Hormones 101

How to Talk to Your Partner About Low T and TRT

by Mike McAvennie with Dr. Danielle McDevitt, M.D.7/30/2021

HeroCouple

Don’t stress. Talking with your loved one about treating your Low T can be easier than you think.



You’ve done the research. You have your diagnosis from a Home-affiliated physician; you’ve got low testosterone. Now, the only thing that seems left to do is have the talk in which you tell your significant other that you want to go on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).

That can be a difficult conversation to have about a topic you may not even fully comprehend. How many men out there truly understand their hormones, how they function and how they affect you?

The vast majority of males are quick to believe that something is “wrong” with them — a sudden shortage of energy, abrupt weight gain, a significant lack of focus and a lagging libido. You have all the right signs that indicate you should start testing your hormones.

It’s tough enough discussing this stuff with a doctor. (Though we can help you have that conversation.) There’s a common misconception out there that low testosterone — “Low T” — isn’t a real issue. (One out of four men aged 30 and over has good reason to dispute either of those arguments.) You also have to think about how it impacts that special someone in your life — your wife, husband or life partner — who has seen you at your best and at your worst.

Right now, this definitely feels like your worst.

How do you tell your better half that you want to be whole again, and that TRT may be the means to best do so? We’ve come up with some ideas to help you have this deeply personal exchange — how and when to broach the subject, as well as ways to navigate through possible scenarios that could take the conversation in the wrong direction.

We also have some expert insight. Dr. Danielle McDevitt, a highly-respected internal medicine physician within Hone’s network of top physicians, has specialized in hormone consultation, treatment and optimization for more than a decade. Basing her feedback from past consultations with Hone patients, Dr. McDevitt offers some sound advice on how to make your discussion as productive as possible.


Do Your Research


Research Papers

We can’t state it any plainer than this. Show your significant other that you’ve actually researched your low testosterone issue and the facts behind TRT. You’ll find them to be more receptive.

Take notes of the way you’re feeling, or symptoms you’re exhibiting that suggest something about you isn’t copacetic. Match them up to the physical, mental and emotional indicators that are prevalent for those with Low T. If you haven’t consulted with a doctor yet, at least gain some understanding of where testosterone levels should be[1] at your age. Then look into the testosterone replacement therapy process, as well as any potential side effects.[2]


Prepare Your Questions — and Get the Answers From a Doctor


If you’re speaking with your health provider before having the talk with your partner, put together a list of questions to ask, including some that apply to what we just mentioned. Other examples include:

  • Are there specific tests to determine if TRT is necessary?

  • My partner and I want to start/continue building a family. Will TRT improve our chances or make it more difficult?

  • I have medical conditions. Will testosterone replacement therapy affect my treatment of those conditions and, if so, how?

  • What’s the best way to explain to my partner that TRT can help both of us?

  • If I go on TRT, how long will I need to stay on it?

  • Save any answers your research comes up with; your partner may ask you variations of these exact same questions.


Make the Time for the Conversation


If you have even the slightest concern that your intention to go on TRT may be met with resistance, chat with your loved one as soon as possible. But don’t launch straight into a discussion at a time when your other half clearly isn’t ready for one. It’s a bad idea to drop this kind of bombshell on someone moments after they walk into the house following a long day at work, or while they’re stressed out trying to complete something else under a tight deadline.

You’re already battling your own body; don’t add your other half to the fight card. Instead, tell them that you’d like to set some time aside to discuss an important personal matter and that you want their input. Propose a time when you’ll have each other’s undivided attention and focus.


Start the Conversation on a Positive Note


If you start off along the lines of, “Something’s wrong; I want to go on TRT,” you’re ending the discussion before it can really begin. Sure, you might get what you want, but it may not come without some collateral damage to your relationship. The lack of context makes your comment come off as negative and hurried, and you’re not giving your loved one a chance to weigh in or consider what you’re trying to tell them.


Be Honest


Talking to your partner

According to Dr. McDevitt, you don’t need magic words to make a compelling case to your loved one for TRT. “Just be honest,” she says. “Say, ‘Hey, I’m noticing these symptoms. I don’t know if you’ve noticed them too.’ Just have that open communication and say, ‘I think I’m going to look into assessing my hormones. What do you think?’”

McDevitt also suggests that being truthful about your intentions doesn’t need to be so difficult. “I think all of us have, to a point, an understanding that hormones fluctuate,” she explains. “We understand that when hormones are a little wacky, people feel ‘off.’ I think it’s easy to talk about it with a significant other so long as you’re just open and honest. It’ll make any relationship good.”


Your Goal Isn’t to Be Right


When you enter a discussion that has the potential for opposing viewpoints, it’s only natural that you do your hardest to not only establish that you’re right, but to also convince the other party that they should come around to your way of thinking. Many of us are guilty of this one.

Some of you may feel so strongly that you’re prepared to “Hulk out” — in terms of intensity, not physicality — to defend your position.Just remember: when the Incredible Hulk was done being angry or overly intense, he calmed down, reverted back to Bruce Banner, and was able to think straight again.

Keeping a calm, open mind helps you become more amenable to other viewpoints. Even if you still don’t agree, you’re able to respect and appreciate having another perspective. When it comes to discussing your desire to seek treatment, the objective isn’t to win some tug-o-war of wills by proving to your partner that you’re right to do so. It’s about the two of you working together and aligning your thinking on the subject matter.

As important as it is to focus on yourself, remember that your health impacts your significant other and family just as much as it affects you.


Talk About Your Feelings


This may sound counter-productive to what people usually do when they’re about to have an important or difficult exchange. Normally, you don’t want to bring personal feelings into the discussion. Emotions can cloud your rationale or take a conversation off the intended path.

That isn’t the case here.

Yes, brush up on your research beforehand to show your partner that opting for testosterone replacement therapy is the right move. However, it’s a very personal, intimate matter. You can’t simply shut off your feelings about something of this magnitude, nor should you.

Let your partner know how your Low T has made you feel off your game, not only in the bedroom but in everyday life as well. If they can understand the emotional rollercoaster you’ve been experiencing, you’ll find that most of them will be supportive and willing to get on that ride with you.


Don't Lay Blame


It’s not their fault. It’s not yours, either. While you wrestle with what’s happening to your body, Dr. McDevitt says it’s very important to remember that your loved one may also be struggling to understand what’s happening to you, and possibly to your relationship.

“If you have a partner and you are noticing symptoms,” she explains, “especially the fatigue or the low stamina or the decreased sex drive, sometimes on the other end the partner asks, ‘Is it me? Are you not attracted to me anymore? What’s going on?’”

Of course, you know he or she hasn't done anything wrong, but your significant other doesn’t. Instead, they may believe themselves to be somehow responsible. They see your decreased sex drive as a sign that they don’t do it for you anymore.

When you tell your loved one that you’re looking into testosterone replacement therapy, be sure to emphasize every chance you get that none of this is their fault. “It’s important to talk to your partner about that and say, ‘I think something might be off chemically or hormonally, and I’m going to have it checked out,’” says McDevitt.


Let Them Ask Questions


You had questions, right? You wanted to know why you had decreased energy, zero sex drive and thick brain fog.

If your partner didn’t have questions before the talk, it’s a good bet they’ll have some afterward. Let them ask away. Questions mean they’re invested in the conversation and they want to help. And be honest if you don’t know the answers to some of those questions. That’s the point of this. You want to find out, and you want your loved one to take part in your journey of discovery.


Listen as Much as You Talk


Ear listening

In addition to hearing your partner’s questions, listen intently to their concerns or advice. Even better, reiterate what your loved one states. This strategy — known as “reflective listening” — actively demonstrates that you don’t have waxy buildup blocking your ears, and it provides verbal confirmation of your partner’s position.

Also consider this bonus: If you have misunderstood something your loved one has said, you’ll receive prompt, on-the-spot clarification.


Avoid the Word “But”


If you rely too much on inserting the word “but” into your discussion, it’ll lead to a real problem:

“I understand what you’re saying, but…”

“What you’re saying makes sense, but…”

It’s amazing how three simple letters can derail a conversation. You may think you’re respecting your partner’s feelings by politely countering their concerns about TRT; however, you also run the risk of making them feel like you’ve dismissed their very valid opinions. If you want their support to move forward with your plans, leave your “but” behind.


Explain How TRT Will Benefit Both of You 


Should your other half react strongly against your desire to go on TRT — it’s understandable if they worry about potential side effects — avoid getting defensive or, worse, firing back with comments that derail your messaging.

Keep on point and cite how the positive benefits TRT outweigh any negative risks. Aside from the often-stated advantage of having your love gun locked and loaded again, also reinforce that this is an opportunity for you to improve your day-to-day living and discover your best self — not just for you, but for your partner, too. Stress that with proper monitoring from your doctor, TRT can help you regain your lost energy and mental clarity, awaken the sleeping giant in your pants, and re-experience the self-confidence that attracted your soulmate to you in the first place. You may not completely sway their thinking, but you’re at least offering something more constructive for them to work with.


Invite Your Partner to Be Part of the Solution


It’s important for you to know you’re not alone. It’s also important for your partner to feel likewise. If your significant other is part of the battle plan from the beginning, there are no surprises along the way. The lines of communication flow freely, and your partner will have a better idea of what they can expect once you begin treatment. It’s a plan that Dr. McDevitt encourages her patients to consider during their virtual Hone consultations together.

“If you feel comfortable with your partner hearing your medical history, let them be involved,” says Dr. McDevitt. “Bring them to your computer screen and let’s talk together. If you ever have any questions, you two are a team now.”

Dr. McDevitt believes that taking this team approach toward the problem benefits not only the patient, but also those around him. “It makes the partner feel better,” she says. “It’s no longer about laziness or a believing the lack of sex is due to lost attraction. They realize there’s something more going on. I think that’s very important.”


References:

[1] Rivas AM, Mulkey Z, Lado-Abeal J, Yarbrough S. Diagnosing and managing low serum testosterone. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2014 Oct;27(4):321-4. doi: 10.1080/08998280.2014.11929145. PMID: 25484498; PMCID: PMC4255853.

[2] Osterberg EC, Bernie AM, Ramasamy R. Risks of testosterone replacement therapy in men. Indian J Urol. 2014 Jan;30(1):2-7. doi: 10.4103/0970-1591.124197. PMID: 24497673; PMCID: PMC3897047.

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Hone works with board-certified endocrinologists, urologists, internal medicine and other types of physicians who specialize in helping men address medical issues associated with their hormone levels.

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