Can You Stop Taking Testosterone?
The Effects of Stopping Testosterone Replacement Therapy
When beginning testosterone replacement therapy, the question of how long you’ll need to continue the treatment often comes up. The short answer is that once testosterone replacement therapy is started, it is a treatment that will need to be continued long term. If you stop treatment, testosterone levels will fall, and you’ll begin to experience the symptoms you had before treatment.
Let’s explore in more detail the importance of continuing testosterone replacement therapy and the effects you may experience if you stop.
Why Would You Need Testosterone Replacement Therapy?
Testosterone replacement therapy is indicated if you have low testosterone levels that are causing unpleasant symptoms. Testosterone levels are essential for many different reasons. Testosterone levels can begin to decline as early as age 25-30 and will continue to slowly decrease throughout a man’s life. Testosterone is primarily produced in the testicles but also in small amounts through the adrenal glands.
Testosterone affects men’s appearance and sexual development. It stimulates sperm production, drives libido, and builds muscle and bone mass. Normal levels of testosterone are protective against diabetes, heart problems, hypertension, cancer, and obesity. When testosterone levels are optimal, it is easier to maintain a normal balance of muscle mass. Testosterone impacts the production of muscle mass and the storage of fat.
Symptoms of low testosterone
Symptoms you may experience if testosterone levels are low include:
- Reduced sex drive
- Decreased lean muscle mass
- Irritability or mood changes
- Erectile dysfunction
While testosterone replacement therapy is not “addictive,” your body will become accustomed to functioning with testosterone levels within a specific range. If testosterone replacement is stopped and testosterone levels fall, you’ll begin experiencing low testosterone symptoms again.
Risks of stopping testosterone replacement abruptly
It’s not advisable to abruptly stop testosterone replacement therapy as symptoms may come on very quickly and cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms, including:
- Decreased muscle mass
- Increased fat
- Thinning hair
- Loss of sex drive
- Trouble concentrating
If you desire to stop testosterone therapy, it’s best to do this under the guidance of a healthcare professional. When weaning testosterone replacement slowly, you can still expect a return of prior symptoms of low testosterone, but these will occur more gradually, giving your body time to adjust.
Why would you need to stop testosterone therapy?
If the benefits of testosterone therapy are so great, why would you want to stop therapy? As with all treatments, some medical conditions require avoidance of certain medications. Unfortunately, if you develop the following, you may be advised to stop testosterone replacement:
- Elevated PSA levels
- Prostate cancer
- Breast cancer
- Severe urinary tract problems
- Untreated severe sleep apnea
- Uncontrolled heart failure
- Polycythemia (a blood condition resulting in too many red blood cells)
In these cases, work with your healthcare provider to determine the best way to stop therapy while reducing symptoms.
Many treatment options are available
The good news is there are many methods for administering testosterone replacement therapy. Testosterone replacement can be given with topical creams, injections, or pellets. At Vitality Aesthetic and Regenerative Medicine, we work with you to ensure the therapy fits your goals and lifestyle to ensure optimal results that you’ll want to continue.
If you are having side effects related to testosterone replacement therapy or are not satisfied with the current method of administration, it’s best to speak with your healthcare provider about alternatives or how to stop safely. Avoid stopping testosterone replacement “cold turkey,” or you are likely to experience unpleasant symptoms.