How Well Do You Adhere to Testosterone Replacement Therapy?

Missing or skipping doses will make testosterone replacement therapy less effective.

If your current treatment plan is difficult to follow, your healthcare provider may be able to recommend strategies that can help or prescribe a different treatment.

If you have been diagnosed with low testosterone, you are not alone. Comprehensive data and statistics around low testosterone are difficult to pin down, but the numbers we do have suggest that the condition is common, with some estimates suggesting that it affects almost 40 percent of men over the age of 45 in the United States.

Although common, low testosterone is a different experience for every person. People experience a decrease in testosterone levels at different ages, and low testosterone can have many different causes. For some, it may be the result of aging and lifestyle. For others, it can be caused by another health condition, a medication they are taking, or an injury.

Low testosterone can also cause a variety of symptoms—a decrease in sexual desire and/or sexual function, low moods, loss of muscle mass. These symptoms and their impact on a person’s life will also be a different experience for every person.

Effective treatment options

There are effective treatment options for low testosterone. Treatment is called “testosterone replacement therapy,” or TRT. It works by adding a manufactured testosterone replacement into the body to raise low testosterone levels.

TRT options include gels that are applied to the skin, patches, pills, injections, and pellets that are implanted under the skin where they dissolve and slowly release testosterone into the body.

All TRTs must be prescribed by a healthcare provider, and choosing a TRT involves several important considerations, including the potential risk of side effects, your overall health, and any existing health conditions that you have. The cost of a specific TRT and what you hope to get out of treatment are other important considerations.

Adherence should also be considered

It’s also important to consider how likely you are to follow your dosing schedule exactly as prescribed.

In order to get the most benefit from a medication—whether it’s for low testosterone or any other health condition—you must follow the dosing instructions as close to perfect as possible. A medication is only going to help you if you are able to take it correctly.

Several studies have shown that adherence rates for testosterone replacement therapy can be low. Many people prescribed these medications skip or miss doses, and many eventually discontinue taking their medication.

Researchers find many reasons for low adherence and discontinuation. Medications can be inconvenient to take on a regular basis. The out-of-pocket cost of medications can be too high. Some may stop TRT because of side effects or concerns about side effects. Some may stop medication because it doesn’t seem to be working—while others may stop taking medication because it has worked and they feel better (though TRT is meant to be taken indefinitely).

There is only the best treatment for you

If you have been diagnosed with low testosterone and are taking a TRT, ask yourself how well you are adhering to your current treatment. Pay attention to how often you skip or miss doses—and the reasons why.

This is an important topic to discuss with your healthcare provider. If your current treatment plan is difficult to follow, your healthcare provider may be able to recommend strategies that can help or prescribe a different treatment.

Article sources open article sources

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Duk Han Ko, Seong Eon Kim, and Ji Young Lee. Prevalence of Low Testosterone According to Health Behavior in Older Adults Men. Baseline, 2021. Vol. 9, No. 1.
MedlinePlus. Could you have low testosterone?
Mayo Clinic. Testosterone therapy: Potential benefits and risks as you age.
Mayo Clinic. Male hypogonadism.
U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Why You Need to Take Your Medications as Prescribed or Instructed.
Michael Jay Schoenfeld, Emily Shortridge, Zhanglin Cui, and David Muram. Medication adherence and treatment patterns for hypogonadal patients treated with topical testosterone therapy: a retrospective medical claims analysis. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2013. Vol. 10, No. 5.
Craig Donatucci, Zhanglin Cui, Yun Fang, and David Muram. Long-term treatment patterns of testosterone replacement medications. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2014, Vol. 11, No. 8.
Byeongjin Kang, Maengseok Noh, and Hyun Jun Park. Compliance with Testosterone Replacement Therapy in Patients with Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome: A 10-Year Observational Study in Korea. The World Journal of Men's Health, 2022. Vol. 40, No. 4.

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