Testosterone drives many important processes in your body. Though labelled as a male sex hormone, the function of testosterone goes beyond enhancing sex drive. This key hormone helps to regulate mood, energy, bone mass, red blood cell production, and fat distribution, apart from increasing muscle mass and strength.
As you advance in age, your levels of testosterone naturally dwindle. Science suggests that testosterone levels decrease by an average of 1-2% each year in adult men. This gradual decline in testosterone levels can be accompanied by various symptoms, such as low energy levels and diminished sex drive.
One possible way to combat the effects of decreasing testosterone levels is by receiving testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).
Wondering if TRT is right for you? Continue reading to find out what TRT is, what its benefits are, who it's suitable for, and how to get TRT in Australia.
Testosterone replacement therapy, also known as TRT, is a form of hormone replacement therapy that aims to restore healthy levels of testosterone in the body.
It is primarily administered to men who have hypogonadism and are experiencing symptoms of low testosterone, also called low T.
Male hypogonadism refers to a condition in which the testicles do not produce a sufficient amount of testosterone to carry out all the essential roles in the body.
As a result, men suffering from low testosterone experience a wide range of side effects such as low energy, low motivation, low mood, low sex drive and fat gain.
In Australia, TRT is approved for treating men diagnosed with hypogonadism or low testosterone levels.
However there are quite strict requirements that you have to meet before you can get TRT prescribed in Australia.
To get a proper diagnosis and prescription for TRT in Australia, you need to undergo blood tests and health assessments to determine if treatment is suitable. Generally you would need two separate low testosterone readings.
When going through a private TRT clinic in Australia, free testosterone levels of 330 pmol/L or below across two blood tests could mean that you are eligible for TRT in Australia.
There are two main ways you can be prescribed TRT legally in Australia.
Firstly, you can have your condition reviewed and bloodwork conducted through a private TRT Clinic that specialises in treating low T.
One example of such a clinic is Enhanced Men's Clinic, where a qualified team of Australian health professionals and specialists provide comprehensive care and treatment to those experiencing symptoms of low testosterone.
Enhanced Men's Clinic offers treatment services throughout Australia, including Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, and Melbourne. Their clinic is telehealth based, meaning no in person visits are required.
Often, private clinics provide comprehensive services that get you from start to finish—from ensuring you get the necessary lab work done and assessing your overall condition to prescribing treatment and monitoring for side effects and treatment response. You'll also have regular bloodwork performed throughout your treatment, usually every 4-6 months, to ensure your treatment plan is working well.
In general, getting TRT through a private clinic is straightforward, quick, and streamlined. Plus, certain clinics offer care and treatment through telemedicine, making the process even more convenient for patients.
Most patients who are on TRT go through private TRT clinics as the quality of care is much higher, treatment protocols are more effective, and it is easier to get prescribed compared to a GP who has no experience in TRT.
You may opt to try and get TRT through your GP in Australia. The most significant benefit of this route is the lower cost if your treatment is subsidised by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
However, you must meet specific criteria to qualify for this subsidy. For instance, your blood testosterone levels will have to be lower than a certain level (6 nmol per litre) based on your blood tests. The 6 nmol/l benchmark is considered extremely low since many men experience symptoms even when their testosterone levels are twice that amount.
Your GP will also have to refer you to a recognised specialist before you can access PBS-subsidised testosterone therapy. You will have to see this specialist yourself, and your GP cannot call up or contact the specialist to get treatment approved on your behalf.
If you don't meet the criteria for PBS subsidy, you can still obtain testosterone replacement therapy through this route, but at the full cost. However, most GPs will not prescribe testosterone as they are not properly trained like a TRT clinic doctor.
There are specific procedures and steps to follow to attain access to TRT in Australia. That said, getting treated through a private clinic is generally a time-efficient and straightforward process. Here's what the general process looks like if you plan on getting TRT from a private clinic like Enhanced Men's Clinic:
There are various ways you can receive TRT. They are as follows:
In general, TRT is most frequently administered through injectables, skin patches, or gel.
Each form of administration has its pros and cons.
Long-acting testosterone injections are administered once every two to four weeks when prescribed by a GP. However TRT clinics in Australia know that to achieve more stable levels, tow injections per week is best. These injections allow an external source of testosterone to be released into the blood circulation gradually, leading to a sustained and stable maintenance of testosterone levels.
Your TRT specialist will also be able to adjust your dosing based on your treatment response and ensure you consistently receive the custom dosing that works best for you. This is because testosterone injections tend to have a more predictable absorption rate.
A topical gel is easy to apply, painless, and suitable for those with a phobia of needles. The gel is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, and various factors can affect the gel's absorption rate. Sweating, showering, the site of application, and other factors can change how much testosterone enters your bloodstream. This might lead to fluctuations in your testosterone levels.
People who opt for a testosterone gel will also have to avoid skin-on-skin contact with other people for at least 6 hours to ensure the medication isn't transferred to someone else.
If you're unsure which form of testosterone is more suitable for you, you can consult a specialist or healthcare provider. Most patients who are on TRT in Australia opt for self administered injections due to the benefits and better response.
If you have low testosterone, you might notice the following symptoms:
In the long run, low T can also lead to a host of health problems.
For instance, researchers have found that low testosterone and metabolic syndrome are closely associated. Metabolic syndrome is a medical term used to describe the combination of high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. Essentially, science suggests that low testosterone levels can increase your risk of developing these conditions, which, in turn, puts you at a greater risk of heart disease.
Because testosterone plays a crucial role in maintaining bone mineral density and bone health, low levels of this hormone might also contribute to the development of osteoporosis.
Combine those two symptoms with a loss of physical strength, and it’s clear that as you age having low testosterone levels would lead to a low quality of life.
Almost 40% of men aged 45 and older have low testosterone. This likelihood of having low T increases as you get older.
Apart from your age, other factors can affect how likely you are to have this condition. They include the following:
Some of the above factors are modifiable or reversible. For instance, a person on steroids for a long time might see their testosterone levels naturally recover after a few months of stopping the medication. And for some men once their weight is under control, they can see their levels increase - however losing body fat can be difficult when suffering from low testosterone.
If you have low testosterone, TRT may benefit you in various ways.
Low testosterone can lead to symptoms like lower libido, reduced energy, and poor mood. Thus, increasing the amount of testosterone in your bloodstream may help to reduce some of these symptoms.
The following are the possible benefits of TRT:
The benefits and efficacy of TRT will differ from one person to another. The dose and route of administration may also affect treatment outcomes. That said, most men generally find that TRT can effectively help with mood, energy, and libido.
Look out for symptoms that could suggest you have this condition. Low energy levels, decreased sex drive, reduced motivation and confidence, and changes in your mood could all be signs of low T.
If you are experiencing symptoms suggestive of low testosterone, it's best to get the necessary bloodwork done.
Your specialist or physician may order blood tests that measure the levels of one or more of the following:
Additionally, you may need to get the following tests done before starting on TRT:
The results from all these different tests will allow your specialist to assess your overall health, eligibility for TRT, and whether low testosterone is the likely cause of your symptoms.
Enhanced Men's Clinic is one private clinic that guides you through the process of testing and only prescribes TRT to men who genuinely need it.
In general, the annual cost of TRT, including medications, checkup and consultation fees, and blood testing, ranges from $1700 to $2,400. These costs may vary based on the dose, type of medication, and route of administration, as well as whether your insurance plan covers your treatment. Doctor, specialist, and laboratory fees may also influence the total cost of your treatment.
Getting proper testing, consultation, and treatment for low testosterone can be a quick and convenient process in Australia. Private clinics, like the Enhanced Men's Clinic, often have a streamlined process that allows you to get comprehensively assessed for low testosterone. If you are diagnosed with the condition, you can also opt to have your medications delivered to your doorstep.
TRT is prescribed to men diagnosed with hypogonadism or low testosterone levels who experience symptoms related to that condition. If your total testosterone levels are less than 8 nmol/l, these results typically support a diagnosis of hypogonadism. In contrast, testosterone levels greater than 12 nmol/l are likely to be in the normal range, however if free testosterone is under 330 pmol/L then you could be eligible for TRT.
You'll have to undergo the necessary bloodwork to determine your testosterone levels. Your doctor may also order other tests to assess your health condition, including kidney and liver function tests and a full blood count. Once your bloodwork is complete, your physician will also ask about your symptoms, medical history, and other medical conditions to check your eligibility for a TRT prescription. You can undergo this process to get a prescription either at a private clinic or through your GP.
There's no single age by which a person is recommended to start TRT. Some men may require TRT in their mid-20s or 30s, while others may only begin to experience symptoms of low testosterone well in their 50s. Of course, the older you are, the higher your risk of having low T.
TRT may worsen male breast cancer, prostate cancer, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in men. It might also lead to acne, reduced sperm count, or disturbed breathing while sleeping, which is known as sleep apnea. Your specialist or physician will monitor your response to TRT through blood tests and regular checkups.
Yes, TRT is legal in Australia if a doctor prescribes it for medical and health reasons. You will need to undergo proper blood testing and health assessment checks to ensure that this treatment is suitable for you. Enhanced Men's Clinic only recommends TRT to men who truly need it to improve their well-being. Your condition will be assessed by an experienced specialist who will also be able to recommend a suitable regimen based on your test results, treatment goals, and preferred route of administration.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is intended for informational and educational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a qualified healthcare professional. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any health problem. Always consult with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet, exercise, medication regimen, or any other health-related behaviors. Your personal health situation should always be overseen by a healthcare provider who can provide you with tailored health advice.