If you’re a middle-aged or older man you’ve probably noticed the recent furor over a condition called Low-T, or lowered testosterone for which several medications and treatments are being widely advertised.
Typical of the conversations in the media about this issue was one recently carried in the Chicago Tribune between a reader and a physician from the Mayo Clinic.
It went like this:
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I’m a 52-year-old man. I recently had blood work done that showed my testosterone levels are slightly low, falling just below the “normal” range. Should I talk to my doctor about getting treatment even if I don’t have any symptoms? What are the side effects of prescription testosterone?
ANSWER: A mildly low level of testosterone alone, without any signs or symptoms, typically does not require treatment. But it would be a good idea for you to talk with your doctor in more detail about this test result. In some cases, low testosterone may be a sign of an underlying medical concern, or it could be a side effect from medication.
The physician then described the condition and offered this advice: “In your case, because you’re not experiencing any symptoms of disease, it’s unlikely that testosterone therapy is necessary at this time. Talk with your doctor, though, to find out if additional follow-up testing or evaluations could be useful to better understand the cause of your low testosterone.”
The 52-year-old man in this exchange is exhibiting the typical fears that some men experience as they age and they are gradually sapped of their vigor and libido. That’s normal.
But, as the physician warns, “testosterone usually is not recommended for older men who are otherwise healthy, even if their testosterone levels are slightly below what’s considered normal.
“Taking prescription testosterone does have risks. It may stimulate noncancerous growth of the prostate, cause enlarged breasts, limit sperm production and accelerate growth of existing prostate cancer. In some men, testosterone therapy can worsen sleep apnea. Recent studies also suggest there may be a link between testosterone therapy and an increased risk of heart disease.”
Testosterone therapy involves the use of FDA-approved medications such as Androgel, Androderm, Axirom, Bio-T-Gel, Delatestry, Depo-Testosterone, Fortesta, Striant, Testim and Testopel to treat low testosterone, or Low-T.
However, as alleged in a growing number of Low-T lawsuits, an increasing number of men are suffering strokes and heart attacks as a result of the medications and research studies are showing that many men are taking the drugs to ward off the symptoms of old age, rather than actually suffering from low testosterone, and may be putting themselves at serious risk of suffering a heart attack.