Men worried about their sexual health have been bombarded by commercials promoting testosterone.
According to Consumer Reports, over $100 million was spent last year to promote prescription testosterone, marketing everything from gels and patches to injections.
Just two years ago the industry spent only $14 million.
Today’s ads appear to be working, and sales are soaring, but Consumer Reports has a serious caution.
A commercial for the testosterone states that if a you are experiencing a loss of appetite for romance and your mood, you might not just be getting older, you might have a treatable condition called low testosterone, or low-T.
Consumer Reports’ Dr. John Santa said that despite the fact sales of testosterone treatments topped $2 billion in 2012, most men don’t need it.
"Even if you’re worried about erectile dysfunction, treatment with testosterone usually isn’t the answer," said Santa. "Erectile dysfunction almost always stems from other problems such as reduced blood flow, emotional problems or a drug side effect.”
Using testosterone treatments, which can cost $400 a month or more, has serious risks.
“A study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that men using one testosterone gel, Testim 1%, for six months had more heart attacks and other cardiovascular events,” said Santa.
According to a commercial for the hormone, serious side effects include worsening of enlarged prostate, possible increased risk of prostate cancer with other potential side effects including enlarged breasts, sleep apnea, blood clots in the legs, and for younger men, lower fertility is a major concern.
“Starting testosterone is a big deal, said Santa. "It should only be done after a long and careful conversation between doctor and patient.”
Another concern is family members who are being accidentally exposed to testosterone gels. The hormone can cause women to develop male characteristics and children to enter an early puberty.