Older men are being spammed with commercials about testosterone that can be misleading. These commercials claim that having low testosterone is the cause of pretty common symptoms like being tired, depressed, and other things that come with aging.
These same commercials claim that taking testosterone supplements is the end all be all cure. At first, it makes sense. Testosterone is something that is naturally occurring in your body, if you are low, then it makes sense that there are consequences.
But is taking extra testosterone safe?
What Exactly Is Testosterone?
You need to get some facts straight about what testosterone is, before knowing if taking the supplement is safe. Testosterone is not a male exclusive hormone. It’s produced in more in men than women, just like estrogen is produced more in women than men.
Your testicles are what make testosterone in your body. Its production ramps up during puberty which is why all of sudden hair appears on your body and your voice starts to change. It stabilizes and then starts to dip after you turn 30.
It doesn’t only help with your sex drive. It also affects your bones and muscle mass, the way you store the fat in your body, and even red blood cell production. It can also affect your mood.
This is why commercials are blaming low testosterone on any problem that you may have. Testosterone actually affects more than you realize, and it can be a cause for why you may feel “off” in your body.
Why Would You Need To Take Testosterone Supplements?
Before you go and grab any old supplements, you should know the real reason you should take them. Not just because you aren’t feeling the greatest.
You would need to take testosterone supplements if you truly suffer from low testosterone levels, also known as Hypogonadism medically. It can happen naturally as you age, but injuries to the testicles or cancer can also cause this problem.
Symptoms can include:
- Decreased Sex Drive
- Less Energy
- Weight Gain
- Feelings of Depression
- Low Self-Esteem
- Less Body Hair
- Thinner Bones
- Messed Up Sleep
- Erectile Dysfunction
Before you start to think you have this problem, these are some fairly common symptoms to a number of other diseases. Again, this is why commercials prey on older men and the want of testosterone supplements have raised so much in the past few years.
There’s an easy way to find out if you have low testosterone levels or not. A simple blood test can show you your testosterone levels. The normal range level is between 250 and 1100 ng/dL for adult males and 8 and 60 ng/dL for adult females.
You should bring up your concerns to your doctor before making any decisions. They will ask for the test and talk about the options for you. They may have concerns about taking testosterone while taking certain medications.
How Can You Take Testosterone?
You can get testosterone through pills, injections, powders, gels, and patches. Each of these methods have their pros and cons.
Injections can give way to easy abuse. Gels and patches can rub off onto others if you don’t wash it off carefully.
Are Testosterone Supplements Safe?
More than 2 million men in the US have been taking extra testosterone. You would think that means it’s safe. But currently, the FDA has only approved taking extra testosterone for men who have Hypogonadism.
Supplements that have testosterone are actually considered a controlled substance and you can only get it through a prescription.
Despite that, it’s still being thrown as the first thing for men who have lower sex drives.
Symptoms Of Taking Testosterone
Taking testosterone as part of testosterone replacement therapy, which is when you take it seriously due to low testosterone, there are some side effects. With testosterone replacement therapy, you may have severe symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, trouble breathing, weakness in a part of your body, or slurred speech.
If you have any of these problems, you need medical attention asap.
There is also some evidence, but no solid conclusions that testosterone therapy long term can give you heart problems and sleep apnea.
Long Term Consequences Of Taking It
There have been some concerns that taking testosterone supplements can increase your chance of getting prostate cancer. So far, there is no connection, but scientists are continuing to research. This is a concern because it can activate your prostate glands.
You also need to understand that your body will stop making testosterone when you take the supplements. This means you will need to take them for the rest of your life.
This is why many doctors are calling it a “Testosterone Trap.”
Possible Abuse Of Testosterone
One of the most dangerous aspects of taking these supplements is doing it on your own. It’s easy to abuse this, especially if you are using it to gain muscles. If you have too much, you can have aggressive episodes or even violent behavior.
Remember, testosterone affects your mood, so it can feel like someone flipped a switch and you are acting differently.
Symptoms Of Having Too Much Testosterone
There are a variety of changes that your body can have while being on a testosterone treatment. One of the more positive ones is gaining larger muscles. Less fun ones include oily skin and fluid retention. Your testicles may shrink as well.
This can make it hard to conceive if you are trying to have a child.
The immediate symptoms are acne, problems with breathing, breast tenderness, and swelling in the ankles.
Over The Counter Testosterone Supplements
When people don’t get the prescription that they want, they may turn to over the counter supplements. These products promise to boost your testosterone “naturally.”
The thing is, they contain no testosterone or hormones. Instead, they have herbs that are supposed to boost your testosterone production. Though studies have shown their effects are pretty limited.
You need to talk to your doctor before you take them. Also, make sure to look at the ingredients before taking them. Some of them are more effective than others. Some may even cause damage if you take too much of them.
This is one of the most common ingredients found in these boosters and supplements. It’s an herb that’s also known as the puncture vine. It’s been used to treat impotence and infertility.
People claim that it increases the production of different hormones, including testosterone. Athletes use it to make their performances better.
Research has shown that it’s not really good at boosting testosterone as it claims.
DHEA stands for dehydroepiandrosterone. It’s a mouthful.
This is a hormone that you make naturally. Some studies have shown that it helps boost testosterone levels in middle aged men. The only problem is that there isn’t enough research to show how it impacts the body as a whole.
Possible side effects are hair loss, upset stomach, and high blood pressure. It can also mess with certain medications.
This is made naturally in your liver and kidneys. It’s long been used to build muscles. It’s usually included because a low testosterone level symptom is a decrease in muscle mass.
There’s no evidence that it helps with testosterone.
This stands for hydroxymethl butyrate. It’s another thing you make naturally in your body. There’s no evidence that it helps with testosterone.
It may help with muscle mass and strength when you are weight training. Again, this is why it’s included.
This is a natural amino acid. It helps widen blood vessels. It’s helps with heart disease, high blood pressure, and erectile dysfunction.
It can actually become toxic when taken in doses of more than 30 grams. It can increase the risk of bleeding, affecting blood sugar levels, high levels of blood potassium, and low blood pressure.
Do You Even Need To Use Testosterone Supplements?
There is probably a good chance that you don’t actually need to take these supplements. Despite what commercials say, there is a small percentage of men that actually need to take extra testosterone.
Instead, you should think about other things that could be making you feel bad. Many of the symptoms of low testosterone can be caused by other problems as well.
Are you tired because you aren’t getting enough quality sleep? Are you having low energy because you are eating poorly? Junk food will give you energy for a while, but then you will crash hard.
Are there any psychological reasons that your sex drive is low? Are you depressed? Stressed?
You should check out any of these paths before you go to the testosterone supplement route.
It’s good to realize that adding more testosterone will not make you feel younger. It’s not a hidden fountain of youth that no one is talking about.
You also need to talk to you doctor before you decide to take anything. If you aren’t careful, you could seriously harm yourself and make changes to your body that are irreversible.