Greater Boston Urology Blog

What Is Testosterone and Testosterone Replacement Therapy?

In honor of Men's Health Month, we thought it would make sense to test your testosterone knowledge.

Below, we sat down for a quick Q&A with Dr. Natalya Lopushnyan to discuss the basics regarding testosterone and testosterone replacement.

As with all content on Greater Boston Urology's blog, the following information is educational in nature, not medical advice. Always talk to your physician about your specific health care questions and conditions.

[Editor's note: This article was reviewed and updated with additional links 1/4/22.]

What is testosterone? 

Dr. Lopushnyan: Testosterone is a male hormone, and it is important in several functions for a man. It helps your libido, it helps your sex drive, and it helps your erections.

But testosterone affects other important functions as well. When I see patients in my clinic with low testosterone, or low T, as people sometimes refer to it, they will frequently complain of weight gain, feeling fatigued, not feeling interested in doing things, and not being able to exercise as long. All those functions also rely on testosterone levels.

What are normal testosterone levels in a male? 

Dr. Lopushnyan: It's anywhere between 280 and 700 to 800, and that will depend on the man's age as well. If your testosterone is much lower than 280, 250, we would probably want to replace it.               

How do you "replace" testosterone? 

Dr. Lopushnyan: That's done pretty easily. Most doctors will start by offering a medication such as topical testosterone gel. You apply the topical testosterone gel on your shoulders or your thighs every day, and that raises your testosterone.

A small portion of men will develop sensitivity or allergy to the testosterone gel, or they will not absorb it as well, and their testosterone will not go up with that treatment. For those men, we have other options, such as injectables or implantable pellets or a patch.

Injectable testosterone or the pellets are long-lasting—they can last anywhere from ten weeks to three months. You would come into the doctor's office and get a long-lasting testosterone shot for ten to twelve weeks. Or you would get little pellets implanted, which takes about two minutes in the office, and then you would be good to go for about three months.

If you're on testosterone replacement, it is very important to follow up with your doctor on a regular basis to make sure that it is still working and your testosterone level is still where you want it to be. And also to make sure you don't have any side effects.

Thanks, Dr. Lopushnyan! Watch Dr. L talk about testosterone and testosterone replacement therapy in the video below.


If you're dealing with low testosterone, we can help.

Schedule an appointment with one of our urologists.

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