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Will H., 25 from UC Davis in California

“Testosterone replacement therapy.” With all the feelings that those three words elicit in me now, it's hard to believe that about 5 or 6 years ago it didn't really mean anything. Or perhaps it might have meant (as it seems to mean to the majority of the general public) some sort of illegal performance enhancement, aka the evil steroids!

Now I know that TRT is simply the use of supplemental testosterone with the intent to establish physiological levels of testosterone in the presence of a medically demonstrated deficiency. This is not different from any other medication designed to help the body achieve a healthy balance.

Unfortunately, this is not what comes to mind for most people when testosterone is mentioned. My journey began when I got into fitness. I went through a severe bout of depression in high school, which I tried to remedy by starting a workout regimen. It helped and I became very passionate about it very quickly.

I read everything I could about bodybuilding. I started to use supplements that I ordered over the internet. I was naive and did not do the proper research.  Instead I accepted the information provided by the advertisements, which stated that I would become ripped, cut and muscular in no time. Now I understand that these "supplements" were actually pro-hormones or hormonal precursors of testosterone.

Remember androstenedione? This supplement used by Mark McGwire helped his run at the record. Of course now we know that what he used was not pro-hormones, but pharmaceutical grade steroids. At the time these precursor hormones were all the rage in the supplement industry, in part due to McGwire's success.

I did gain weight and felt more aggressive, but this was most likely the result of androstenedione conversion to estrogen. Estrogen increases water retention and heavily influences mood. I used bottle after bottle of this stuff barely staying off for the required 4-6 weeks as was recommended on the label.  Finally I decided to take a break when I moved out to California for college.

Once in CA I noticed changes. I was still depressed and unable to gain muscle and keep off fat like many of my gym buddies. I had swollen nipples. I did not experience the raging sex drive that most of my friends bragged about. So I visited endocrinologist at the University of California Davis.

The doctor ran a full hormone panel and two tests came back abnormal. The first was prolactin, which the doctor explained could have been elevated from a variety of causes, and was not really anything to worry about. The second was my testosterone level.

Although still somewhat uninformed, I could see that a  result of 300 on a scale of 300-1100 was bad. He said that my testosterone was low, but that because of my age he couldn't give me testosterone. Of course, I know now that my age, if anything, should have made that result all the more striking, as young men should be the ones near the upper end of the spectrum not the lowest.

The doctor said that my supplement use was probably the cause though it had been over a year since I took my last hormonal supplement. I didn't really think much of this at the time because I knew very lilttle about testosterone.  I do remember thinking it was weird that he wouldn't treat me simply because of my youth.
If I had had a heart condition would they have sent me away because, I was just too young to be treated? Another year went by and I didn't feel much better. I never felt like pursuing girls and I had to work out and eat perfectly just to feel normal and even then I didn't have much to show for it. It was at this point that I began to do some online research and learned about TRT.

I came across a few large forums with specific areas for the discussion steroid use. I found men who were self-medicating because they had been so frustrated with doctors refusing to treat them, even in the presence of several blood tests showing a deficiency. I even found men discussing the problems related to supplements similar to the ones I had taken. I also read that it was possible for an endocrine system to bounce back and "recover" from the suppressed state.

So I gave it more time. But after another year I still felt the same. I dealt with the depression, the terrible lack of a sex drive and the overall general feeling of malaise. I didn't really feel driven in any direction. I gaven in and decided to try some real testosterone.

I had spent the better part of 3 years educating myself about different hormones and felt that I could handle it. I ordered injectable testosterone cypionate from a website that catered to bodybuilders and eagerly awaited it's arrival. When it was delivered to my mailbox, I was a bit nervous about giving myself  my first injection, but this was completely upstaged by my strong desire to simply feel better. And boy, did I feel better...well for a while.

I experimented with different dosages and even tried a high "bodybuilding" dose. I developed great muscle gains in the gym and lost fat. I felt confident in a way I had never experienced before. But life was up and down. I felt like I was on a rollercoaster and one good day would be followed by dark, moody, depressive days. After about 4 months I began to develop anxiety and some headaches and dizziness.

At this point I decided it was best to seek some medical care. I went to another doctor who was supposed to be a specialist in hormone replacement. I told him the whole story and he ordered more blood tests,  which of course came back even lower than before. But alas, he also told me he could not treat me. I was simply suppressed because of my own abuse and that I was far too young to need testosterone. He only prescribed it for older men.

The biggest slap in the face came when he offered to put me on thyroid medication.  My levels were only  slightly low on the blood test and not even outside the normal range. So I left his office feeling even more depressed then I had ever felt.  I finally confided in my parents and after their anger had somewhat subsided, my mother offered to help me find another  doctor outside of my immediate area.

I am forever grateful that she found Dr. Kryger in Monterey. I e-mailed him and unlike any other doctor that I written to from Michigan, the return e-mail was not a form letter, it was actually him! I could tell right away that he was different.  That he was open and willing to at least look into the possibility that I might need TRT.  DrK was incredibly refreshing and gave me a sense of hope and a feeling that I was in  good hands.
I drove down to Monterey from Sacramento to see him and after a series of blood tests again indicating that I had low testosterone, I was finally given a prescription for testosterone! Only this doctor was different. Instead of giving me an injectable as I had previously tried he ordered a high potency transdermal cream, which he said could mimic my body's natural hormonal rhythm.

Within HOURS of applying the cream, I felt my mood lift dramatically. My sex drive returned and finally I felt I had found something I could count on, and for the first time I felt stable and constant. I felt the same benefits in the gym that I had experienced before and then some with none of the ups and downs. I don't know how to put it other than to say I just felt "right".

I have now been on the testosterone cream for over a year and a half and my entire life has dramatically improved. I am happy. Finally at 25 years of age,  I have a girlfriend and an excellent sex life. But besides the obvious improvements in my mood, drive and musculature, I would have to say the most striking thing is the overall cognitive "shift" that I have experienced.

I feel more motivated than ever before. And I'm not talking about motivation specifically towards one thing.  There is a general change in my approach to life as a whole. I have a confidence in day to day life that simply cannot be undermined. This is what I mean when I talk about “life changing”. It is this unrelenting drive to go out in the world and achieve success and make every moment count that will lead me on paths that I simply wouldn't have chosen to go down before. I really do owe it all to Dr. Kryger.

From the first day we began our e-mail correspondence, he has been there for me not only as a doctor, but as a mentor. He did not treat me simply as someone falling into a certain age bracket or percentile, but instead as a complete person. I received the excellent care that seems to go hand in hand with this type of doctor-patient relationship. I am so happy now, I had to tell my story to others.

It makes me angry to think that the media's demonization of steroids has had such an effect on many doctors’ willingness to treat men like me. This almost prevented me from being where I am today. If a young guy visits a doctor and demonstrates a realistic need for help, he should receive it. To me it is as simple as that. It is my hope that in the furture, forward thinking physicians like Dr. Kryger will no longer have to defend testosterone replacement therapy, but instead promote it as a viable therapy for deficiency regardless of a man’s age.

 
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