Beware of ‘Natural’ Testosterone Boosters

In the 3.4 billion dollar global market for erectile dysfunction treatments, there’s always some new notion or potion hoping to capture a piece of the business. When it comes to herbal testosterone preparations, we’d like to offer a dose of common sense.

Patients should be very skeptical about herbal testosterone and other “nutraceuticals.” The term nutraceuticals covers dietary supplements, herbal preparations and some foods. These products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and therefore do not go through the same rigorous testing process that non-nutraceuticals have to go through to test their safety and effectiveness. Last month the FDA issued a warning about using even pharmaceutical testosterone products for low testosterone due to aging and has required a labeling change to inform of possible increased risk of heart attack and stroke with use. The FDA counsels: “Health care professionals should prescribe testosterone therapy only for men with low testosterone levels caused by certain medical conditions and confirmed by laboratory tests.

Many so-called testosterone products offer extravagant claims of increased potency that, when tested, do not stand up. Rather than spend money on unproven, unregulated products, we advise men to see a professional who can lead them down the right path to optimal health, safely and effectively.

Testosterone levels vary among men but generally older men have lower testosterone levels than younger men do. Testosterone levels gradually decline throughout adulthood — about 1 percent a year after age 30 on average.

A man cannot diagnose his own need for testosterone based on how he feels. A blood test is the only way to diagnose a low testosterone level or a reduction in the availability of testosterone. Some men have a lower than normal testosterone level without signs or symptoms. In this case, no treatment is needed. For others, low testosterone might cause changes in sexual function, sleep patterns, emotions and the body.

However, some of these signs and symptoms can be caused by completely different factors other than low testosterone, including medication side effects, thyroid problems, depression and excessive alcohol use. There are also conditions, such as obstructive sleep apnea, that might affect testosterone levels. Once these conditions are identified and treated, testosterone typically will return to a normal level.

If you are experiencing signs and symptoms that might be the result of a low testosterone level, do your body a favor and consult your doctor.

 Men who experience erectile dysfunction should see a specialist for a thorough examination and tests. The Urology Division at Premier Medical Group includes thirteen highly experienced, and knowledgeable physicians who maintain offices in in Dutchess, Ulster and Orange counties. For appointments, call 845-437-5000.