Andropause is to men what menopause is to women. As males age, their testosterone levels naturally and gradually decrease. It’s not an indication that they have any sort of ailment; it happens in healthy men.
For this problem, doctors can prescribe testosterone supplements. These will raise (obviously) levels of the hormone in the body. Doing so often results in older men feeling better and looking healthier. Many people are taking testosterone-replacement therapy to boost sex drive, muscle mass, and overall well-being.
The only question is if pumping hormones back into the body is an entirely safe thing to do. A new study suggests that it isn’t. It was performed in rats, but the results are important enough to consider for men. Researchers found that testosterone treatment could raise the risk of kidney damage and make high blood pressure worse.
What happens is that heart disease, high blood pressure, and kidney disease are linked to lower levels of testosterone. Because of this, doctors prescribe the hormone to men with heart disease. But there is not much evidence about how testosterone affects the heart and blood vessels.
The new study has found that increasing the hormone levels led to severe kidney disease and hypertension (high blood pressure) in rodents. Rats taking testosterone supplements had significantly higher blood pressure than other rats. They also had greater levels of protein in the urine. This is a sign that the kidney may be in trouble.
The study’s conclusion was particularly sharp: taking hormone supplements could make heart disease or kidney disease worse. And those are two illnesses that are bad enough on their own.
What this means is that doctors and patients should pay greater attention to the negative possibilities that come with testosterone-replacement therapy. A man’s heart and cardiovascular system should be closely scrutinized and monitored. Older men should speak with their doctor about how testosterone fits into their lives, and if the potentially dangerous effects outweigh the potential benefits.