Q. I am a 54-year-old male and I have noticed a drop-off in sexual performance as well as in other parts of my life. I have seen commercials for products that are supposed to boost testosterone.
Do such products work? Is there a downside?
A. Men who have low levels of the male hormone testosterone may experience fatigue, reduced sex drive, diminished muscular strength and weaker bones. Although boosting testosterone levels can reverse such symptoms, this hormone may produce some unexpected negative consequences.
A small study published in The New England Journal of Medicine (July 8, 2010) reports that men who received testosterone via a topically applied gel experienced improved arm and leg strength and increased mobility. They had more cardiovascular complications, however, including heart attacks. The study was halted prematurely because of safety concerns.
Until we have better data on both the benefits and risks of supplemental testosterone, we think it’s wise to be cautious about raising your hormone level.