Testosterone doping — it’s not always what you think. Doping is a misleading term. It can prolong your cycling career, sex life, help you stay trim, and make your bones stronger. If you meet certain criteria, you’re a candidate for testosterone therapy, sometimes also referred to as doping in professional cycling.
Low T is an abbreviation for low testosterone. Testosterone is a hormone. It’s what makes a man a man. It’s what puts hair on your chest. It keeps your muscles and bones strong. It’s the force behind your sex drive. As a cyclist it can help you drop the pack, climb that steep hill with ease, or go beyond your normal distance quota.
Low T typically affects middle-aged men. It’s a normal effect of aging. Symptoms may include depression, poor sex drive, erectile dysfunction, impotence, or loss of sleep — all common symptoms of aging. By the time men reach 30, testosterone production decreases at an average of about 1 per cent per year. It’s not surprising that muscle mass also decreases at about the same rate. Other common symptoms of Low T can include diabetes, and hypogonadism, which means that your gonads aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do.
It Gets Worse
It’s almost a double-edged sword: rigorous cycling with Low T can increase your testosterone consumption, and cause testosterone to go even lower. This can cause serious bone loss, increasing fatigue and decreasing endurance.
It’s been more or less proven that testosterone therapy works to improve cycling abilities — just look at Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis. Its unfortunate as well, because both of them would have probably held their own without it. But nonetheless, the use of testosterone has been associated with their performance, and it’s at least partly responsible for the bad press concerning testosterone.
So it’s been established that testosterone therapy can help you to win races, climb steep hills, drop everyone on a group ride, or go above and beyond your normal capabilities — but don’t run out and get it yet.
Testosterone is forbidden in amateur and professional bike racing, as well as intercollegiate sports, Olympic competitions, etc.. It’s rigorously controlled in athletic events by the United States Anti-Doping Agency and the World Anti-Doping Agency. But cycling’s doping agencies rarely test amateurs for one obvious reason: They’re amateurs. They compete for hundreds of dollars, not millions.
How it Affects You
Testosterone therapy won’t turn a screen-loving blob into an elite athlete. But if you’re suffering from low testosterone, bringing your natural testosterone up to normal levels can help you to be a better cyclist. You’re considered a candidate for testosterone therapy if you already have low levels of the natural hormone—when judged by doctors.
Aside from the obvious cycling benefits, testosterone therapy can help you lose abdominal fat, grow a better beard, give you a confidence boost, do wonders for your pride, and boost your self image. And last but not least, make your erections stiffer, and your libido stronger.
Be aware that testosterone also has a dark side. It’s reputed side effects include shrinking testicles and body acne, among other things. It can build red blood cells in your body, making your blood more viscous (thicker.) It can make you grow man boobs. Men who have cancer should not receive testosterone treatment.
Sociologists and psychologists agree that testosterone and behavior are linked, although the connections aren’t fully understood. You might get edgy, and small things can really tick you off, resulting in foul language and cursing.
About Your Prostate
The main concern a few years ago, was men over 50 using testosterone therapy ran an increased risk of prostate cancer. Although studies report that testosterone can stimulate cancer cells, most recent studies have debunked the hypothesis that cancer is somehow a direct result of increased testosterone. In fact, recent research suggests that undergoing treatment for Low T could reduce the risk of prostate cancer. In light of both studies, its wise to get your PSA, prostate-specific-antigen, tested along with your T-level. This test tells the doctor if you might be a candidate for further prostate cancer screening. Don’t skip this important test if you’re over 40, talk to your doctor about it.
It can be determined by almost any general physician in his office, your family doctor can do it. The doctor will order a specific blood test to determine your testosterone level. But the determination also depends on what doctor you see, whose opinions vary as to what “low” means. The determination depends on how old you are, and other related medical conditions. Most capable doctors will want to rule out any such possible explanations for symptoms before blaming them on low testosterone. A low score does not always translate to symptoms.
Options for Treatment
If you do indeed have low T, and you and your doctor decide to go with treatment, there are some options. Some doctors testify that testosterone injections are the best option. Given every few weeks, once a week or once a month. If you don’t mind needles, you can do this yourself and save money, the doctor can show you how. Cyclists should note that taking the shot in your upper buttocks is best — it won’t make you sore in the saddle.
Gel, Patch or Pellets
Another option is the gel patch or solution. Because they are applied on a regular and frequent basis, these treatments keep a man’s testosterone at a steady level. If you are using testosterone gel, be careful not to expose other people to the gel. Another option is implantable testosterone pellets, a relatively new form of treatment in which pellets are placed under the skin of the buttocks, where they release testosterone over the course of about three to four months.
Talk to Your Doctor
To sum it up, testosterone treatment is out there if you need it, and qualify for it. It will help you as a cyclist, but should be used only if you doctor OKs it, and you get regular follow up. If you have issues with other medical related conditions, they should be treated by a specialist.
Don’t take the decision to use testosterone lightly. Testosterone therapy should be a personal choice between you and your doctor, and your wife — she’ll likely say go for it. Some men are fine with low t, and show no symptoms. One important thing worth noting: Once you decide to go with testosterone therapy, you’ll likely need to use it for the rest of your life.