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Doctor's Diagnosis: Testosterone

Testosterone is a hormone that peaks in men

Testosterone is a hormone that peaks in men at about age 30. It helps control masculine characteristics such as muscle mass, sex drive and growth of body hair. Supplements have long been used effectively by men who do not produce enough testosterone. Credit: iStock

I admit it: I’m not as young as I used to be. There’s more fat, less muscle, less energy. My chief concern in the bedroom is making sure I get a good night’s sleep. Question: Would taking testosterone supplements restore my former glory?

Testosterone is a hormone that peaks in men at about age 30. It helps control masculine characteristics such as muscle mass, sex drive and growth of body hair. Supplements have long been used effectively by men who do not produce enough testosterone.

What is new is the claim that millions of middle-aged men not currently using testosterone would benefit from taking it to address perceived “low T.’’

What’s not to like about turning back the clock a bit with these gels, patches or injections?

First of all, it’s never been proven that using testosterone in otherwise healthy men will result in increased alertness, muscle mass or sex drive, and it is not FDA approved for such uses.

Also, there are many possible side effects. Of most concern is recent evidence that has linked testosterone use with increased risk of heart attacks and stroke. It may worsen symptoms in men who have trouble urinating due to enlarged prostates, and it may worsen existing prostate cancers or even cause new ones. Worsening sleep apnea is also a possible side effect.

Caution must be used to make sure it does not accidentally come in contact with females or pre-adolescent males, because this frequently leads to undesirable side effects.

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Until someone actually shows testosterone is safe and really helps middle-aged men, I’ll settle for trying to get to the gym more often and learning to enjoy my naps.


Dr. Stephen Picca of Massapequa is Board Certified in both Internal Medicine and Anesthesiology. He is retired from practice. Questions and comments can be sent to Dr. Picca at health@newsday.com.

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