Low testosterone has become somewhat of a boogieman to older men in our society. Also known by its medical term hypogonadism, “Low T” is blamed for an entire series of naturally occurring phenomenon such as decreased energy and lowered libido. In fact, it does cause these symptoms, but all men experience them as they get older, and they simply do not pose a threat to individual health.
Doctors ask their patients leading questions to convince them they should be taking testosterone supplements. However, the real question patients should be asking themselves is “Are the Low testosterone treatment side effects worth the risks?” This important question often goes unasked.
Those who do inquire as to what the downsides of this supposedly miraculous treatment are will realize quickly that testosterone supplements are not the miracle cure they are often touted to be. In addition to increasing energy and libido, they also increase risk of heart attack, stroke, and the development of blood clots in extremely important areas of the body such as the legs and lungs. Other side effects include unpleasant rashes and irritation at the injection site and worsening of existing conditions such as benign prostatic hypertrophy and sleep apnea.
These side effects all appear relatively quickly. The long-term side effects of this treatment are unknown, as large-scale, long-term clinical trials have not been performed. Doctors can help their patients to decide if testosterone treatment is right for them, but it’s important for patients to take the initiative and inquire about the unpleasant, and sometimes fatal, side effects that could easily outweigh any benefits they could receive. It’s unfortunate that so much misinformation surrounds the use of these controversial treatments, but there are circumstances under which testosterone treatment is appropriate.
For those experiencing true hypogonadism related to an inability to produce enough testosterone over the course of their lifetimes rather than a completely natural decrease in testosterone production due to age, the potential danger and side effects of this treatment may be worth it. It’s important to distinguish between those that can truly benefit from treatment and others who are being exploited by pharmaceutical companies wanting to profit from the patients’ absolutely normal decreases in virility.