Testosterone therapy, risks and benefits. Testosterone is the most important male sex hormone. For various reasons, the production of testosterone may decrease, and it may be appropriate to treat testosterone. But not everybody benefits from such treatment. Considering testosterone therapy to help you feel younger and more vigorous as you age? Know the risks before you make your decision.
Testosterone levels generally peak during adolescence and early adulthood. As you get older, your testosterone level gradually declines — typically about 1 percent a year after age 30 or 40. It is important to determine in older men if a low testosterone level is simply due to the decline of normal aging or if it is due to a disease.
What is testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone found in both men and women. Men have much higher amounts than women, and testosterone is the most important male sex hormone. In men, testosterone can give body hair, deep voice and strong muscles. The correct amount of testosterone in the body keeps the sex drive at a normal level. Some people need testosterone supplements and may have it printed on prescription from a doctor.
The use of testosterone in older men has increased significantly in recent years. In accordance with international recommendations, testosterone is indicated by symptoms of and at the same time proven testosterone deficiency. Studies have shown that testosterone improves sexual function, increases bone mass and muscle strength, and improves cholesterol and counteracts insulin resistance (precursor to type 2 diabetes).
Also read: Sex, Training and Testosterone
Patients, and especially men who have had testosterone production damaged by disease or treatment, will benefit from testosterone treatment. Testosterone treatment is recommended only for this patient group. In other countries, there is a more liberal approach to such treatment.
Men with low testosterone feel tired, have low sex drive, are at risk of loss of muscle and bone mass and experience increased fatigue. Women in menopause can also have low sex drive. Men with HIV infection or AIDS can become weak and lose muscle mass. Testosterone treatment is indicated to help all of these.
Men can take testosterone as a patch, cream, gel or in syringe form. Women can take testosterone in pills or as a syringe.
Also read: Symptoms of low testosterone in men
No research has been done to know what happens when someone takes testosterone for a long time. Some believe that testosterone treatment can cause prostate cancer or breast cancer. High doses can damage the liver, the blood and the heart. A study from 2013 showed that testosterone treatment increases the risk of death or severe cardiovascular disease in men over 60 years who had symptoms of angina pectoris.
In men, high doses of testosterone may cause the prostate gland to grow and the number of red blood cells in the blood to increase. Women can get “male hair” on the body and lose hair on their heads. Both women and men can get acne.
Also read: Testosterone supplements provide a good effect
Testosterone as doping
Anabolic steroids are testosterone compounds used by male and female athletes for performance promotion. Their use has significantly influenced international sports over the past 50 years. In recent times, supplements like dehydroepiandrosterone, a testosterone precursor, have gained popularity. This substance can raise the testosterone levels in the body. Many athletes believe it will promote their achievements, but some clear evidence of it does not exist.
The supply of testosterone externally weakens the function of the testicles by virtually entering into a sleep state where testosterone production is completely or partially terminated (testicular failure). This can also affect the regulation of other hormones. When testosterone is applied externally, the body will try to maintain a normal hormone level, and via the “feedback” system, the self-production of testosterone decreases as a result of the additional supply. This significantly weakens the production of sperm cells and can cause sterility (infertility) which in some cases may be prolonged (years) and sometimes permanent.
Other side effects are breast development in men, acne, adverse cholesterol, increased body hair and stronger muscles in women. Use of testosterone and testosterone precursors is perceived to be a serious health hazard.