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If you’re a man, your testosterone levels can decline with age and this can have an impact on your wellbeing. Your lower levels of the hormone can affect your muscle tone, energy levels and even your libido, which is why more and more men are starting to take testosterone supplements in an effort to boost their overall wellness, as well as their sexual health. But is it always safe to take testosterone supplements?
According to Dr David Samadi, vice chairman of the Department of Urology and Chief of Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, testosterone supplementation isn’t always the best idea. Your testosterone levels peak at the age of 40 and drop by a percentage point every year after that. Male menopause can typically occur at around the ages of 55 to 60, meaning you can experience low testosterone levels, depression, weight gain and a decline in drive to do much of anything. Dr Samadi explains, ‘It’s the same phenomenon that women go through except menopause in women is really abrupt and they get to age 50-55 and menopause hits them hard. With men, it’s very gradual, and that’s one of the reasons why they don’t really feel that pace.’
He notes that there’s a good reason why much of the media surrounding the hormone has highlighted testosterone supplements as a cure-all against the ageing process for men. Dr Samadi comments, ‘Testosterone really is the fuel for men. It’s the source of energy. It’s great for bone density, for muscle mass. It’s the reason for sex drive and libido, and that’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to really stay on top of it.’ However, taking testosterone as a supplement may not be the right choice for you, especially if you have a history of prostate cancer or elevated prostate-specific antigen levels.
Testosterone actually feeds your prostate cancer cells, and so there is much debate in the medical community as to whether men at risk for prostate cancer or a recurrence of the disease should take testosterone supplements. Dr Samadi says, ‘It really depends on the patient…it depends on how low the testosterone is, what the symptoms are, and it’s a discussion with the patient.’