Can I Please Get A Second Opinion Dr.S?
5 Testosterone Myths
Does testosterone cause baldness? Does it inspire violent behavior? The author of Testosterone For Life explains.
By Abraham Morgentaler, MD,
Page 1: 5 Testosterone Myths
Check out these 5 testosterone myths
Thanks to stories about doping Olympic athletes, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, the words “testosterone” or “steroids” create unsavory associations. However, testosterone is a key hormone that has numerous important and beneficial functions in men. In fact, if it weren’t for testosterone, all little boys would be born with a labia instead of a scrotum! In adults, testosterone is important for normal sexual function, sperm production, as well as muscle development and tone. In my work as a urologist at Men’s Health Boston, I treat men with infertility (i.e., vasectomy reversal) and sexual problems. Many of these men are diagnosed with low levels of testosterone, or what I call “low T.”
Low T can also cause chronic fatigue, depression, and reduced muscular/athletic performance. Treatment with testosterone can improve erections and sex drive, restore muscle and reduce fat, and increase energy and motivation. I have written a book, Testosterone for Life(McGraw-Hill), to help men figure out if they have low T, and if so, how best to obtain treatment. New evidence suggests that normal testosterone levels are important for reducing the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and men with normal levels live longer than men with low T. However, stories about cheating athletes and muscle-crazed bodybuilders have given testosterone a bad name, and have created a number of myths. Here are five of the most common testosterone myths.
1- Testosterone is an illegal drug
Nope; testosterone is a perfectly legal prescription medication. It is also a key hormone present in every man that is responsible for fetal development of the male genitalia, the physical changes that occur during male puberty, and that contributes to a variety of functions in the adult man including sperm production, erections, sex drive, muscle tone, and bone health, among others. Testosterone is only illegal when it’s used without a physician’s prescription. However, many sports organizations have strict rules regarding substances such as testosterone that may influence athletic performance. Athletes who violate the rules of their sport are cheating, and lying about it to Congress may lead to prison time.
2- Testosterone is a steroid, and steroids are dangerous
Testosterone is a steroid, but that doesn’t make it dangerous. In fact, we’re all naturally loaded with various kinds of steroids. The word “steroid” simply refers to a molecule with a “backbone” of four rings of carbon – examples include estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, and even cholesterol. Clearly, when an athlete tests positive for “steroids,” no one is concerned that he injected himself with cholesterol. In the sports world, the word “steroid” is shorthand for an “anabolic steroid hormone,” meaning steroids that specifically act to build muscle and bone, like testosterone. Whereas testosterone has been shown to be relatively safe, even at high concentrations, there is almost no information at all about the safety of the newer “designer” steroids produced to escape detection in drug testing.
We continue to clear up 5 testosterone myths you might not have known about…
3- Testosterone causes uncontrollable violent behavior
There is absolutely no reliable evidence that testosterone causes “’roid rage” or any type of violent, aggressive or uncontrollable behavior. No violence, aggression or unpredictable behavior has been seen in studies where men were administered testosterone, even at extremely high doses. In fact, the opposite appears to be true; many men with low T describe being more irritable, or having a short fuse, and this often improves with normalization of testosterone levels. A recent patient treated with testosterone told me that his wife found him “unbearable” to be around before he was diagnosed with low T and subsequently treated; “I’m a nicer guy now,” he said.
4- Testosterone causes prostate cancer
New evidence conclusively shows that men with higher levels of testosterone are at no greater risk of developing prostate cancer than men with low testosterone. Moreover, treating men with testosterone has not been shown to cause any increased risk of prostate cancer either. The basis for this myth originated from studies in the 1940s in which men with metastatic prostate cancer showed benefits when they were castrated. It appears that the only men at risk for prostate cancer growth with higher testosterone are men who have already been castrated. An exciting, but controversial, development is the use of testosterone to treat symptomatic men with low T who have undergone prior therapy for prostate cancer (I have a special chapter on this in my book, Testosterone For Life).
5- Higher testosterone causes baldness
On average, men with male pattern baldnesshave the same testosterone levels as men with a full head of hair. Baldness seems to be genetically determined. The confusion arises because medicines like finasteride (Propecia) that block conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) can prevent or treat baldness. Since only very small amounts of DHT are needed by the scalp to do what the genes tell them to do (in this case, lose hair), men who are pre-destined to pull a Kojak will do so whether their T concentrations are high or low.
Abraham Morgentaler, MD is an associate clinical professor of urology at Harvard Medical School and the founder of Men’s Health Boston (www.MensHealthBoston.com), a center focusing on sexual and reproductive health for men. Dr. Morgentaler’s newest book, Testosterone for Sale(McGraw-Hill), is the first consumer book about low T by a specialist in the field, and it explains every aspect of this common medical condition and its treatment.
So you want a second opinion, ENOUGH SAID! He could run off a bunch more if he wanted, but the moral of the story is the truth is coming, so pay attention.
The problem still is that for every one fact based article like this you have 100 fluff (and factless ) stories about the terrors of steroids and their side effects.
So with a very pleased feeling I will leave you with the FACTS that are stated above, from a doctor no less ( remember me). So enjoy the article and I will catch up with you tomorrow.