Millions of Americans use testosterone boosters in the form of injections, gels, or pills for different reasons. The always convincing pharmaceutical marketing blitz promises users an array of benefits such as being more alert, improvement in sexual functioning, energetic and mentally sharp. Although testosterone is indeed quite beneficial to the body, legitimate and grave concerns linger.
So are there any health risks or side effects of taking testosterone boosters? Unfortunately, yes!
While testosterone is beneficial in an array of areas on the body, the desirable effects can turn out to be negative if abused or misused. Abuse of testosterone brings with it health risks that affect the endocrine system, mental health, brain, heart, and liver.
Before looking at some of the testosterone booster side effects, let us first have a look at special groups of men that shouldn’t take testosterone:
- Those with breast cancer or prostate cancer
- Those with severe problems of the urinary tract
- Those with uncontrolled heart failure
- Those with serious sleep apnea
Note: Before you consider taking testosterone boosters, it is prudent to undergo a comprehensive prostate cancer screening. Ensure you have a PSA test and a rectal exam.
7 Testosterone Booster Side Effects
1. Raised PSA Levels
Based on this study, a link exists between testosterone and rising PSA. One way of learning if your PSA levels are low or high is through a test. A PSA test basically monitors the blood. It is magical when it comes to screening prostate cancer. The test measures prostate-specific antigen levels in the blood.
Generally, many doctors consider PSA levels of more than 4.0 ng/mL suspicious. However, many other factors should be considered before further action is taken. Here are some of the general guidelines touching on PSA levels:
- 0 – 2.5 ng/mL – Safe
- 5 – 4 ng/mL – Safe with many men but it’s prudent to consult your physician regarding other risk factors or underlying issues
- 0 – 10.0 ng/mL – Suspicious, indicates the potential for prostate cancer. This range indicates a 25% probability of prostate cancer
- 0 ng/mL and above – Dangerous. Discuss it with your doctor immediately. This range indicates a 50% probability of prostate cancer
Note: PSA levels rise with age. It is wise to refer with your specialist about age-specific PSA ranges. Some of the other factors that might inform a higher PSA include things such as a catheter, prostatitis, urinary tract infection, and injury to your prostate or pelvic region.
Excess production of the DHT (dihydrotestosterone) encourages the synthesis of prostate cells. While this hormone encourages normal growth of male features in adolescents, it can result in BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) or prostate cancer, particularly in older men.
2. Enlarged Prostate
The American Cancer Society opines that one out of nine men will at one point in his life, be diagnosed with prostate cancer. According to Medscape, around 14 million American men grapple with BPH symptoms while the worldwide figure stands at 30 million. Enlarged prostate severely affects the lives of so many people in terms of lost wages and medical expenses.
Among the many causes of an enlarged prostate, testosterone features commonly. This study claims that testosterone replacement therapy increases or worsens the signs and symptoms of an enlarged prostate.
Testosterone stimulation naturally enhances the growth of the prostate. Usually, the size of the prostate grows as a man ages. When this happens, it squeezes the urethra (the tube that carries urine). The result is difficulty in urinating.
Taking testosterone boosters makes the enlargement of the prostate worse. Testosterone, in addition to increasing the size of the prostate, can also increase the risk or occurrence of prostate cancer.
For this reason, as we already advised, it is wise to undertake a prostate exam before you take the testosterone booster.
3. Increased Red Blood Cell Count
An increase in red blood cell count is another side effect of testosterone according to this study. The medical terminology of this testosterone risk goes by the name erythrocytosis. A rise in red blood cell count hurts your cardiovascular system.
So how can one tell that he or she has a higher RBC count? Well, the count is measured in the lab. A lab technician measures Hct (hematocrit) levels and Hgb (hemoglobin) levels. Hgb is simply a protein in the RBC that transports oxygen. The body’s volume of blood comprises plasma, platelets, RBC, and WBC.
To be specific, testosterone increases the red blood cell component of the blood volume. The rise in RBC count causes a rise in blood viscosity and platelet adhesiveness. It decreases venous return. All these can result in not only cardiovascular risk and formation of a blood clot but also ischemia and stroke.
A blood clot is dangerous especially when it finds its way into the lungs or brain. When it gets to the brain, it might lead to a stroke. Blood viscosity can take a toll on your heart and brain.
High blood pressure is the other terminology that refers to hypertension. It is among the most notorious conditions affecting Americans. The American Heart Association opines that over 100 million people in the USA are grappling with hypertension.
According to the CDC, hypertension was a contributing or primary cause of almost half a million deaths in the United States in 2018. These shocking stats paint a picture of the graveside of this ailment.
While an array of causes of hypertension exist, testosterone can also be a contributing factor to this condition, at least according to this study. According to the study, besides causing an increase in blood pressure, extremely high levels of testosterone could also contribute to cardiovascular disease risk.
Some of the strategies you can employ to reduce hypertension risk include:
- Taking a healthy diet
- Limiting alcohol consumption
- Working out frequently
- Shedding some extra weight
- Reducing stress
- Reducing the consumption of caffeine
Did you know that acne is the leading or most rampant skin condition in the country? Acne affects around 50 million Americans according to the AADA.
Another side effect of testosterone is the acne outbreak. This research established that bodies of people grappling with acne outbreaks tend to synthesize more testosterone compared to those without.
So what informs the association between acne and testosterone? To understand how the two are linked, it is important to first understand how acne comes about. Sebaceous glands, that happen to be present underneath the skin are the ones responsible for the production of sebum, an oily substance.
The face is the part of the body that features the highest concentration of sebaceous glands. Hair follicles surround most of these glands. Sometimes, particles such as dead skin cells or even sebum can block the hair follicles. When inflammation of the blockage happens, the formation of acne or elevated bumps starts to take place.
Testosterone comes into this equation because it is responsible for sebum production. Overproduction of this hormone or abuse of the hormone’s supplements results in excess production of sebum thus leading to an increased risk of an inflamed gland that triggers an acne outbreak.
It also explains why a majority of folks with acne are those in puberty when the hormone levels begin to rise. It is worth noting that acne associated with testosterone can continue into late adulthood not just during puberty or teenage.
The various types of acne that can affect your body include:
- Nodules and cysts
6. Hair Loss
Male pattern baldness which also goes by the name androgenetic alopecia is responsible for over 95% of loss of hair in males. The American Hair Loss Association opines this. The reduction of the size of the hair follicles negatively impacts the growth cycle. Because of this, new hair turns out to be finer and finer until it reaches a point when no hair is left.
Both genes and hormones play a role in the loss of hair. Of the different ones that play this role is testosterone through DHT. High androgen levels in the body inform the production of DHT. DHT binds particular proteins within the body that ultimately reduce your hair follicle’s size. This can result in not only thinning of your hair but also delay in the development of new hair strands.
Testosterone levels, whether high or low can inform the loss of hair.
You can treat loss of hair by employing strategies that interfere with DHT’s actions and testosterone. A drug such as Finasteride inhibits or limits the production of 5-alpha reductase enzyme which plays the role of changing testosterone to DHT.
Other forms of treatment for hair loss that do not touch DHT or testosterone include:
- Laser treatment
- Transplant of the surgical hair follicle
Learn more about how testosterone causes loss of hair this here.
7. Heart Condition
Testosterone can be responsible for heart ailment based on this research. We have already established that the male body brings with it more testosterone compared to women. It is also a fact that heart disease is more rampant in men compared to women. Most males develop heart disease roughly 10 years before women.
Just like with any other muscle, cardiac cells bring with them receptors. These receptors bind male hormones. Abusers of testosterone are not only at risk of grappling with high blood pressure but also instances of stroke and heart attacks.
In high doses, the hormone brings with it a negative effect on the body’s cardiac risk factor comprising of HDL cholesterol levels. Because abusing testosterone can harm your metabolism and the heart shouldn’t put you off from using the hormone.