Men with low testosterone levels, sometimes referred to as “Low T,” often encounter a lower sex drive, energy loss, and erectile dysfunction. Millions of men wishing to treat the symptoms brought on by “Low T” have sought the use of various testosterone therapies to increase their performance, both physically and sexually.
While most pharmaceutical companies market the hormone therapy as a relatively safe or natural way to regain desirable youthful characteristics, many of the products have been known to cause serious side effects, including blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks.
On October 25, 2016, the Federal Drug Administration released a statement announcing a class-wide labeling change for all prescription testosterone products, adding a new “Warning” and updating the “Abuse and Dependence” section to include new safety information from published reports and studies regarding the risks associated with the drug.
“The new warning will alert prescribers to the abuse potential of testosterone and the serious adverse outcomes, especially those related to heart and mental health that have been reported in association with testosterone/anabolic androgenic steroid abuse,” the FDA said in their release.
The release also included a new list of serious adverse outcomes, including heart attack, heart failure, stroke, depression, hostility, aggression, liver, toxicity, and male infertility.
“Individuals abusing high doses of testosterone have also reported withdrawal symptoms, such as depression, fatigue, irritability, loss of appetite, decreased libido and insomnia,” the FDA added.
Want to see the FDA’s full statement regarding the safety of testosterone therapy? http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm526151.htm?source=govdelivery&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery
Testosterone is a naturally occurring steroid hormone found in both men and women. It’s produced predominantly in the testes, but is also produced in smaller amounts in the ovaries and adrenal cortex. In men, the hormone helps trigger the development of male sexual traits and helps maintain muscle development, bone mass, sex drive, and hair growth. In women, the hormone is part of a mix of hormones that helps regulate mood, energy levels and sex drive.
Testosterone therapy is used to provide an adequate level of testosterone replacement if testosterone levels drops below the average range, which is 300- 1000 ng/dL, as reported by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Typically, low testosterone levels (also called hypogonadism) are caused when the body does not produce enough hormones because of a issue with the pituitary gland or the testicles.
The amount of testosterone produced in the body decreased naturally with age, with more than 20 percent of men reporting lower testosterone numbers by their early 60s, according to the Urology Care Foundation. By the age of 80, more than 50 percent of men have “Low T” numbers.
Different medications and testosterone treatments have been available to patients since the 40s, but it wasn’t until the late 90s and early 2000s that consumers saw the rise of the easy to apply “Low T” gels and testosterone sales skyrocketed. Thousands of ads and commercials market the Low T products to middle aged and senior men, asking if they feel more tired than usual or if they’re having trouble becoming aroused, often encouraging them to begin hormone therapy at earlier age than necessary.
The medications and treatments that were originally only prescribed to men with dangerously low levels of testosterone, has become a commodity for aging men wishing to regain portions of their youth.
Drug companies are continuing to market and sell a variety of popular and frequently prescribed testosterone therapy options, even though many varieties have been known to cause dangerous and serious side effects, such as heart attacks, strokes and blood clots.
In 2013, The New York Times reported more than 11 million men were using some form of testosterone therapy, a number three times bigger than the last report in 2001. More than a quarter of the men using the drugs never received a blood test prior to receiving their prescription and were diagnosed simply on having fatigue or erectile dysfunction. (NYT article for link http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/03/mens-use-of-hormone-on-the-rise/?_r=0 )
Testosterone Supplements, Products and Brands
Products offering to help cure “Low T” come in many forms- gels, injections, patches, vitamins, and pills. The products often pitch the idea of a“New Man” feeling- both in energy, physical performance and sexual capabilities.
Various side effects have been reported with use of each of these supplements.
Popular products and product types:
- Injections: Depo-testosterone, Delatestryl, Actavis, Nebido/Aveed
- Topical gels: AndroGel, Vogelxo, Testim, Fortesta and Axiron
- Nasal gels: Natesto
- Adhesive patches: Androderm and Testoderm
- Boosters: Testofen, DHEA
- Mucoadhesive: Striant (tablet that adheres to the inner cheek and gum area)
- Pills, capsules: Testred, Android, and Halotestin