What I Do for TRT Induced High Red Blood Cell Count
Testosterone replacement therapy can increase hemoglobin and hematocrit production beyond normal/safe levels, a condition known clinically as polycythemia. If you are on TRT it is important to be regularly tested for this condition, as it may increase the risk of thrombosis and stroke.
Hemoglobin is an iron-containing biomolecule that can bind oxygen, and is responsible for the red color of blood cells. Hematocrit levels refer to the percentage of blood volume occupied by red blood cells. The test I get is a red blood cell (RBC) count, which measures the number of red blood cells per volume of blood and includes readings for both hemoglobin and hematocrit.
If your test results come back abnormally high, treatment options given by the doctor might involve lowering your testosterone dosage or discontinuing your hormone therapy. Personally, neither of these is an acceptable option so I opt for a third: Donating Blood. The doctor could theoretically prescribe a therapeutic phlebotomy (draining some of your blood, which would be destroyed instead of donated). However, it is not a widely adopted practice and is unlikely to be prescribed. Besides that, I’d rather my blood be donated to someone in need.
Can You Donate Blood if You Take Testosterone?
The Red Cross form you fill out will ask if you take any injectable drugs, and may even specifically mention testosterone, but the fine print says “Without a prescription” so you can answer “No” to that question. As long as you are taking doctor prescribed testosterone for hormone replacement (Not 500mg + every week like a bodybuilder) it should be OK to donate because there is only a normal amount of testosterone in the blood stream.
I donate blood to the Red Cross about once every three or four months. If they have the facilities at the donation center I’ll even opt for a Double Red Blood Cell Donation, and it feels much like I’d imagine an oil change might feel to a sentient vehicle.
Click Here to find a Red Cross blood donation opportunity near you.