So you’re ready to start testosterone replacement therapy, but not sure who to trust. And for good reason: the many benefits of testosterone optimization — including improved body composition, strength, libido, and energy levels — don’t come without risks. Your health, safety, personal goals, and unique biology are all important factors when choosing when, where, and how you get started.
Here, the top four questions to ask on your search for a testosterone replacement therapy plan that puts you first.
4 Questions to Get Smart About Your Hormone Optimization Plan
If you suspect a drop in testosterone, it’s not just you. Testosterone levels decline about 1-2% each year starting in your early-30s. The good news: there are plenty of solutions. The bad news: very few are vetted properly for you.
Along with growing awareness about andropause, aka the progressive decline in testosterone as you age, has come a proliferation of companies offering testosterone replacement therapies via in-person clinics and online. “While the benefits of testosterone replacement therapy are clear, embarking on hormone optimization is a serious health decision that requires research and due diligence,” says Dr. Vinita Tandon, Lifeforce’s Medical Director, a board certified endocrinologist, and previous national medical director for 12 hormone optimization clinics.
Here’s your guide to selecting the right partner and plan for you.
1. Are they collecting enough data to truly understand my health and safety?
To keep costs down, many companies test for the bare minimum of 5-6 biomarkers needed to legally prescribe testosterone. Problem is: Testosterone affects many systems throughout the body, so only analyzing that small data set is insufficient, says Dr. Tandon.
The Lifeforce Diagnostic tests every member for 25+ biomarkers covering hormone levels, metabolic condition, heart health, inflammation, cancer risk, and key nutrient deficiencies. We make no profit on our intake test and pass this on to members at cost. Why? We consider it our duty of care to understand your health comprehensively before making performance recommendations. Every blood test also includes a full clinical report written by a Lifeforce doctor. And, we retest biomarkers every three months to track your progress and fine-tune your plan.
2. Do they bring deep and relevant clinical expertise?
Hormone optimization requires specialized training and experience. Clinical teams should be composed of properly licensed doctors (as opposed to nurses or physicians assistants) with board certification in internal medicine, functional medicine, or endocrinology. While any doctor is technically able to prescribe testosterone, few have the expertise to appropriately personalize programs to each individual. For example, the doctor should be able to speak in depth about research related to different delivery methods (injectables vs. creams) and dosage frequencies (daily vs. weekly vs. monthly).
That level of clinical expertise is difficult to access at an affordable price. At Lifeforce we've created a model to make it available to more men. Each and every doctor on the Lifeforce medical team is board-certified in internal medicine, functional medicine, or endocrinology. “Our clinical model is doctor-built with a medical director who’s a multi-published hormone optimization researcher and one of the leading male and female hormone optimization practitioners in the country,” says Lifeforce Co-Founder Dugal Bain. “Our doctors are hands-on and personally involved in creating every program recommendation and monitoring every member’s performance over time.”
3. Are they able to meet me where I’m at personally?
Many testosterone therapy companies only sell a very narrow range of testosterone-related products, which leads to a natural incentive to prescribe those products to as many people as possible. As outlined here, there are several strategies for optimizing testosterone from exogenous testosterone to supplements, to lifestyle changes and a good partner can offer whichever is best for you. Moreover, testosterone deficiency often exists alongside other important hormone or vitamin deficiencies that benefit from being treated in a coordinated way. “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail — beware of companies that are too narrowly focused on selling testosterone,” warns Bain.
“Hormone optimization is a key pillar of the Lifeforce system, but we built our model to be a one-stop-shop for performance,” says Bain. “We also offer a broad range of custom-built, clinician-grade supplements, and practical lifestyle coaching so we have the flexibility to match every member to the right solution for them.” No more hacking together DIY blood test trackers, spending hours trying to compare supplements, and arguing with your family doctor about your hormones.
4. How well do they monitor and support me once I am on the program?
Unlike erectile dysfunction or hair loss, testosterone optimization is not a one-size-fits-all or one-and-done treatment. Stabilizing people in their optimal zone often requires iteration of dosages and/or product combinations over three to six months, Dr. Tandon explains. “Unfortunately, many companies in this space deliver high-touch sales processes only to largey vanish once the card is swiped,” Bain says.
And this is often particularly true of access to clinicians. “Hormone optimization is often a multi-year journey and the right partner must be willing to invest the time and resources to deliver an outstanding experience throughout the duration of the relationship,” Dr. Tandon says.
Lifeforce’s membership includes quarterly blood testing with a results summary written by a doctor, unlimited access to the clinical team, lifestyle coaching from your dedicated Performance Guide, and members-only access to hormone optimization, peptides, and pharmaceuticals. Head here to learn more.
This article was medically reviewed by Vinita Tandon, MD, ABIM Board Certified in Endocrinology and Metabolism.