Eight Myths About Testosterone That Must Go!
Even though Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) has been safely used since the 1930s, there are eight myths about Testosterone that must go!
Eight Myths About Testosterone
Patients have used Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) since the 1930s, yet many myths exist about its safety. Here are eight myths about Testosterone and the reality behind its benefits.
1) Testosterone Causes Prostate Cancer
The research behind this myth goes back to 1941 when a doctor noted that one of his patients with metastatic prostate cancer lived longer after being castrated. Analysis of more than 250,000 medical records of Swedish men indicated the exact opposite. Men undergoing TRT for over a year reduced their risk of prostate cancer by 50 percent.
In another study, researchers in the United Kingdom looked at 1,400 men who had received TRT for up to 20 years. There were only 14 cases of prostate cancer throughout the study.
2) High Testosterone Leads to Hair Loss
This myth may be the best known about testosterone therapy. For decades, people believed that men experiencing male pattern baldness had higher levels of Testosterone. Baldness is genetically determined. Some testosterone in the body does convert to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This substance can bind to hair follicles and weaken them, eventually causing the hair to fall out. However, genetics have more to do with hair loss than elevated testosterone levels.
Over-the-counter Minoxidil and prescription Propecia help prevent the formation of DHT and are effective treatments.
3) Testosterone Increases the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
In 2016, a small sample of studies caused the FDA to worry about Testosterone. The authors of one study examined a large group of men who’d been on TRT for three months. Young men with a history of cardiovascular disease showed a 2 to 3x increase in the risk of a heart attack. Men over 65 who started TRT had a two-fold increase in the risk of heart attack, regardless of their cardiovascular history.
However, there were several problems with the study:
- The study didn’t measure Testosterone levels before or after treatment. Therefore, there’s no way to know if the subjects started with low Testosterone or just received too much Testosterone.
- However, the study didn’t monitor estrogen or red blood cell levels. Elevated levels of both of these can cause heart problems.
- The control group in the study was on a drug to prevent heart attacks, so comparing the two groups is like comparing “apples and oranges.”
An article published in The Journal of the American Heart Association found higher Testosterone levels were essential to heart health. Low Testosterone levels were associated with higher overall mortality rates, cardiovascular mortality, obesity, and diabetes.
Other conditions associated with low Testosterone include:
- Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
- Narrowing of carotid arteries
- Abnormal EKG
- More frequent congestive heart failure
- Increased incidence of angina
- Increased body mass index
- Type II diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome
- Insulin resistance
- Increased belly fat
- A higher death rate from all causes, including cardiac mortality
In addition to the above findings, scientists at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute studied 755 heart patients between the ages of 58 and 78 that tested low in Testosterone. Two groups of men received TRT, while one served as the placebo.
After one year:
- Sixty-four patients who weren’t on Testosterone replacement therapy suffered a major cardiovascular event (stroke, heart attack, or death).
- Only 12 patients on medium doses of Testosterone experienced a major cardiovascular event.
- Only nine patients on high doses of Testosterone experienced a major cardiovascular event.
In other words, the patients NOT taking Testosterone were 80% more likely to suffer an adverse event.
4) Testosterone Increases Aggressive Behavior
Myths about Testosterone abound. These include believing that men with high testosterone levels are more often moody, depressed, and angry. Meanwhile, men with normal or low testosterone levels are typically more friendly and pleasant.
Dr. Christina Wang of UCLA found the opposite. Men with low levels of Testosterone were more likely to be aggressive than men with high Testosterone. Once men with lower levels of Testosterone received Testosterone replacement, their attitude and anger disappeared.
However, very high doses of Testosterone can create aggressive tendencies. Of course, “roid rage” can occur in men predisposed to such behavior.
5) Men Should Only Take Testosterone if Their Levels are “Low”
Unfortunately, most doctors don’t typically measure Testosterone levels. If they do, they typically only measure “total Testosterone” This is the total amount of Testosterone in the bloodstream.
These numbers may range from 300 to 1100 ng/dL (nanograms per deciliter of blood). However, even if the results indicate that you have “normal” testosterone levels, it might not be normal for you. Maybe your Testosterone levels were 1,000 in your twenties but now are only 400. While this may still be considered “within normal limits” (WNL), it may not be optimal for you.
There is also a substance called “steroid hormone binding globulin,” or SHBG. This substance binds to sex hormones, making them inactive. This hormone can affect up to 60% of your Testosterone and can increase as you grow older. The higher these levels, the less Testosterone is available to do “the good stuff.” So, while your Testosterone level may be “high,” much of it could be unusable. When looking at your testosterone levels, your doctor should look at “total” testosterone levels and “free” testosterone levels.
Determining normal Testosterone levels can be complicated. Regardless of lab values, symptoms of decreased testosterone levels are significant in determining the need for supplementation.
6) The Main Symptom of Low-T is Erectile Dysfunction (ED).
Many men seek BHRT because they’re having trouble with erections or experiencing a diminished sex drive. However, this tends to be a symptom that shows up after many others. Low testosterone symptoms typically begin with decreased energy, increased body or belly fat, depression, and difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
7) Women Don’t Need Testosterone Replacement.
Estrogen is the hormone most often associated with women. However, testosterone levels in healthy women are about ten times higher than estrogen levels. Testosterone plays a huge role in maintaining women’s health, psyche, and libido, just like in men.
Like in men, low Testosterone levels in women cause many symptoms. These include decreased bone density and muscle mass, increased body fat, and reduced sexual desire and energy. However, it’s essential for women to work with a provider skilled in testosterone replacement.
8) Testosterone Replacement Will Cause Your Testicles to Shrink and Reduce Your Sperm Count
Of the eight myths about Testosterone, there’s a little truth to this one. Introducing additional Testosterone into your body will suppress its normal production. As a result, the testicles may reduce overall volume, and sperm production can slow or stop. In fact, the World Health Organization discussed using steroids as a male contraceptive.
Some supplements help maximize the benefits of BHRT and counteract these effects. We encourage patients to wait until their family is complete before starting BHRT therapy. However, these effects are temporary, and symptoms typically rebound within a few weeks of cessation.
Are your Testosterone Levels low?
The first step to starting BHRT is to learn your Testosterone levels. The testing is simple, inexpensive, and fast. Contact our preferred provider to schedule your blood draw today for only $99!
Like in men, low Testosterone levels in women cause many symptoms. These include decreased bone density and muscle mass, gains in body fat, and decreases in sexual desire and energy. However, it’s essential for women to work with a provider skilled in testosterone replacement (like our preferred BHRT providers).