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…
Testosterone Therapy Lowers Fertility
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).
- Decreased Sperm Count. Doctors in multiple states have reported reduced sperm counts in patients receiving testosterone therapy. Research as to why still hasn’t been funded, but there are some guesses. Testosterone in moderate amounts is responsible for stimulating sperm production. Ultra-high testosterone levels (like patients get in testosterone therapy) might trick the body into thinking it’s produced enough.
- Reduced Testicular Function. One of the most common side effects of testosterone therapy is testicular shrinkage. Like sperm count, what little research has been done points to the body thinking it has plenty of testosterone, meaning it stops maintaining the glands involved in its production.
Either way, if you want to have kids seriously reconsider testosterone therapy.
Testosterone Therapy Increases Estrogen
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 .
Depression and type 2 diabetes are also associated with too much estrogen in the male blood stream.
TRT Can Lead to Chemical Dependence
You won’t get heroin-style addicted to testosterone therapy, but your body can develop a physical dependence.
It works like this:
- Step One: Your body produces too little testosterone
- Step Two: You flood your body with testosterone from an outside source
- Step Three: The systems in your body that detect testosterone notice all the extra testosterone.
- Step Four: Those systems tell your body to produce even less testosterone
- Step Five: You need more external testosterone to make up the shortfall
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.
Testosterone Therapy Can Kill You
I mean literally dying here. Rare, but real, side effects of testosterone therapy include:
- Liver toxicity, which can kill you the same way as severe alcoholism
- Cardiac problems, which can kill you with a heart attack
- Blood clots, which can kill you via a stroke
Full disclosure: these conditions are rare side effects. And men who experience them rarely actually die. But deaths from testosterone therapy do happen (source).
TRT Often Fails To Improve Erections
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:
- Water retention
- Oily skin and acne
- Enlarged prostate
- Poor sleep
- Sleep apnea
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:
- Cycle Testosterone-Friendly Supplements. Don’t rely on a regular dose of a single one. That will cause dependency and resistance just like testosterone.
- Lose Weight. Healthy body weight helps your endocrine system regulate hormones, including testosterone.
- Power Lifting and Sprinting. Both kinds of exercise directly and immediately stimulate your body to produce more testosterone.
- Get 8 Hours of Sleep. Enough sleep keeps all of your body’s functions working properly. Plus it helps you stay energized to stick with the other items on this list.
- Get Outside. Your body needs Vitamin D to make testosterone. Sunlight is the best source of Vitamin D. Turn off the computer and go outdoors.
Testosterone Therapy Risks – Conclusion:
I’m not saying that increasing your testosterone using these natural methods is easy. I’m just saying it’s worth it.