Black InterestsHealth & Wellness

Don’t Let Myths About Testosterone Fool You!


Guest Contributor:  Jackie Edwards

Testosterone levels have shown a steady decline among young men in the US over the past two decades. The main causes identified by scientists include obesity, a lack of exercise, poor diet, marijuana use, and environmental toxins. Overall, black males have considerably higher levels of testosterone than white males aged 20-39. They do face an important health issue though—the rapid decline of testosterone with age. Scientists recommend that black men receive personalized medication for hormone replacement therapy to avoid sudden drops in testosterone. Testosterone helps maintain and develop muscle mass, red blood cells, bone density, sexual function, and a sense of wellbeing. It is also vital to avoid falling prey to harmful myths about testosterone, a few of which can be found below. 

Myth 1: Testosterone Is An Exclusively Male Hormone

Testosterone is also produced by women in their ovaries, fat cells, skin cells, and adrenal glands. Men produce up to 20 times more testosterone than women, but women also need this hormone to function optimal. Testosterone is essential for women for bone density, cognitive function, mood, sexual function, and energy. Women with low testosterone levels can face decreased sex drive, depression, weakness, and many other health issues.

Myth 2: Having High Testosterone Always Makes You Feel More Energetic

Testosterone is linked to sleep quality in a powerful way. If your testosterone levels are too high, then you could have more shallow sleep and feel more tired after a night of sleep deprivation. Anyone who is on testosterone replacement therapy or abusing steroids will notice that they have reduced sleep time and increased light sleep. Anyone experiencing this symptom should see their doctor, since poor quality sleep is linked to obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, depression, anxiety, and many other serious health problems.

Myth 3: Testosterone Makes Men Aggressive

There is no doubt that testosterone can affect your mood. However, the old myth that someone with angry “has too much testosterone” is majorly misleading. Having too little testosterone can cause mood changes just as much as having too much. Men who abuse anabolic steroids to build muscle are sometimes accused of having “roid rage.” However, a study by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) concluded that it is possible that steroid users share personality traits that make it more likely for them to become aggressive. What’s more, it is known that people who take steroids are also more likely to abuse other substances—including alcohol, cocaine, and opioids.

Myth 4: Testosterone Therapy Causes Prostate Cancer

Testosterone does not cause cancer. However, it can fuel prostate cancer that already exists—as reported by the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Men taking testosterone supplements may worry whether they are increasing their chances of getting prostate cancer. They should be monitored by their physician, who can check their PSA (prostate-specific antigen). Sometimes, testosterone is recommended after prostate cancer, because a patient’s testosterone levels may have dropped considerably after being treated for cancer. Several studies show that testosterone therapy may be safe in men who have had prostate cancer in the past, but more randomized clinical trials are needed to see if the risk outweighs the benefits.

Myth 5: Over-The-Counter Testosterone Supplements Are Safe and Effective

If you are having symptoms of low testosterone (including a decreased sex drive, fatigue, loss of muscle mass and strength, decreased cognitive function, or decreased hair growth), then see your doctor rather than purchasing over-the-counter testosterone supplements. There simply isn’t enough evidence that these supplements are effective. Experts recommend that consumers avoid these supplements and instead rely on FDA-approved treatments, as prescribed by a physician. 

Myth 6: High Testosterone Will Make You a Great Lover

Low testosterone can reduce your libido. However, having high levels of this hormone won’t necessarily turn you into a sexual dynamo. Testosterone levels alone are unlikely to significantly impact your sex life, unless you are on extreme ends of the scale. Male and female libidos are linked to a host of factors that have nothing to do with testosterone. For many couples, the biggest turn-on has less to do with testosterone and more to do with establishing a caring, romantic atmosphere in the days and hours leading up to a sexual encounter.

Testosterone is a vital hormone for both men and women. It is linked to bone strength, energy, and mood. If you think you have symptoms of low testosterone, see your doctor so you can test this hypothesis out. Go with a doctor- and FDA-approved treatment and keep up with your appointments to make sure your levels are neither too high nor too low.

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