Testosterone therapy is definitely one thing I never thought I would ever need. I mean honestly, after puberty I still thought that morning erections were a rare thing and that sex drive came around once per month in a healthy male. Needless to say I now know that was not normal, but it took me a while to figure it out. I had to hit rock bottom to even know that something was really off, and then take a medication to know that it was possible to feel horny all the time. For that I am grateful, but the fact of the matter is, my body was in that low T state for a reason, be it trauma, be it inflammation, or whatever it was, and it was not ready for a high testosterone state. I had to learn that the hard way.

What I experienced with Testosterone

In my mid 20’s I had a bit of a realization as it pertained to sex drive. I was working full time, in grad school full time, and in a committed relationship with a man that desired a lot of sex. Still, to his dismay, my lover and I had sex about once a month. I thought, if it wasn’t going to change, then my relationship was going downhill due to my lack of sexual interest. One day I noticed that I was severely fatigued and so I checked in with my PCP. She diagnosed me with hypogonadism, or in other words lower than normal testosterone, and referred me to a urologist. He explained that I was lower than a 70 year old man, and that I could take TRT to help boost my levels back up. I had no idea what that meant, and had no clue as to what it entailed, but they offered me a fast solution and I took it. 

I began a journey on testosterone replacement therapy that lasted for about 3 years. Yet, those 3 years on TRT was by no means a smooth ride. My first 4 months I was prescribed too little and experienced nothing at all, in fact my testosterone decreased during that period. So I switched to a new testosterone specialist who then quadrupled my dose, producing a far more intense affect. Within a few weeks I was waking up with morning erections, gaining muscle, and thinking more clearly. It all felt good and amazing, yet I was still experiencing something I never expected. My appetite was out of control. 

My TRT Induced Eating Disorder

After about a month I started bingeing uncontrollably and found it almost impossible to stop myself from eating. I started having awful stomach issues, bloating, cramps, water retention, and awful anxiety and was becoming very concerned. The doctor had never seen anything like it and had no idea what to do. Frankly, it was so debilitating that I had to take medical leave from work and attend an outpatient program for binge eating disorders. I was losing control of my body, and was desperate to get help.

Finally, one day, I had an epiphany that it could be a side effect of my testosterone medication. I asked my doctor and he suggested it was unlikely, but I decided to cut back on it anyways. I cut my dose in half and within a few months I was feeling back to my normal self again. Go figure! I was leaning up, my appetite started to feel normal again, I was satisfied with my meals, and I started to feel like I had control over my body once more. At least, so I thought. 

The Aftermath of ED on My Body

I was excited to have a normal appetite, but I was still dealing with the aftermath of a horrendously excessive intake of food. I started having weird reactions to foods like brain fog and fatigue, and I was getting more and more sensitive to supplements and over the counter meds. One time I remember I was taking some NAC and B12 and started breaking out in hives! Clearly my immune system was still very pissed off. 

My next step was to check my gut health and detoxification pathways and see if anything in particular showed up. I ran a few tests by Genova Diagnostics and discovered that I had parasites, dysbiosis, heavy metal toxicity, and a major deficiency of glutathione and glycine. Both of these are used in the detoxification of testosterone, thus this was proof enough that something was still very off.

Fast forward a few years and nothing had really improved, in fact, it had only gotten worse. I was now experiencing asthma after eating and even after exercising, I had aweful allergies that never went away, and still reacted in all kinds of weird ways to foods and supplements. I had noticed that my acne had gotten way worse, I would get pissed off and over react a lot, and I gained a lot of unwanted body weight that felt like inflammation. At this point I was 2 years into my masters of nutrition so I was widely aware of the possibilities at hand. Yet, I had asked every question and ran every test, and still was unable to get any relief. 

The Final Straw

One day, I had a terrible reaction to my TRT and it changed my perspective forever. I had been drinking coffee and feeling a bit over caffeinated. I was also exceptionally stressed out about a client meeting I was about to have. Then as I always had, I proceeded to inject my 2nd testosterone dose for the week which was only 30 mg at this point. I got in my car and started driving to my sister’s house, when out of nowhere I felt like I was going to pass out and started feeling woozy. Naturally, I started panicking thinking that I was going to pass out at the wheel. So I drove really slow and had to get my mom on the phone. I had no idea what it was, but I knew in my heart that TRT was not working with my body. 

I fought my intuition for another 3-4 months before I finally took my last dose of TRT. I weaned off very slow and did my best to keep my health in check. The first month was rough and I felt depressed and sexually very dull. Yet after a little while I started getting back into the gym, was eating as healthy as I could, and slowly started getting my sex drive back. Frankly, I wasn’t really having a lot sex to begin with, but I had a much better chance now than ever haha. 

As expected, I started to notice some health improvements. The most noticeable shift was that I stopped having those weird dizzy spells whenever I would take a dose of TRT. However, I also noticed that I had less acne, less water retention, a healthier mindset and attitude, and was feeling more like my good ole self. 

To this day I still struggle with LPR, adverse food reactions and detoxification issues. I have a multitude of residual inflammation and struggle to handle stress. Yet, at least I had found one major puzzle piece to this health mystery. My body was not built for or ready for high testosterone loads. At least not the type I was taking as a medication.

The Underlying Issue

So what was the issue? Why did my journey take a turn for the worse? Why did my body reject the testosterone and produce these rare and abnormal reactions to it? To this day I am not totally certain. However, I do know that the axis of the liver, the immune system, and the adrenals had something to do with it.

I was diagnosed with laryngopharyngeal reflux and multiple food intolerances causing my diet induced asthma and brain fog. I had what seemed like a salicylate intolerance, histamine related symptoms, and sulfur sensitivity. I was also diagnosed with vasovagal syncope which seemed to be causing my dizzy spells upon each TRT injection. The parasite infections and heavy metals I had found on labs most likely produced the initial loads of inflammation that pushed me over the edge. More than likely there was also some genetic issues involved, knowing that I have some SNPs in my detoxification pathways making me more susceptible to a buildup of toxic metabolites in the liver. Add in a shit ton of stress and anxiety and you’ve got a perfect recipe for metabolic mayhem.    

Takeaways

So is testosterone safe? I have a lot more to say on that topic than will be said here and now… but from my experience, and the experiences I have gleaned from a multitude of clients, is that TRT is not the magic pill many doctors make it out to be. The body is complex, and there’s a multitude of factors that, when combined with too much testosterone, could induce an irreversible devastation to the fragile functioning of the immune and nervous systems. Factors such as how much stress one is subjected to, how much inflammation one has developed, as well as metabolic and genetic factors in detoxification are crucial to evaluate before anyone starts to inject exogenous hormones into their bodies.  

Do I think TRT is bad for everyone? Of course not! There’s a multitude of research articles displaying the many benefits of TRT and it’s importance in health care and men’s health. It’s just that not everyone in those studies had great outcomes and some, like me, had worse. So you have to remember that everyone is different, and not everyone is in the right place and the right health to handle it. This is all I hope to convey in my future blogs, and hopefully it will spread a little bit of relief to people who are confused and on the fence about starting a journey on TRT. 

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