Thousands of men experience symptoms of low testosterone, otherwise known as low T, every year. The natural consequences of this hormone disruption aren’t always openly discussed—but they should be. Low sex drive, muscle loss, and diminished energy are just a few of the experiences that are common to men who have low T, and these uncomfortable symptoms can be easily and safely treated through testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).
There’s only one problem: when some men learn about the possibility of taking testosterone to relieve their symptoms, they immediately think of anabolic steroids and all the negative press that goes with them. They’re not wrong to make that connection. Testosterone medications and anabolic steroids can contain similar or even identical chemical compounds. But their uses, doses, risks, and safety concerns are vastly different.
While some of the ingredients may be identical, the difference between testosterone therapy and steroids is clear: TRT is a medically supervised treatment that helps men achieve normal levels of testosterone and improve their quality of life. Steroids are used illegally and at dangerously high doses to pursue greater muscle mass and athletic performance.
Rest assured: If you’re using testosterone with the guidance of a certified medical provider, you’ll be able to safely treat symptoms of low-T without the risks associated with testosterone abuse.
Understanding Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids
To really understand the difference between TRT and steroids, we need to dive deeper into anabolic-androgenic steroids and their uses. (Anabolic, meaning “muscle building.” Androgenic, meaning “developing male characteristics.”)
Anabolic steroids are illegal in the United States. These performance-enhancing drugs are made from synthetic androgens—including testosterone—but they’re often “stacked” with other chemicals that are believed to augment performance even further. Because they can’t be obtained legally, many athletes source their steroids from international pharmacies that don’t have the same purity and safety regulations as American pharmacies. Users order whichever drugs they choose at whichever dose they determine is necessary, without counsel or oversight from a medical professional. This use pattern is only one dangerous difference between steroids and TRT.
The primary goal of taking anabolic steroids is to build muscle mass and increase recovery speed between workouts. To reach their desired strength and performance level, users take far more than the recommended dose of androgens (even up to 100x) and push their bodily testosterone levels into the supra-physiological range.
When abused like this, testosterone and other androgens can have damaging effects on the body. “Roid rage,” or an increase in aggressive behavior, is common. Other observed side effects include acne vulgaris, breast development, mental health disorders, reduced sperm count, cardiovascular disease, and liver cancer. However, when testosterone is used within the context of an approved therapeutic dose, as in testosterone replacement therapy, it carries a much lower risk of side effects.
How Testosterone Therapy is Different
TRT is designed specifically to restore the body’s natural testosterone levels to the high end of the normal range. These drugs were initially developed to help men recover from hypogonadism, delayed puberty, cancer, or surgery, and they are now instrumental in helping millions of men maintain health and quality of life.
If you’re seeking testosterone replacement therapy from a qualified physician, you’re probably looking to alleviate some or all of the following symptoms:
- Low Libido or Sex Drive
- Weight Gain
- Sleep Apnea
- Muscle Loss
- Urinary Problems
Empirical evidence consistently shows that TRT can successfully alleviate these and other symptoms. It’s safe, effective, and simple to administer. But more importantly, this therapy helps men regain their confidence and their sense of overall wellness. You can’t put a price on self-assurance—and if you’ve been searching for a way to feel virile and alive again, TRT may be the solution for you.
Starting Testosterone Replacement Therapy
If you are struggling with low-T and are considering testosterone therapy to help alleviate your symptoms, you don’t need to worry about your medication being confused with performance-enhancing drugs. By consulting with a licensed medical practitioner, you’ll be obtaining or using testosterone or other androgens safely, legally, and within the guidelines of a medical prescription.
To learn more about testosterone therapy and how it can help you feel like yourself again, we recommend partnering with a highly qualified doctor in your area who specializes in hormone health. This practitioner will thoroughly discuss your symptoms and perform a variety of tests to assess your hormone levels before prescribing a testosterone medication that works for you.
TRT is usually administered via pellets or injections, but not as pills, as they have not been shown to be effective and/or safe. Topical testosterone, while often prescribed, has to get absorbed through the skin, so often does not give the same results as pellets or injections which get right into the bloodstream
The difference between testosterone therapy and steroids is a matter of intention and outcome. The same hormones may be used in both—but if you’re struggling with the symptoms of low T, you can rest assured knowing that testosterone replacement therapy is a safe and medically-approved treatment that can help improve your quality of life.
Reach out to the BodyLogicMD network to get started with testosterone replacement therapy. BodyLogicMD-affiliated practitioners are certified to practice holistic hormone health and integrative medicine and are dedicated to helping men reach their optimal level of health. These highly regarded professionals specialize in creating comprehensive, individualized treatment plans that include hormone medications, nutrition counseling, and lifestyle recommendations for a well-rounded plan of action. With help from your practitioner, you’ll feel confident and supported in your journey toward finding balance in your body and in your life once again. Contact a local practitioner in your area to get started. Or, consider taking the BodyLogicMD Hormone Balance Quiz to learn more about how low testosterone may be impacting you and your daily life.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. All content on this website is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases.
Charlotte is a patient care coordinator specializing in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. She is committed to helping patients who struggle with the symptoms of hormonal change and imbalance explore their treatment options and develop effective strategies to optimize wellness.