
Men who are taking steroids for performance enhancement are typically ingesting between 10 and 100 times the amount that would be suggested by physicians. This naturally leads to the secondary issue, which is the lack of professional guidance.
As a result, men taking steroids in this manner tend to experiment with all manner of dosages, frequencies, and sources for the drugs. All of this pales in contrast to the deliberate and steady treatment that is a necessary component of TRT with the guidance of a medically trained professional.
The Side Effects of TRT vs Steroids
Another point of contention when discussing testosterone vs steroids are the potential side effects for each. Many assume that the negative effects of anabolic steroids are shared by those who undergo testosterone replacement therapy.
To be clear, TRT is generally safe for men dealing with hypogonadism due to the low amounts of the hormone that are being introduced into the body. On the other hand, abuse of anabolic steroids can lead to some or all of the following:
- Aggressive attitude
- Breast development
- Cardiovascular issues
- Lowered sperm count
- Organ damage
- Testicular shrinkage
To add to this, addiction is a potential threat—similar to other drugs that affect the chemical makeup of our bodies and minds. On the other hand, TRT can be utilized to help men lead more fulfilling lives, and promote any or all of the following:
- Increased energy
- Increased libido
- Increased muscle tone
- Increased mood
This is because testosterone is responsible for, or plays a part in each of these aspects. Striking the proper ratio requires careful prescription, and for many men, must become a lifetime routine to maintain.
What Are the Risks of Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT)?
All this is not to say that TRT is completely without its own risks. As with most medical treatments, neglecting the right dosages can lead to negative side effects. Some of these are mildly irritating, such as a rash or a constant itchy feeling at the site where the testosterone is administered. There has also been evidence of more concerning results.
However, the following side effects can be avoided by consulting and following the recommendations of a hormone specialist.
For men battling prostate cancer, TRT may worsen the situation. It is recommended that men who have or are at an increased risk of prostate cancer avoid Testosterone Replacement Therapy.
Undergoing TRT may also make sleep apnea more pronounced. The problem here is that this condition is hard to diagnose single-handedly. Your partner can be helpful in this regard, but a full sleep study may be required before beginning treatment to determine whether or not this is a concern.
A warning pertaining to the risk of blood clots in veins is an FDA-mandated requirement on all TRT-related products. This is in addition to the warnings already present regarding a potential abnormal increase in the number of red blood cells as a result of TRT.
These risks aside, it is still exponentially safer to pursue Testosterone Replacement Therapy on the advice of your doctor, as opposed to starting an anabolic steroid habit.
Consult a Medical Professional to Determine If Strict TRT Is Right For Your Needs
Is testosterone a steroid? No.
There are a litany of differences between TRT and the steroids one might ingest in the pursuit of peak athletic performance or vanity. While the benefits of the latter may be tempting, the risks involved generally outweigh them. On the other hand, medically-diagnosed hypogonadism can be treated with a strict TRT program.
If you’re suffering from low testosterone or are considering hormone therapy, the men’s health experts at Preferred Men’s Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale can answer questions and address your concerns based on their extensive knowledge and history. Contact us today to request an appointment with one of our medical professionals for a free consultation.