I received an email a few days back about someone having problems with his sexual drive. The email sender said his testosterone levels were found to be lower than normal. He then mentioned TestRush, a supplement that claims to boost testosterone production. “I’ve noticed an increase in muscle mass and an improved strength as well after just two weeks of taking the test booster,” he said in his email.
“I remember my co-worker talking about low testosterone levels cause a decrease in sexual drive,” he said. He then narrated how he made an appointment for a testosterone test. He said his low testosterone levels were due to his age.
I’m sure you’re burning with questions about this supplement. But let’s not rely on anecdotes to address an issue that affects not only men, but also the women who love them. Let’s see what evidence exists regarding the effectiveness of health supplements on testosterone deficiency and problems related to libido.
Testosterone Deficiency: Basic Information
Here are a few facts about testosterone deficiency. The different causes, including diagnostic guidelines and treatment options, are mentioned.
- Testosterone deficiency, otherwise known as hypogonadism in males, can be due to problems with any of the organs in the involved axis, namely the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, or the testes. (The hypothalamus releases gonadotropin-releasing hormones that signals the pituitary gland to produce adequate amounts of leutinizing hormone. In turn, the leutinizing hormone prompts the male sex organs to produce testosterone.)
- There are certain illnesses that can affect a man’s testosterone levels. Advanced age can also lead to a decrease in testosterone – many people refer to this as “andropause”, a type of hypogonadism with a late onset.
- The tests recommended for diagnosing hypogonadism depend on many factors, such as age, presentation, and clinical impression. But in general, according to the clinical practice guidelines set by the Endocrine Society, a person is diagnosed with hypogonadism if he has low testoserone levels in at least two different occasions. In addition, the diagnosis for men who have already undergone puberty is dependent mostly on the manifestations of the condition.
- The recommended treatment for hypogonadism is hormone replacement. It makes sense that someone deficient in testosterone will benefit from testosterone replacement. However, this only deals with some of the signs and symptoms without addressing infertility. A person may be given LHRH (a gonadotropin hormone-releasing hormone) or follicle-stimulating hormone with human chorionic gonadotropin injections. (Not all people with hypogonadism can achieve fertility, however.)
Now that the basics are out of the way, the next question is, does andropause really exist?
Health Supplements for Andropause: Do They Really Work?
The debate regarding andropause continues. While it does, one thing is for sure: In a certain fraction of men, testosterone does decrease with age to the point of hypogonadism. This state of “male menopause” has three key symptoms: erectile dysfunction, a decrease in the frequency of sexual fantasies, and also of morning erection.
The next question is, “What role do health supplements play in late-onset menopause?” To be specific, does the TestRush drug indicated by the client actually work?
A visit to their website reveals a statement by the company that the supplement does not have any side effects. It also gives anecdotal evidence of men having more muscle bulk and sex drive with just one week of use. However, the website also says, “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”
As is the case with many health supplements, evidence is lacking. Health professionals find it prudent to recommend supplements and drugs that have been studied rigorously, in terms of both cost-effectiveness and safety.
After all, what might have worked for one person might not work for another. Even if it does, it might just be a placebo effect. More importantly, a health supplement’s true safety profile cannot be established without drug trials under controlled conditions.
If you’re suffering from any of the symptoms of late-onset hypogonadism, please consult your doctor. And don’t forget to tell your wife – after she showers you with attention and gives you all the support you need, you will be happy that you did.
Dr. Stef dela Cruz encourages everyone, healthcare professional or otherwise, to do research before taking health supplements. She maintains her own column in a print health magazine while managing a health blog during her spare time. Feel free to follow her on Twitter.