Risks And Realities Of OTC Testosterone Supplements
Testosterone is the key male sex hormone which serves several primary functions in the body; such as boosting sexual drive, increasing sperm count, stabilizing bone density and muscle mass (to name a few). The hormone peaks in the serum at the time of puberty and early adulthood. However, as a man ages, the testosterone levels tend to decline and this dip in secretion negatively affects the sexual desire and interest in sex. Loss of sexual drive or inability to perform well in the bedroom can also be due to other physiological and/or pathological factors; yet most men feel that testosterone supplementation can fix all of their sex-related issues (which is not always true).
What Should You Know About The Testosterone Supplementation?
Hypogonadism is a condition in which the body is unable to produce sufficient amounts of testosterone on its own, which may or may not be symptomatic. In most cases, sexual dysfunction and fading libido are early signs of hypogonadism. Several surveys and clinical trials suggests that the inability to perform well in the bedroom due to erectile dysfunction can lead to depression and other problems in the intimate relationships.
According to Mayo Clinic, this condition can be treated with testosterone supplementation/ therapy. However, effectiveness of testosterone supplements in healthy men is unclear. A study was published in Nature Reviews Endocrinology, according to which, there is no scientific reason for men over the age of 65 years (with normal or low testosterone levels) to take testosterone supplementation.
What Are The Risks Of Testosterone Supplementation?
Testosterone therapy can actually cause health problems rather than sorting out your issues. Several clinical studies have statistically proven that testosterone supplementation is linked to an aggravated risk of heart diseases. In a 2010 study, published in peer-reviewed The New England journal of Medicine (2), investigators identified that men over the age of 65 are more vulnerable to develop cardiovascular ailments after using testosterone gels.
In another study that was conducted on two groups of men on testosterone supplementation; group A with younger men who were at risk of heart diseases and group B of older men with healthy heart condition, It was found that the risk of heart attack and sudden cardiac death increases in both groups (regardless of age and risk status) after initiating the testosterone supplementation.
In 2013 an experimental study was conducted on laboratory rats and it yield alarming results. From studies it was concluded that testosterone supplements predisposes to prostrate tumor in animal subjects.
Just like other medications, testosterone therapy is also associated with serious side effects, especially when given for the management of physiological aging instead of treating a condition. Besides increasing the risk of heart and prostrate diseases, testosterone therapy is also associated with other side effects such as,
- Sleep apnea i.e. interruption of breathing during sleep
- Shrinkage of testicles
- Enlargement of breasts
- Acne flares
Risks And Realities Of OTC Testosterone Supplements
Over the counter testosterone supplements might seem a magical solution for all your manly problems but here are some facts which you should consider,
A Controlled Substance
The actual testosterone supplements are not sold as OTC medicines! In United States these hormonal analogues are categorized under controlled substances and it is illegal to sell them as OTC drugs.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not always regulate supplements and they may not be thoroughly subjected to quality control. Therefore, a great possibility is that these supplements are being manufactured under substandard conditions.
Although, such supplements are claimed to be made up of natural substances still there is a chance that they may contain some prescription drugs which are not mentioned on the label and can create serious health problems.
Although such products claim to enhance masculinity but still there isn’t any proof of their effectiveness or safety because such supplements are not thoroughly studied during clinical trials.
Uncertain Results And Outcomes
Since OTC testosterone preparations are available in various concentrations and formulations, it is difficult to predict the bioavailability. According to a study reported in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine (4), investigators explained that the absorption of testosterone varies from person to person and depends on several factors such as age, body mass index, route of administration, site of administration etc.
Therefore, speak to your doctor before initiating testosterone supplementation to minimize the risk of unexpected outcomes.
1. Bassil, N., Alkaade, S., & Morley, J. E. (2009). The benefits and risks of testosterone replacement therapy: a review. Ther Clin Risk Manag, 5(3), 427-48.
2. Giltay, E. J., Tishova, Y. A., Mskhalaya, G. J., Gooren, L. J., Saad, F., & Kalinchenko, S. Y. (2010). Effects of testosterone supplementation on depressive symptoms and sexual dysfunction in hypogonadal men with the metabolic syndrome. The journal of sexual medicine, 7(7), 2572-2582.
3. Scovell, J., Ramasamy, R., & Kovac, J. R. (2014). A critical analysis of testosterone supplementation therapy and cardiovascular risk in elderly men. Canadian Urological Association Journal, 8(5-6), E356.
4. Green, G. A., Catlin, D. H., & Starcevic, B. (2001). Analysis of over-the-counter dietary supplements. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 11(4), 254-259.