In terms of hormone replacement therapy, testosterone replacement therapy is still a fairly new treatment in the world of medicine. Because of the mixed data on the effectiveness of testosterone replacement therapy, there is still a lot unknown and yet to be confirmed about all of its effects on the body, and how it varies from patient to patient conditions. While it’s been proven to help those with abnormally low, non-age-related testosterone, it’s important to discuss possible side effects of TRT therapy on particular processes. One example that can be brought up in these discussions is TRT’s effect on collagen.
Testosterone is an important hormone produced in the male and female reproductive systems. In men, it is responsible for developing sex organs, bone density, and muscle mass. In women, testosterone works with estrogen and affects sex drive, red blood production, muscle mass, and fat distribution.
Testosterone replacement therapy, or TRT, is a type of hormone replacement therapy used to treat low testosterone levels. Testosterone levels can be low for many reasons, including a number of disorders, syndromes, medications, and a lot of the time, age. There are multiple methods that the treatment can be administered, such as gels, creams, patches, or pills.
Low testosterone can affect mood, sex life and overall health in men and women. TRT should only be seriously considered after a fully comprehensive health screening, and only when recommended by a medical professional. TRT does not come without side effects and risks, like oily skin, low sperm count, larger breasts in women. In some, there is an increased risk of blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes. It should also be noted that TRT is not a cure to low testosterone, so if you stop taking it, prior symptoms can return.
Collagen is a protein found abundantly in the human body, making up about one third of the body’s proteins. It’s basically what holds everything together. Without collagen, our skin, bones, organs, ligaments, and essentially everything with a structure would fall apart. Typically, when people think about collagen, it is associated with skin and hair. This is because collagen gives skin its elasticity. As you age, your body produces less and lower quality collagen, which causes skin to become less firm and supple.
So, what are the TRT effects on collagen in your body? First, let’s talk about the relationship between hormones and collagen without hormone replacement therapy. Because the human body has multiple systems working together all the time to function, it’s important for hormone levels to be optimal and balanced in order to increase and maintain good collagen levels. Both estrogen and testosterone have an impact on collagen production, but only in tandem with several other processes functioning properly. So, it makes sense that low testosterone levels can also affect collagen levels.
A question about TRT and Collagen was brought up to Dr. Rand McClain of Regenerative & Sports Medicine during a Q&A. A man in his mid-20s on week 6 of his 9-week TRT cycle wonders if the treatment can have a negative impact on collagen synthesis. This question comes after an injury he got while weight-lifting, which had never happened in his 8 years of lifting. McClain makes sure to note that he would need a lot more information to give a full answer. He also notes that it’s a bit odd a man so young would be undergoing testosterone replacement therapy.
However, with the information presented, Dr. McClain theorizes that because of the drop in body fat and build-up in muscle mass caused by TRT, the injury might have come about by getting too strong too quickly. While the man’s body might have been used to lifting for a long time, the sudden increase in testosterone might have been too much. This could be causing a new strain on muscles, therefore causing the injury. So, in this specific case, combining bodybuilding with TRT, the treatment did seem to affect the collagen synthesis, specifically in the muscles.
Check out Dr. Rand McClain dive into TRT effects on collagen and more in our Ask the Doc series on YouTube.