The Testosterone Connection – Part III

Many of you have requested an update to the post, “Testosterone Connection Part II“. This series of posts began with the post, “Is “Sex Possible after Prostate Gland Surgery”. That post was followed by the post, ” Prostate Surgery and Sex – the Testosterone Connection” and  finally the post, “The Testosterone Connection Part II“.

The whole series is about my personal experience with prostate cancer – a subject that most bloggers would not touch because of the personal nature of the information. I was hesitant to write on this subject. The reason why I did write these revealing, personal experiences is because I wanted to do something to help eliminate the fear of prostate cancer that most men carry with them for the majority of their lives. Much negative and false information can be found on this subject on the Internet. I wanted to set the record straight and help others in the process. Besides, I have no fear of criticism by others. My life has always been an open book. I’ve been accused for most of my life of “shooting from the hip”. Some people find that abrasive while others appreciate my honesty. So I told the story as it happened, with no fluff and nothing hidden. And I’ll do the same in this post in order to bring you up-to-date.

What Has Been Happening Since Testosterone Part II?

So here’s an update on my experience with testosterone supplementation. It has been an interesting journey. As you know, once a man’s prostate gland is removed, he can produce precious little testosterone. So supplementation is necessary.

There is no other hormone in a man’s body that is as important as testosterone. A male simply cannot live without it. It regulates everything from your heart to blood pressure, mood, energy, and most other vital organ functions. Low testosterone levels will even shorten a male’s lifespan, make him prone to diabetes, depression, heart failure, organ failure, memory loss, and a host of other diseases and life-threatening conditions. Low testosterone, best known as Low-T, is not an option. You must maintain testosterone levels within a youthful range of 300-600 ng/dl (nanograms per deciliter) if you are to have any hope of living a normal life.

Fortunately, there are several options for boosting Low-T . There are many prescription products available. But most if not all of them are new and enjoy brand status, which allows manufacturers to charge whatever they want for these products for at least 7 years after being introduced to the market.  At this point in time, there are no generic testosterone supplement products.

There are a number of plant and food extracts advertised on the Internet as “testosterone boosters”. Tribulus Terrestris is a plant extract that is popular among body builders. But all of these concoctions have been found in the test lab to be totally worthless for boosting testosterone.

Androgel and Axiron are two brand gels that are applied daily to the skin. They are expensive only about 20% of the product is absorbed through the skin, with the other 80% being wasted. A good medical insurance policy with a prescription drug plan, like mine, will let you off the hook for a $50 monthly co-pay for these products. Brand prescriptions carry the highest co-pay on any medical insurance policy. That would be $600/year for one prescription product,  like Androgel, where 80% of the product is wasted. I chose not to go this route.

How Did I Choose to Supplement my Low-T ? 

Testosterone can be injected into muscle mass using a syringe – normally your thigh or buttocks. This alternative cost nothing. Even though I visit my local clinic once per month to have a nurse inject testosterone into a buttocks cheek, I was surprised to learn that my visit and injection cost me nothing. I’ve never received anything free from my local clinic. So this was a shock.

You can be taught to self-inject if you choose. In that event, you will be mailed pre-loaded syringes and will deliver the testosterone into your thigh muscle (since you cannot reach your butt) once every 30 days.

I have self-injected before, but not testosterone. Once you lose your prostate gland and adjacent nerve bundles, a male can no longer get an erection. It’s the loss of the nerve bundles adjacent to the prostate gland that causes this. If the prostate gland is removed and the adjacent nerve bundles are left intact, there is no problem. But these nerve bundles are normally removed as a precaution since it is likely that they are cancerous.

That means that you either give up your sex life, or find an option that will produce an erection. I covered all these options in the post “Is Sex Possible After Prostate Gland Surgery?”. I chose to inject prostaglandin into the side of my penis prior to the sex act and watch the miracle take place. That option lasted for a couple of months and then I decided on an implant, which is also discussed in the same post. So needles don’t bother me.

And the Results of Testosterone Injections Monthly?

Injections are cheap. And visiting my local clinic once a month really is not a bother. My number one complaint with this option is that the results are inconsistent.  Since testosterone controls a man’s mood, demeanor, energy level, appetite, sleep, and just about everything else, consistency is important. What you do NOT want is testosterone highs and lows  that make you feel like a yo-yo with regard to the characteristics that I just mentioned.

This is what happened, and is still happening. Remember, that the normal range of testosterone in a man’s body is 300-600 ng/dl (nanograms per deciliter). My testosterone level was at 195 when I started the monthly injections. I was receiving 200 mg. injections per month.

When you first begin injections, the doctor does not test your testosterone level for about 3 months. Then a test of your resulting testosterone level is conducted. It’s a simple blood test. My first test showed that my testosterone level after three months of injections was a little over 300. That’s good. At least I was within range.

Two months later, a second blood test for my testosterone level was performed. This time my testosterone level was 110; lower than the 195 level that I had before I even began testosterone supplementation! These are the highs and lows that I referred to. They drive you nuts. Remember, that with my testosterone level swinging all over the charts, so is my demeanor, my mood, my energy level, and my appetite and sleep. That was a real problem and tough to deal with.

But there’s more. In order to achieve a more consistent testosterone level, the doctor raised my monthly dosage from 200 mg. to 300 mg.. I only received the 300 mg. dosage once. A blood test performed eight days after the injection showed my testosterone level to be 776. That’s way out of the normal range! They had inadvertently overdosed me.

My body didn’t like that. And what does the body do when it doesn’t like something that has been administered internally? It does whatever it can to get rid of the offending substance. Use your imagination here. It comes out the other end; violently. I had diarrhea and stomach cramps for a week and felt like I had the flu. It wasn’t fun.

So in his infinite wisdom, the doctor reduced my testosterone injections from 300 mg. to 250 mg.; 50 mg. less than the previous injection and 50 mg. more than what I originally started with.  I’ve only had one of those injections to-date. My testosterone level will be tested again on Tuesday September 17th. But I can tell you that one day after the injection of 250 mg. the same things happened that happened after the 300 mg. injection, although the sickness and diarrhea were of shorter duration.

So Now What?

The highs and lows of testosterone supplementation are not doing my body and demeanor any good. I’m done with the experimentation and I’m giving up on the injections. No more being a guinea pig. I do not recommend this option to other men.

I’m going to try the daily testosterone patch, which is just like the patch that folks use to stop smoking. It’s brand and it’s expensive, with a $50 prescription co-pay every month. And just like the testosterone gels, 80% of the product is not absorbed by the skin and is wasted. But it will smooth out the highs and lows of the injections and perhaps allow me to maintain a consistent level of testosterone that is within range. I’ll start those next month and report back to anyone who is interested.

My original statements in this long series of posts still hold true. Men have nothing to fear from prostate issues and cancer as long as the condition is discovered early via yearly PSA tests. The surgery is uneventful. Incontinence after the surgery is rare.  The best option for sex is to get an implant. They are very unobtrusive and convenient. Who else can “pump it up” whenever they like and for as long as they like? On the downside, the surgery is pretty tough. Swelling. Don’t plan on sitting down for a month.

The testosterone connection can be handled. There are many options. I do not recommend injections. If you do nothing for Low-T, you will die at an early age. This is not one of the options.

The references below, refer you back to the long series of posts that I have written on this subject in case you found yourself in the middle of the subject with no background information. There’s also a nice photo gallery.

The Testosterone Connection Part IV will be presented once I have some experience with the testosterone patch.  Hopefully, that will be the final solution and the end of the story. Until that time, I’ll answer the one question that you all are dying to know the answer to – the sex is still good. There, I said it. Are you happy now?

 

References

Is Sex Possible After Prostate Gland Surgery? – published 1/13/2013

Prostate Surgery and Sex – The Testosterone Connection – published 2/27/2013

The Testosterone Connection Part II – published 3/28/2013

Prostate/Surgery/Sex Photo Gallery

19 Responses to The Testosterone Connection – Part III

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