Written by Leann Poston, M.D.
Testosterone therapy can relieve many of the side effects of age-associated low testosterone levels. Before starting treatment, most men want to know how long it will take to restore their vigor and how long testosterone therapy lasts.
Hypogonadism, or low testosterone levels, affects approximately 4-5 million men in the United States (Seftel, 2006). Testosterone levels are at their highest during adolescence and early adulthood. After the age of 30 to 40, testosterone production begins to decline at a rate of about 1% per year. According to the Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging, 20% of men in their 60s, 30% of men in their 70s, and 50% of men over the age of 80 have symptoms related to low testosterone levels (Harman, 2001). Low testosterone levels affect up to 4 million American men, yet only about 5% of men with documented low testosterone levels receive treatment (Seftel, 2005).
Knowing these facts may reassure you that you are not alone, but they do not address the issue. It seems simple enough, if you are low on testosterone, whether due to aging or a medical condition, testosterone replacement should alleviate and potentially even reverse your symptoms. Let’s take a look at what symptoms you can expect testosterone therapy to help with and how long most men typically stay on testosterone therapy.
Learn More: What Is Testosterone Replacement Therapy?
Doctors diagnose age-related hypogonadism based on two factors: low testosterone levels and symptoms of low testosterone. Before we get into how long testosterone therapy lasts, let’s look at the recommended lab tests and the symptoms of low testosterone levels.
The American Urological Society defines low testosterone as less than 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl).
Recommended lab tests for men with symptoms of low testosterone:
Testosterone is a hormone that is primarily produced in the testes. It helps maintain and support:
Low testosterone levels are linked to obesity, lower HDL cholesterol, higher LDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, an increased incidence of diabetes, and inflammation, all of which increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (Çatakoğlu, 2017).
The potential benefits of testosterone therapy include increased muscle mass and strength, increased bone density, increased libido and spontaneous erections, improved energy, mood, and motivation, increased red blood cell production, and hair regrowth.
Despite the fact that testosterone injections have been used for decades to treat low testosterone levels, it is difficult to predict when you will notice an improvement in your symptoms. This is because each of us metabolizes medications differently, and the endocrine system is complex. A change in one hormone level can have a domino effect throughout the body, improving some symptoms but worsening others.
Each person who uses testosterone may experience varying degrees and types of side effects and benefits. The signs and symptoms of testosterone deficiency you are experiencing will also vary. As a result, there is no set time frame for when you can expect to see an improvement in your symptoms.
Serum testosterone levels typically rise above the normal range for 1 to 3 days after treatment begins, then gradually decline to the lower end of the normal range over the course of two weeks. Some men may experience symptoms due to the rapid rise and fall of testosterone levels, necessitating a dosage adjustment. The half-life of an I.M. testosterone injection is approximately eight days (FDA, n.d.).
Though we cannot offer a definitive timeline, there has been enough research to map out a guide on when you might expect to see an improvement in your symptoms. Saad et al. developed the following timelines after reviewing available research in a meta-analysis.
If your baseline testosterone level is low and you start testosterone therapy, you could be on it indefinitely. When the therapy is stopped, your testosterone level is expected to fall. When your testosterone levels fall below a certain level, your symptoms may return.
Lifestyle factors can also affect how quickly you notice an improvement in your symptoms. You might be able to speed up the process by:
If your symptoms are consistent with low testosterone levels, the next step in regaining your health is to have your testosterone levels checked. Invigor Medical’s healthcare professionals specialize in men’s health and can help you determine whether testosterone therapy is right for you.
Invigor Medical offers telemedicine appointments with health care providers in your state. If you are interested in learning whether you would be a good candidate for testosterone therapy, here’s how to get started:
A questionnaire such as the Androgen Deficiency in the Aging Male (ADAM) can be helpful in identifying the symptoms of low testosterone levels.
While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.
Harman SM, Metter EJ, Tobin JD, Pearson J, Blackman MR. Longitudinal effects of aging on serum total and free testosterone levels in healthy men. Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2001; 86:724–731.
Seftel, A. Male hypogonadism. Part I: Epidemiology of hypogonadism. Int J Impot Res 18, 115–120 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ijir.3901397
Alp Burak Çatakoğlu, Muammer Kendirci. Testosterone replacement therapy and cardiovascular events. Turk Kardiyol Dern Ars. 2017; 45 (7): 664-672
FDA. (n.d.). Depo-Testosterone. Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2018/085635s040lbl.pdf