Over the past few years anyone who’s turned on a TV or opened up a Web browser has probably been bombarded with come-ons about low testosterone – or “low T” – and the crucial role the hormone plays in a man’s health. And with good reason. After all, the problem of testosterone deficiency is in many ways the perfect medical problem: It’s easy to correct with supplemental doses of the hormone, and treating it combats an array of inevitable, age-related conditions: depression, low energy, inability to build muscle, trouble sleeping, waning libido, even heart problems. Now, thanks to a savvy, shame-free marketing campaign by various companies offering testosterone gels – the “low T” business is booming. Sales of supplemental testosterone have more than doubled since 2006 and there are as many as 5.6 million men estimated to be currently taking testosterone. Men over 40 are showing up at their doctor’s office wondering if their T levels are high enough, and whether they could benefit from cranking them up a notch.
But, as promising as hormone replacement is, the intricacies of our body chemistry largely remain a mystery, and there’s still little consensus over which patients actually need testosterone supplements and what levels are considered abnormally low. Though the potential repercussions of the therapy – the lowering of sperm production and the possible hastening of existing prostate cancer – are understood and acknowledged, there is no shortage of men looking to take advantage of a little hormonal edge.
“You have all the drug companies pushing their formulations, and saying that testosterone replacement is the be-all, end-all,” says Dr. Gregory Bernstein, a urologist at Washington Urology at Virginia Hospital Center. “But the fact is, this is sort of in its infancy still. There’s a lot we don’t know about testosterone.”
Source: mens journal