Testosterone deficiency is a common symptom for both men and women who have HIV. Complications with the body’s endocrine system have been noted since the earliest days of HIV. This is important to note as low levels of testosterone can lead to severe complications, especially when paired with HIV.
What Is Testosterone & How Can It Impact HIV/AIDS Patients?
Testosterone is the male sex hormone that is created in the male testicles or female ovaries. Testosterone plays a crucial role in developing lean muscle mass, hair growth, and other secondary male sexual characteristics. In men, testosterone can even effect mood. Although women do not have as much testosterone compared to men, testosterone is still essential as it helps women maintain bone mass and muscle.
Can Higher Levels of Testosterone Help With HIV/AIDS Symptoms
According to a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, male hormone testosterone can help HIV-positive patients with muscle wasting, rebuilding strength, and increasing muscle. This isn’t limited to just men; women who show signs of muscle wasting also show low levels of testosterone. The same study showed that body weight and lean muscle mass was increased by almost 6 pounds in men who received testosterone.
Doctors may prescribe hormone replacement therapy, but if you just can’t take the risk of synthetic anabolic steroids, there are tons of natural testosterone boosting supplements on the market you can take to help raise your energy and production of testosterone. Click here to learn more about testosterone boosting supplements.
What Is Hypogonadism?
According to the Mayo Clinic, hypogonadism is a condition where the body doesn’t produce enough testosterone. It can occur from the time you’re a fetus, to the time you’re 65. Although you may think hypogonadism is a naturally occurring thing that happens with age, it’s important to note that it can lead to severe emotional and mental changes. It can also lead to lowered energy, depression, decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, balding, development of breast tissue, loss of bone mass, and more. One of the major risk factors for low testosterone is HIV/AIDS, as well as chemotherapy or radiation therapy. In fact, having HIV makes you five times more likely to develop hypogonadism.
Symptoms of Low Testosterone
If you have HIV/AIDs, you need to be mindful of the symptoms of low testosterone as they may interfere with your progress and can contribute to new health concerns and ailments such as:
- Muscle wasting
- Low energy
- Depression and Irritability
- Thinning of bones
- Weight Gain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Testicular shrinkage
Hypogonadism & Women With HIV
Testosterone also plays an integral role in a woman’s body as it is essential for maintaining muscle and bone mass. It also helps women regulate their energy, gives them strength, and increases their libido.
While hypogonadism may be less common among women with HIV compared to men, the effects of HIV wasting caused by low testosterone is more severe in women. Things get even more complicated in pre-menopausal women.
There are many ways your doctor can help you find out if you have low testosterone. A simple blood or urine test can help your doctor find out if you have low testosterone, and show them if you are already showing symptoms of low testosterone.
He or She may also look you over physically to see if you show any symptoms of low testosterone such as the amount of body hair, size of breast, scrotum, testes, and penis. Your doctor may also ask you questions about your sex drive, energy levels, or ask if you’ve experienced any erectile dysfunction.
Researchers at John Hopkins University found that rather than just relying on “total” testosterone (the amount of how much you have in your bloodstream), it’s helpful to find out how much “free” testosterone you have by taking a Free T-index test. Free testosterone is the testosterone that is not attached to any sex hormone-binding globulins. It’s the type of testosterone that can be absorbed by the body to help you get muscle, lose weight, and regulate your mood.
If you’ve been diagnosed with hypogonadism, testosterone replacement therapy may be recommended by your doctor. Your doctor may prescribe you testosterone injections every two to four weeks to avoid the symptoms of fluctuating testosterone levels. This is important to note as fluctuating testosterone levels can lead to severe mood swings, ups-and-downs in your energy, and can have a devastating effect on your sex life. Side effects of testosterone replacement therapy include hair loss, sleep apnea, blood clots, acne, and swelling of your body parts.
What is PrEP?
PrEP is short for pre-exposure prophylaxis, and its purpose is to keep HIV negative people from becoming infected. PrEP was created for those who are at risk of getting HIV through sex, or for those who are at risk from drug use. There are studies that show PrEP can reduce the risk of getting HIV by up to 99% when taken correctly.
Truvada vs Descovy
Descovy is typically recommended for those who are at risk of HIV through sex, excluding those at risk through receptive vaginal sex. Descovy has not been tested for HIV prevention for those who have receptive vaginal sex.
Truvada is recommended for those at risk of HIV through sex or injection drug use.
Why Do You Take PrEP Daily?
Taking PrEP daily can help your body build up enough defense against HIV, and can stop it from spreading in your body. If you don’t take PrEP daily, there may not be enough medicine in your bloodstream to block the HIV virus.
The Basics of HIV Prevention
HIV is spread from an infected person to an HIV negative person through blood, semen, breast milk, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, & pre-seminal fluids. HIV is only transmitted when these fluids come into contact with damaged tissue, your mucous membrane (which can be found inside the vagina, rectum, mouth, and opening of a penis), or are injected into the bloodstream from a dirty needle. Some examples of ways HIV can be spread is through anal or vaginal sex without a condom, or sharing needles with someone who is infected with HIV.
You can’t get HIV from casual contact such as a handshake or a closed-mouthed kiss, or toilet seats and silverware.
You can reduce the risk of HIV by getting tested with your partner before you have intercourse. Being aware of your risky sexual behaviors can also help you prevent HIV because not using a condom is the most significant risk factor for contracting HIV. Don’t inject drugs, but if you do, use clean needles and water. Even hepatitis can be transmitted through sharing water with someone who has contaminated blood on their syringe.