Testosterone Replacement: Why Monitoring is Essential
Posted: April 9, 2021
After a low T diagnosis, you might wonder what happens next with your testosterone replacement treatment. Monitoring is especially important to help you feel great and get customized treatment for your needs. Monitoring helps our team help you get the most out of your treatment.
How Does Testosterone Replacement Monitoring Work?
So, how exactly does monitoring work when you have low testosterone and start testosterone therapy? A lot of this depends on your specific situation and overall health. However, we typically start by evaluating your baseline health through blood panels, a physical, and more. This helps our providers establish where you are health-wise before starting testosterone replacement therapy. We use these initial numbers to keep track of your health and testosterone levels.
Our team monitors your health and treatment throughout testosterone therapy. Generally, we start off by seeing you at least once every three months to run some simple tests and bloodwork. We call these quarterly labs. This helps with treatment optimization and helps us determine if testosterone injections are working well for you. After we help optimize your treatment plan and your health looks stable, we may recommend doing these labs annually.
Treatment monitoring when you start testosterone injections may look something like this for you:
- Screenings before injections
- Blood pressure
- General health questionnaire
- Discuss any symptoms and side effects
- Quarterly labs
- Testosterone levels
- Blood counts
- PSA tests
- Annual exams
- Physical exam
- Full blood panel
- General health strategizing
However, our team may customize monitoring based on your specific situation. For example, if you’re at a higher risk for certain conditions, we may recommend more frequent monitoring to help us detect any potential risks earlier. Our provider will work with you to determine a good monitoring schedule that is tailored to your needs.
Dosage Optimization for Low Testosterone
One important reason why our team monitors testosterone replacement treatments is to help optimize your dosage. How much testosterone you need depends on a lot of different factors, and we need to find the right dose to help you maintain healthy levels.
Because we use testosterone injections to treat low testosterone, we have additional control over your dosage. This means we can adjust up or down as needed to help you feel your best. For example, let’s say you start testosterone, but you’re still having symptoms of low T. In this case, we may increase the dose or the frequency of injections to help you feel better.
Unlike other types of testosterone treatments, like pellets, injections allow us to adjust and optimize your dose more quickly. With testosterone pellets, a doctor surgically implants the number of pellets they believe will help you feel better. However, if those levels get too high or too low, you have to wait for the next procedure to adjust the dose. For perspective, that means waiting typically about three to four months before the doctor can make changes to help you feel your best.
By contrast, most of our patients get testosterone injections every seven to ten days, which means we can optimize the dose sooner and more often as needed. In many cases this level of management and control helps patients feel better sooner. In addition, with each injection we can ask you a few questions for treatment monitoring, whether in person or through our proprietary app for at-home treatments. Therefore, we can get more information more often about how you’re feeling and your symptoms to help inform your treatment.
What Do We Monitor During Testosterone Replacement Therapy?
So, what exactly do we look at while you’re on a testosterone treatment regimen? While this might be customized to you, there are a few things we generally look at for most patients, like:
- Blood pressure
- Testosterone levels
- Signs of side effects
- Blood counts
- Prostate-specific antigen
Blood Pressure Checks Before Testosterone Injections
Whether you take part in in-office treatments or at-home testosterone injections, we typically test your blood pressure before each injection. With in-office treatments, one of our team will do this for you. For those on the at-home program, we give you a special blood pressure cuff that connects to our smart phone app for testosterone treatment monitoring.
But why test your blood pressure before each injection?
You may have noticed that pretty much every time you go to the doctor, whether for a regular physical or for a suspected illness, you get your blood pressure checked. There are a few reasons for this. First, it’s a pretty good marker for overall health and it only takes a few moments to check. Also, regular blood pressure information over time can help detect potential issues, such as heart conditions or other health problems.
Blood pressure checks may also help us detect side effects of testosterone therapy. For example, testosterone can increase red blood cell production, even leading to too many of the cells in your blood. This is called polycythemia and can make your blood thicker than normal, which increases your risks for some other conditions. High blood pressure is one potential sign of this condition, which is another reason our team monitors blood pressure before each testosterone injection.
Testosterone Level Testing
Also, just like we did for diagnosing low testosterone, we’ll also look at the testosterone levels in your blood throughout treatment. This is to help inform proper doses.
In most cases, we have a goal for testosterone levels in mind for your treatment. For most men, it’s the middle range of normal levels (though this also depends on your unique circumstances). For the first year or so after starting testosterone replacement, we generally recommend monitoring testosterone levels once a quarter. If they remain stable, we may recommend testing once a year. This helps inform your dosage and helps us keep track of where you are with your treatment.
Symptom & Side Effect Monitoring
Our providers also monitor any symptoms or side effects you might experience. For example, we usually ask about symptoms before every injection, whether through our app or in-person. This is to help us determine how effective your current treatment plan is. We also monitor for side effects that might indicate we need to re-evaluate your treatment plan.
This is generally just a quick questionnaire about how you’re feeling, as well as conversations with our providers during quarterly labs and annual exams. We’re here to help you feel great, so we want to hear from you about how you feel, not just look at test results on your chart!
In addition, our team takes regular blood counts while you’re taking testosterone. One potential side effect of testosterone is having too many red blood cells in your blood, as we mentioned above. Testing blood counts regularly can help us detect signs of this potential side effect. If your counts are higher than normal, then we may need to lower doses or talk about other treatment options for low testosterone.
PSA Tests During Testosterone Replacement
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing is also an important part of monitoring your testosterone treatment plan. It’s important to note that studies haven’t found evidence that testosterone therapy increases your risk for prostate cancer, but it can stimulate growth for existing cancer. One way to screen for prostate cancer is with PSA testing, so in many cases we monitor this during your treatment, depending on your risk factors.
The Importance of Annual Exams for Men’s Health Management
Regular monitoring is important to help inform your treatment. This monitoring also includes annual exams for an overall health checkup. Getting an annual exam is essential for all men, and we highly recommend it for our testosterone replacement patients as well.
Part of men’s health management is getting regular screenings for common health conditions. An annual exam includes health screenings for things like heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and so much more. This helps you take care of your overall health!
In addition, we may recommend lifestyle changes to help you stay healthy. Staying on top of your overall health can also help your low testosterone treatment plan.
Customized Healthcare from Low T Center
Our team at Low T Center offers advanced healthcare solutions customized to you. We’re reinventing men’s health care to be convenient, affordable, and simple so it’s easy to take care of your health! We offer treatment services for a wide range of conditions, from hormone deficiencies to sleep apnea. Book your appointment today to talk to one of our providers about your health!
Disclaimer: This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of Low T Center. You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.