Is there a chance that testosterone could be the proverbial fountain of youth? Some “anti-aging” doctors have controversially been prescribing the male sexual hormone as a way to slow down aging, but is this really safe? Does it even work?
Here’s what you need to know about if the risks of using anti-aging supplements are worth the reward.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is the key hormone needed in the development of secondary sexual characteristics in men. The hormone is also used to regulate fat distribution, bone and muscle mass, and strength. The more testosterone a man has, the more “manly” they are.
Testosterone also plays an important part in regulation the sex drive/libido, and both men and women produce this hormone. Women will produce much smaller amounts of testosterone, however. Similar to how men still produce estrogen – the female equivalent of testosterone – but only produce small amounts.
Men produce the most testosterone during their adolescence and in early adulthood. Testosterone production declines with age, but many men still produce enough testosterone all throughout their lives.
Testosterone incorrectly takes the blame for a number of age-related sexual problems. For example; erectile dysfunction has nothing to do with testosterone. It is actually caused most commonly by circulation problems. High blood pressure is more likely to be the cause of erectile dysfunction problems than a lack of testosterone.
Given that testosterone affects the sex drive, it could be responsible for a lack of libido, but it’s not the reason you can’t get an erection when you really want one.
The idea of male menopause, which is also sometimes known as the viropause or andropause, is a term that has been created to describe how men change when they grow older.
Much of the discussion of the andropause revolves around a decline in levels of testosterone, but there’s no solid evidence that a “male menopause” exists. It takes a very long time, years even, for male testosterone levels to decline. It’s a slow and gradual process.
Most men will have “normal” levels of testosterone production for pretty much their entire lives. It’s not like you’ll wake up one day with no testosterone at all. There is a big difference between having less testosterone and having a testosterone deficiency.
Can Testosterone Supplements Help?
Testosterone supplements can be used to help men that aren’t producing enough testosterone or have stopped producing it entirely. There hasn’t been much research at all that looks into the effects of healthy men taking testosterone supplements.
There are currently several studies conducted to determine the risks and benefits of taking testosterone supplements as a healthy male who produces enough testosterone already. Time will tell the results of these studies.
If you really have a testosterone deficiency, then testosterone supplements can be a great help. If not, then there’s no real evidence to suggest they can.
Risks of Testosterone Supplementation
Researchers and physicians alike are worried about the effects of testosterone supplementation; believing that it could increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.
Another concern is that increasing testosterone levels can make existing cancer grow quicker. It could also potentially cause blood to thicken by producing an abundance of red blood cells. When the blood is too thick, the risk of strokes and heart attacks goes up.
The Bottom Line
Testosterone supplements can be used as a legitimate medical treatment for men with a serious lack of testosterone. There is anecdotal evidence from some men that taking testosterone supplements increased their muscle mass and energy, but there hasn’t been any research that has proven these claims to be true.
Even so, there are great risks to taking testosterone supplements, and these risks may not be worth the potential – unproven – results. The bottom line is that you shouldn’t be using testosterone as an anti-aging method. There are better, safer, alternatives out there. Leave testosterone supplementation for the people who need it.