Testosterone Therapy Risks, written by David Jaynes.
Low testosterone isn’t exactly normal, but it does affect
one in four men over 30 in the United States.
It’s not a life-threatening condition, but can definitely threaten your lifestyle.
Common side effects include reduced libido, lower sperm production, reduced bone density and muscle mass, increased fat, and lower red blood cell production.
So it’s not something you want to just put up with, like that bum knee from that mountain biking injury.
Ask (most) doctors, and they’ll recommend testosterone therapy: injecting or ingesting pharmaceutical testosterone to make up for what your body is no longer producing.
It’s the standard big pharma response to the problem, but like most big pharma solutions it comes with its own set of problems…
It doesn’t make sense, but it’s true. Men who go through testosterone therapy end up with reduced fertility. This usually happens from one of two things (or both).
Either way, if you want to have kids seriously reconsider testosterone therapy.
A winner in our “ironic, but true” contest is the fact that testosterone therapy increases estrogen (source).
It works like this. All bodies need a mixture of estrogen and testosterone. Women need more estrogen. Men need more testosterone. But both need both. If you flood your body with testosterone via testosterone therapy, your body quickly adapts.
Aromatase is an enzyme that converts testosterone to estradiol. (Estradiol is to estrogen as whiskey is to lite beer: a more potent and potentially dangerous form)
Too much testosterone in the blood usually leads to increased aromatase activity…
This system is in place to aromatize excess androgen’s into estrogen (an issue that can cause all kinds of testicular, sexual, and general health problems). But the system is designed for the slow, natural release of testosterone.
Unfortunately, testosterone therapy floods your system with testosterone, which triggers excessive aromatase activity, leading to excessive estrogen production .
Too much estrogen in a male body has several negative effects on your health, such as fatigue, low libido, erectile dysfunction, increased abdominal fat, and gynecomastia (man-boobs).
Depression and type 2 diabetes are also associated with too much estrogen in the male blood stream.
You won’t get heroin-style addicted to testosterone therapy, but your body can develop a physical dependence.
It works like this:
And on and on it goes.
This works much like alcohol, insulin and dopamine tolerances at the heart of many other men’s’ health problems, and it’s just as bad for you.
I mean literally dying here. Rare, but real, side effects of testosterone therapy include:
Full disclosure: these conditions are rare side effects. And men who experience them rarely actually die. But deaths from testosterone therapy do happen (source).
Add to those risks the fact that for one of the most common reasons men want higher testosterone, it doesn’t work!
Many men who consider testosterone therapy do so to fight erectile dysfunction.
This makes sense. Testosterone and erections seem to go together. But two key studies in 2004 both found reason to doubt this oversimplified approach.
While most studies on testosterone and erectile function were performed on animals, these studies looked at human subjects.
One took 32 patients with hypogonadism from low testosterone and gave them testosterone therapy. The therapy did improve some symptoms of low testosterone (and cause side effects). But the improvement in erections was small and short-lived.
This situation is especially true in men over 30. The older you get, the less likely testosterone therapy is to actually improve your sex life.
As the TV sales folks say, “That’s not all!” Here’s a short list of other problems Testosterone Therapy has been proven to cause in some patients:
Okay. So Now What?
It’s not that testosterone therapy is never necessary, but unless you have a condition such as Klinefelter’s Syndrome, or have suffered trauma to the testicles, it’s worth trying other options before committing to TRT.
Good news: all kinds of natural methods from lifestyle to diet can increase your testosterone without the testosterone therapy risks of going Big Pharma on this. Here’s a quick-and-dirty list of some of the easier methods:
I’m not saying that increasing your testosterone using these natural methods is easy. I’m just saying it’s worth it.