Since I posted the second part of my life story, a few guys have reached out to ask about hormone health in general, and testosterone replacement (TRT) more specifically. This is a super important topic that I don’t think gets enough attention, especially as it relates to younger guys, so I decided to dedicate one of my first posts to talking about it. Before I get into some specifics on how TRT has benefitted me, I want to expand on the story of why I started thinking about hormone health.
As I talked about in my life story post, I’ve been on a long journey of self-improvement that started during my college years. But I didn’t start paying real attention to my physical health until after college, when I got serious about lifting weights, eating right, and building muscle. By spring of 2019 I had gained about 70 lbs while staying almost at my original body fat percentage. Not only was I looking better than ever, I was feeling better than ever. The depression and anxiety that would sometimes hit me during high school and college had all but disappeared. I was proud of the way I looked, which in turn made me feel more confident, and improved every aspect of my life, from sex and dating to friendships.
Then for some reason, around late spring of 2019, my mental state started to change. The change didn’t happen all at once. At first, it was so gradual that I wrote it off as the normal, day-to-day ups and downs of life. I’d notice myself feeling a little more on edge than usual, feeling a little less confident than usual, and with a lower sex drive than usual. Then the physical symptoms started. My appetite got smaller and smaller. I used to be able to demolish 3500 calories a day when I’ve been bulking, but now I got nauseated after a normal sized meal. My energy in the gym had pretty much gone to shit. I felt myself getting weaker, and my motivation to workout had never been lower. Social interactions filled me with anxiety, not because of social anxiety, but because I couldn’t stop my mind from wandering and finding new things to make me anxious or depressed. My sex drive also continued to tank. At one point I had a date with a girl I had been hooking up with for a few months and I intentionally scheduled it on a night when she had to wake up early the next morning. I knew she’d want to go home early which meant I wouldn’t have to deal with the added anxiety of not being able to get hard for sex.
About a month after starting to feel a bit odd, it was obvious that I had a problem. My mood would swing wildly between deep melancholy and outright panic. And the fact that I was feeling this way after years of self-improvement only made it worse. Desperate for answers, I placed the blame on a few things. One was related to a side project I was working on. I had teamed up with a college friend to work on a tech startup and poured thousands of dollars of my own savings and personal loans into the idea. I genuinely believed in the potential of the startup we planned to build, but it was becoming more and more clear that the startup didn’t have a future and I wasn’t going to get my money back. I had hoped to use earnings from the startup to help pay for business school, but now I was in a position of having more debt on top of what I’d need to take out for school. Also, I sustained an injury in the gym about a week before I started feeling anxious. I was frustrated that it hit me right as I was starting to break through my PR’s on all the big lifts and was the heaviest and most muscular I’d ever been. And I was feeling a bit nostalgic about leaving the friends I’d made in Florida for my new life at school.
But the thing is, I’d dealt with even more stressful situations when I was a skinny, awkward college student and never experienced those levels of mental health issues. So I assumed it must be some combination of anxiety and depression and that the best course forward was to see a therapist.
I had a few sessions with the therapist and they helped a little. My therapist was kind, thoughtful, and pragmatic, but the whole thing felt like a bandaid. The issues I was bringing up with the therapist were the direct cause of my anxiety and depression but they weren’t the root cause. And I had no idea what the root cause was.
After I started school I got so busy that the depression mostly disappeared, but the anxiety continued to flare up. And the physical symptoms came back too. Some days I’d have almost no appetite and most days I’d have almost no energy in the gym. A few weeks in, I started dating one of the most attractive girls I’ve ever been with. Even after the success I’d had with women over the past few years, I still felt lucky to be with this girl. She openly talked about the opportunities she’d had to go into modeling, but had turned them down because she wanted to work on something that she felt helped society more. And as gorgeous as this girl was, sex with her often felt like more of an obligation than something I really wanted.
Still feeling anxious and confused, I took up meditation and told myself I’d go back to therapy if things didn’t get better. The meditation did help a little, but before I had the chance to set up another therapy appointment, someone suggested I get my hormones checked. He told me that sometimes low testosterone and other hormonal imbalances can cause symptoms like the ones I was experiencing. Hormonal issues never crossed my mind this entire time, so I’m very glad I heard that suggestion.
I ordered a test online and went to a local lab to get it done and the results arrived within a few days. Reading through the results gave me a profound sense of shock, quickly followed by an even more profound sense of relief. My testosterone levels were about 210 ng/dl, a typical level for a man in his 70’s. While I was shocked to see those numbers, I was very happy to have found what appeared to be the source of my problem. I took these test results to a local men’s health clinic and they confirmed my suspicions. The symptoms I had been experiencing the last several months were likely due at least in part to low testosterone. The doctor couldn’t say exactly what triggered the drop in testosterone levels, but it was probably a combination of stress, the injury, and natural drops that happen with age. For some guys these factors can cause low testosterone, even at a young age, and I was one of the unlucky ones.
The doctor said I’d be a good candidate for testosterone replacement therapy and suggested I start immediately. At first, I was hesitant. I had read things online about the risks and about how TRT is usually a lifetime commitment. But I knew I wanted to feel better and the risks seemed rather small compared to the benefits of feeling like myself again. So a couple weeks later I decided to get started.
There are multiple ways that guys receive TRT, including gels, creams, pellets, and injections. My doctor prescribes injections, which was another reason I was initially hesitant. I didn’t think I’d be able to stab myself with a needle, especially not twice a week, as the protocol required. But injections are considered the gold standard in terms of effectiveness, and I was willing to do whatever it took to feel better. So when my TRT kit arrived in the mail, I slowly, hesitantly unboxed it, filled the syringe, and gave myself my first shot. It’s gotten much easier since then. Now I actually look forward to injection days because I know I’m giving myself what my body needs to allow me to live my best life.
I’ve been on TRT a little over two months now and it’s had some incredible impacts on me mentally, physically, and sexually. In my next post, I’ll talk about the specific ways that TRT has improved my life.