Thankfully, I am getting older. Of course, there are aspects of it I am not too keen on, and I resent the bits that used to work quite well playing up a bit, but it is better than the alternative. Dead right!
It has long been known that women in middle age go through a massive hormonal change which interferes with many aspects of their lives. This has been treated with hormone replacement therapy for decades, with generally good, positive results. But what about us chaps?
Well, we too go through big hormonal changes. The difference is that male hormones don’t change so dramatically in such a short period of time, so their effects are less obvious. Less obvious to all but the fellow experiencing them who is wondering why he isn’t quite as lively and vibrant as he once was, putting it all down to getting older.
Now, on one hand, it IS to do with getting older. Without getting older, the changes would not be experienced, but it is not necessarily a symptom of old age. Or, at least, one that we have to live with.
Allow me to introduce to you Testosterone Replacement Therapy, or TRT.
For a couple of years now, through my interest in bodybuilding, I have become increasingly aware in TRT. Most of the bodybuilding heroes of my youth are in their middle age and have turned to TRT as their natural testosterone levels have dropped. For them, the problem is compounded if they have ever used steroids as their own testosterone production will have ceased or slowed down as the body had an alternate source of the good stuff.
Checking out the symptoms of TRT – low energy, lethargy, weight increase, libido loss, strength decrease, muscle decrease, poor sleep – I realised that I was displaying many of the symptoms of low testosterone. A bit of further internet prodding revealed to me just how the male’s testosterone levels drop with age; by my age (46 at the time of writing) I will have on average almost 50% less testosterone than I did when I was 18. The fact is that testosterone levels start dropping in males late 20s / early 30s.
I went to my doctor. “What do you know about TRT?”, I asked. “TRT? What’s that?”. *sigh* As feared, the UK medical field is about two decades behind that in the USA where TRT is a regular treatment for men in middle and older age. And the results are impressive. Don’t believe me? Just look at those action heroes from the 80s and how, decades later, they are still jacked and able to run around shooting shit. Could your granddad do that when he was in his 70s? The podcaster, Joe Rogan, was another advocate of TRT and he is a jacked MoFo for a guy in his 50s.
After explaining to my doctor what TRT was, and pretty much being dismissed, I decided to find out what options there were on the private market. That was when I discovered a company called Optimale. Before I continue, I want to state that this is NOT an advert for Optimale and I will receive NO compensation for mentioning them. Anyway, the first step was to have some blood tests done. This was done through the mail thanks to a rather aggressive home finger-prick test. The results confirmed that I did, indeed, have low testosterone. Or, more accurately, I had low FREE testosterone. And this is the crucial bit. My actual testosterone levels were in the normal range however, what was high and outside the normal range was my SHBG (sex hormone binding globule). As the name suggests, this binds to the sex hormone (testosterone) making it unusable to me. So, testosterone – SHBG = free testosterone. And, yep, thanks to the SHBG, mine was low.
Now it was known that I was a candidate for TRT, I had to wait for a consultation. This can be done either face-to-face or, if you live in an awkward corner of the country far away from everywhere, like me, via the telephone. It was then that I was prescribed the testosterone gel, Testogel. How did they come up with that name?! I was prescribed two “squirts” a day, rubbed onto my shoulders.
I was warned not to expect immediate results. I did almost immediately feel an increase in energy, but I don’t know if that was a placebo or a sudden leap in a hormone that eventually settled, but that feeling did subside. I stuck with this for a few months and experienced slight physical and mental changes, but nothing so extreme that I could post a before and after photo. I had also been warned that the gel isn’t for everyone as some men don’t absorb it that well so, after those few months, I got back in touch with Optimale who have agreed on the next step in TRT: Sustanon, an injectable form of testosterone. According to the docs and the internet, I would have to be some kind of weird mutant fella not to gain very positive results so, as I sit just a week or so away from my first butt jab, I am optimistic and excited, albeit slightly anxious about self-injection.
There we have it. For now. I hope to add an secondary blog post in a few months with some very positive results. Watch this space, as they say.
The only thing I should mention is the price. It isn’t exactly cheap. Each blood test is £50-£75 (and you need two, to verify the results). The consultation is circa £150. Testogel is just shy of £100 a month, which is about the same as the Sustanon. So it is a financial commitment but, if the potential results are to be believed, it is a commitment I am willing to take.
UPDATE 5th May 2019
Just had my first injection. Vikki did it. For some reason, I am very squeamish about injections, so I bravely froze my bottom with a Pepsi can and awaited my fate. A tiny prick was followed by fluid slowly pumping in (could I make that sound more filthy??). Almost immediately, it started to ache – a bit like if I had knocked it on a door knob – but it’s OK. I think I will survive.