Abnormally low testosterone levels in men are typically caused by a condition called “hypogonadism.” Patients with hypogonadism can’t produce enough testosterone to maintain normal levels. They’re typically treated with testosterone replacement therapy, or TRT. TRT is crucial to the treatment of people suffering from hypogonadism and is also used in cases where one or both testicles have been removed due to testicular cancer or injury. TRT products originated to treat hypogonadism.
What Is Low T?
The answer may surprise you. It’s not a disease. It’s not hypogonadism. It’s not a technical medical condition. At its root, low T is a marketing term. It refers to the natural decline in men’s testosterone levels as they age. It’s also called “andropause,” drawing a comparison between it and menopause. However, the idea of andropause is debated in the medical community because it’s a slow, protracted process rather than a drastic hormonal change, like menopause. Typically, testosterone levels drop by a couple of percent a year as men reach middle age. This is entirely natural and not a symptom of a disease. Low T is touted as the cause of low energy and libido, weight gain, and other side effects. It is increasingly being treated with TRT.
The idea of “low T” started with the makers of Androgel, a TRT drug. They started a website to help men self-diagnose with low T and used an aggressive marketing campaign to spread the idea that low T is a disease that requires treatment. Their ads suggested that millions of men were suffering from low T and that the vast majority of them were undiagnosed. Millions of men rushed to their doctors to demand hormone tests and TRT in order to lose weight, feel more energized, and increase libido. Many doctors complied, leading to a booming TRT market worth billions of dollars. However, evidence now suggests that just a tiny fraction of men actually have testosterone levels low enough to merit treatment. Just over 0.5% of men in their 50s, 3% of men in their 60s, and 5% of men in their 70s actually have testosterone levels low enough to require treatment.
Unfortunately, this story of over-prescription doesn’t end with weight loss and boosted sex drives. The FDA issued a warning earlier this year to inform consumers that the safety and efficacy of TRT to treat aging-related testosterone levels is not supported by any research. In fact, TRT is associated with a significantly higher risk of heart attack and stroke. One study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that patients treated with TRT had more than four times the incidences of heart attacks and strokes compared with patients taking a placebo. In other words, TRT is a powerful and dangerous treatment, not a casual supplement.
How Is Low T Diagnosed?
So, do you have normal testosterone levels or do you need TRT? Your doctor can test your testosterone levels to determine whether they’re low. Take that information with a grain of salt. “Normal” testosterone levels vary between 300 and 1000 ng/dL (nanograms per deciliter). However, that range is an average over all men. That means it includes men of all ages, shapes, and sizes. So, the “right” level of testosterone for you may be very different from the right level for the average male, depending on a number of factors. In an ideal world, your testosterone would be tested over time against a baseline level taken when you’re young. If you’ve never had testosterone levels higher than 400 ng/dL, then it’s no surprise that that level would drop to 350 ng/dL. If, on the contrary, your level has dropped from 900 ng/dL to 350 ng/dL, that may be cause for concern. For now, doctors are limited to comparing your testosterone levels to the baseline. If your level is on the lower end and you have symptoms of low testosterone, you may be prescribed TRT.
What’s wrong with TRT?
As mentioned above, TRT is associated with a substantially increased risk of strokes, heart attacks, and death. It’s not just an energy supplement or a drug to be taken casually. It’s a powerful hormone with powerful side effects. Testosterone is the top anabolic steroid abused by athletes around the world. Unfortunately, pervasive low T marketing has led millions of healthy men to take testosterone supplements in order to boost energy and libido, putting them at risk for the serious side effects associated with those drugs.
In addition to the risks for the men taking the drugs, testosterone replacement therapy can hurt other people. Testosterone is most commonly administered as a patch or a gel. If women or children come into contact with that patch or gel, they can get a big dose of testosterone. That can cause facial hair growth, deepening of the voice, and other side effects in women. It can spur children into early puberty and destabilize their hormone levels. Just touching an article of clothing or a piece of furniture that the patch or gel has rubbed up against may be enough to expose women and children to dangerous levels of testosterone.
Remember, those who suffer from hypogonadism absolutely need TRT to remain healthy. The problem is that healthy men are exposing themselves and those around them to unnecessary risks because of aggressive marketing campaigns suggesting that they are sick and in need of treatment.
Is TRT Right For You?
The only one who can answer that question is your doctor. If you’re concerned about your testosterone levels, speak to your doctor about your symptoms. She can determine whether your symptoms indicate a serious hormonal imbalance. Don’t fall for websites purporting to diagnose low T – they’re designed and run by the makers of testosterone replacement products and designed to encourage you to ask your doctor for TRT. Your doctor can run tests and help you understand your options for treating your symptoms.
Have you suffered a serious side effect while taking TRT?
If so, you may be entitled to compensation. Thousands of men with no history of circulatory or heart problems have filed suit against the makers of testosterone replacement drugs after suffering strokes or heart attacks. The lawsuits allege that the makers of the drug knew of the risks and improperly marketed the drugs to people who didn’t actually need them. Contact us today for a free consultation to evaluate your case and learn more about the kind of compensation you may be entitled to.
Even if you haven’t suffered any side effects, it’s recommended that you reach out to your doctor to discuss whether an alternative to TRT may be better for you.