As I posted before, I have secondary hypogonadism. Read more about the difference between primary and secondary hypogonadism here if you don’t already know what that means. Basically, if you have primary hypogonadism (testes are not producing enough testosterone) what you would probably end up doing is taking testosterone for the rest of your life. If you have secondary hypogonadism (testes are fine; problem is elsewhere, such as LH and FSH), taking testosterone will give you primary hypogonadism. However, that doesn’t stop doctors from prescribing testosterone to treat secondary hypogonadism. They are comfortable with the medications available; have seen them work wonders for hypogonadal men; and have probably noticed relatively few side-effects for a huge improvement on quality of life.
But there ARE other options. I’m not talking about taking tribulus or zinc supplements; I mean real treatment alternatives that have been anecdotally shown to help some men return their system to its proper balance. The two I have been reading about are listed below….
#1 – Block Estrogen Production
What I’m doing is taking a drug called Arimidex, which was designed to reduce estrogen in women at risk of, or for early treatment of breast cancer. One of the places on which I’ve found a lot of anecdotal information are the various steroid forums frequented by amateur and professional bodybuilders. A lot of bodybuilders take this drug to combat the side-effects of juicing up with ten times or more of the “natural” levels of testosterone men are supposed to have. The body responds to this much testosterone by making more estrogen (or estradiol to be more precise). I am not doctor, but my understanding is that the male body turns some of the excess testosterone into estrogen. This is called aromatization. Aromatase inhibitors like Arimidex keep that aromatization from happening.
It has been theorized by many in the bodybuilding community, based on limited studies and decades of personal experience, that estradiol is more to blame for shutting down the natural production of testosterone than the actual testosterone that is being injected. It has also been theorized that bringing your body’s estradiol levels to near-zero will stimulate your body to produce more testosterone so that it can aromatize it and make estradiol. Although I’m not going to link out to online steroid conversations, there are lots of threads on bodybuilding forums outlining some of the concept and sharing some anecdotal evidence as to the efficacy of this approach. Use Google and I’m sure you’ll find them. But keep in mind this approach is using a medication for purposes other than what it was intended for, and for purposes which the medication was not tested for.
With full understanding of the above, I am currently trying this alternative with the knowledge and support of my primary care physician. If it doesn’t work within 6 months I will move on to the second alternative below. By the way, an endocrinologist isn’t going to want to let you try this approach. He will claim it has to do with these medications not being tested on men, but given the relatively low risk of side effects (when compared with permanent testosterone replacement) of temporarily taking aromatase inhibitors – my guess is it has more to do with the fact that this could FIX your problem. Then your endo would be out of a job. 😉
#2 – Treat the Problem, Not the Symptom
One of the readers here pointed me to a drug called Menopur. Again, this is a drug for women. It is a fertility drug used to induce the development of multiple eggs and pregnancy in women who are able to produce and release eggs (ovulate). In other words, this is the kind of stuff to blame for Octamoms. But really the active ingredients are two hormones that are produced in men called follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH). These two hormones are responsible for telling your testes to make testosterone. In my case, as is often the case with secondary hypogonadal men, my body is not producing enough of either of these hormones. So why not take THIS drug instead of taking testosterone? Why not replace what I’m missing instead of replacing the hormone that what I’m missing is supposed to be producing?
If one of the two above alternatives to permanent testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) works for me I’ll let you know, at which point I’ll probably give up the blog. If neither works for me I will resign myself to a life of testosterone injections (I’m done with the creams; they give me terrible chest acne, and sometimes boils, not to mention the danger of contaminating surfaces like the faucet and towels, which my wife also touches) and you will have an author here at the testosterone replacement therapy blog for a long, long time…