If you’re like me, you’ve noticed the ads claiming to boost your testosterone with a magic pill. These over-the-counter (OTC) testosterone pills make wild male enhancement claims that are not supported by the FDA. Aside from their lack of approval for medicinal purposes, there is almost no regulation of OTC supplements like these, so who know what you’re really ingesting. In this article I’ll dive into what you should be aware of when searching for testosterone supplementation, products to avoid, and therapies that actually work. But first, let’s dive into some of the basics.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a prevalent hormone found in all people, but in much higher quantities in males. It is typically associated with male reproductive development and sex drive but has also been closely associated with bone/muscle mass. As aging occurs, the amount of a man’s bodily testosterone can decrease, which can lead to: declining sex drive, reduced muscle mass, and feelings of inadequacy.
Because many men will experience many of the side effects associated with low testosterone, or low-T, they often fall victim to sneaky marketing tactics that eventually only help the wallets of those peddling the testosterone supplements.
Why are men using OTC products?
Men are increasingly seeking over the counter (OTC) solutions to fight reduced T levels. Availability of synthetic compounds and an increase in “testosterone-boosting” products have made it easier to find, purchase, and use testosterone-based products. Men are turning to OTC products, including injections, as an alternative to traditional testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). These products are abundant and maintain anonymity. But they’re also dangerous!
Risks of OTC Testosterone Products
It’s important to note here that many OTC testosterone-based products don’t actually contain testosterone itself. It’s more common to see “testosterone-boosters”. These products don’t usually contain any testosterone. Instead, they are made from ingredients (like medicinal plants) that are purported to boost bodily testosterone production. There are considerable dangers associated with these products, including:
1. Most of these products are poorly studied or the backing ‘science’ is based on rumor, theory, or conjecture. This can lead to certain ingredients being added that have no place in medicine. For example, Dr. Keith D. Bloom, a urologist at Baylor Medical Center in Texas, says two plants commonly found in these supplements—tribulus terrestris and Tongkat Ali—did not increase T, according to his studies.
2. Many OTC testosterone products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or any other concerned third party/organization. This means that there is typically no purity or quality control over these products. In fact, some OTC testosterone-boosters contain high levels of heavy metal toxicity. It sounds cool, but it isn’t. Heavy metal toxicity can lead to poisoning and neurological damage. Many of these products have also been shown to have a wide variety of adverse effects on: appetite, cardiovascular function, sleep, and blood glucose levels.
Speaking of the FDA, the administration itself published a warning against OTC testosterone supplements after finding that these products can elevate risks for heart attack and stroke. The warning states, “Based on our findings, we are requiring labeling changes for all prescription testosterone products to reflect the possible increased risk of heart attacks and strokes associated with testosterone use.”
Sufferers of Low-T have also turned to OTC and illegal injections as a means to meet their needs. These kinds of injections were once very rare, used only in legitimate, diagnosed cases of low testosterone. Now that they’re more widely available, men are using them to increase vitality, sex drive, and muscle growth. In some cases, these injections work. However, they also come with a terrible host of side-effects, such as: high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction, irritability and aggressive behavior, increased risk for blood clots/heart attack/stroke, increased risk for prostate cancer, and infertility.
These injections also typically have another unwanted side-effect. Pumping too much testosterone into the body can actually activate a process called aromatization, in which excess testosterone is converted into estrogen. An increase in estrogen within the body can lead to male breast growth, higher water retention, anxiety, depression, and emotional instability issues. In many cases, these side-effects contribute to the exact opposite of the user’s goal.
As mentioned before, one of the biggest draws to these “medications” is anonymity. Being able to simply buy testosterone-boosters from the pharmacy shelves or buy doses in a locker room means men can avoid an official diagnosis. After all, no man wants to be told by a doctor that he has low testosterone. It can be an uncomfortable and demeaning experience. However, not properly diagnosing a medical condition can have awful side effects. This is especially true with testosterone issues. TRT might not seem like a glamorous option, but it is certainly safer than any over the counter product.
If the medical implications aren’t enough to sway you, then consider the legal ones. Many of the “products” finding their way into homes and gyms are illegal and manufactured by nefarious sources, shipped illegally across international borders. Often, the sale of these illegal drugs helps fund even more heinous crime. As it turns out, there are plenty of people in the world willing to take advantage of men seeking solutions to their Low-T issues.
Safe and Legal Testosterone Therapy Options
Considering HGH treatment or testosterone replacement is perfectly normal. You should consult a testosterone replacement therapy physician immediately if you are experiencing symptoms of low testosterone. Always use caution with your body. It’s the only one you have. Focus exclusively on physician-supervised testosterone therapy that are only available through prescription. This will not only ensure you’re getting the treatment you need but will also mitigate potential risk factors.
As science advances, there is a growing need for testosterone therapy and HGH therapy clinics throughout the US. One such clinic, Ehormones MD, has locations throughout the US in almost all major cities and states that not only is it easy to make an appointment for your initial testosterone therapy consultation, but the testosterone therapy process has been streamlined over the years to make it extremely convenient for patients to receive and administer their therapy.
For those concerned about the side effects of testosterone therapy, this is completely normal, but is uncommon in males that pass a thorough physical.
From Ehormones MD:
Medical doctors will carefully assess all risk factors and approach every client with an individualized treatment plan. Factors that may disqualify you as a possible HRT candidate include: Significantly high blood pressure, history of cancer, liver disease, heart disease, blood clots, breast cancer, and testicular cancer.
In summary, if you’re a male and believe you may be suffering from the often debilitating effects of decreased testosterone, choose a reputable testosterone therapy clinic or physician versus an over-the-counter pill that might cause more harm than good.