A casual perusal of night time television, the sports channels, or the masculine adventure channels will reveal a plethora of ads for testosterone therapy for men who think they have low “T” (testosterone). While twenty-five percent of the males over age 45 have lower than normal testosterone levels, only a small segment of these males have any symptoms of low testosterone which include: decreased libido, depression, osteoporosis, decreased energy.
In fact, most of the time these symptoms can be attributed to other poor health entities such as high blood pressure, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, coronary artery disease, high cholesterol, poor peripheral circulation, overweight, or lack of exercise.
Many men who have one or more of these situations also have lower than normal testosterone levels but there is no evidence that the low testosterone causes these problems. In fact, when lifestyle changes are made to bring some of these situations under control – like losing excess weight, bringing diabetes under control, increasing exercise, controlling hypertension, the low testosterone levels tend to self-correct.
Medically, endocrinologists recommend that testosterone should be used only for men who have proven low “T” and also have symptoms – because testosterone treatment carries the risk of increased heart attacks and strokes, hypertension, increased PSA levels with the increased risk of breast cancer and prostate enlargement and/or cancer as well as a host of other side effects.
Then why the big direct marketing push on television, in the publishing media, and on the internet? After the age of 25, men in general have decreased libido, decreasing body strength, and decreasing energy levels as they age. With these perceptions of weakness a man’s male ego is at risk. Like any athlete, performance enhancing medications seem to be the answer for a quick reversal of these seeming signs of weakness and less maleness.
Two facts should be considered. First, in males – who do not have low “T” and do not have specific symptoms – there is no evidence that there is any improvement in sexual performance, energy levels, or body strength. Second, those males who are taking testosterone should be followed closely for side effects by a medical person as the side effects can be deadly.
Healthy lifestyle choices – maintaining ideal weight, regular exercise, lowering blood fats, regular sleep patterns, and lowering stress reactions is probably as effective as medication in maintaining testosterone levels, male prowess, and body strength commensurate with age – without the risk of side effects. Make the choice to set aside male ego and reach for good health instead.