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Testosterone Replacement Therapy FAQs

Q: What is testosterone replacement therapy?

Testosterone replacement therapy refers to a variety of prescription drugs that can increase a man's testosterone levels. Men with abnormally low testosterone levels may experience a lack of energy, fatigue, a reduced sex drive, muscle loss, and depression. Testosterone replacement therapy often promises to counter these symptoms and restore a man's virility.

Q: What does testosterone do for men?

Testosterone is a critical hormone for men of all ages. During puberty, it plays a key role in a young man's sexual development and physical growth. Testosterone is responsible for the development of a man's sex organs and his sex drive or libido. It's also responsible for a young man's growing physical strength, energy, and endurance. Testosterone is closely tied to masculinity.

For adult men, testosterone helps maintain bone density, fat distribution, muscle strength, muscle mass, red blood cell production, sex drive, and sperm production. As men age, testosterone production naturally begins to decrease. This drop off normally begins around the age of thirty and many men begin to notice the effects after the age of forty.

Q: Why do men undergo testosterone replacement therapy?

Many men turn to testosterone replacement therapy to counter the natural decline in testosterone production. Manufacturers of testosterone drugs have marketed their products as a means of increasing libido, mental faculty, and muscle mass. This marketing campaign has been successful. Around $2 billion is spent on testosterone products each year. This number has been rapidly growing and some estimate it will reach $5 billion by 2017.

Testosterone drugs are specifically approved for use among men with low testosterone levels. This is a condition called male hypogonadism. Common signs and symptoms of hypogonadism include:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Infertility
  • Decreased body hair growth
  • Decreased muscle mass
  • Development of breast tissue
  • Loss of bone mass
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Concentration problems
  • Hot flashes

There are times when testosterone replacement therapy is necessary for other medical reasons. Some men are born with body or brain conditions that can cause them to produce an insufficient amount of testosterone. Men can also suffer (painful) injuries that limit or prevent natural testosterone production. Chemotherapy can also cause a drop in testosterone levels.

Q: What kinds of testosterone replacement therapies are available?

There are many prescription testosterone products available. Manufacturers produce creams, patches, gels, injections, gums, and implants to deliver testosterone to patients. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the federal agency responsible for drug safety, has approved numerous testosterone products as safe for patient use. Patients should determine which testosterone replacement therapy is best for them in consultation with their prescribing doctor.

Q: What major health risks are associated with testosterone replacement therapy?

Stroke and Heart Attack

Recent controversy has surrounded a possible link between testosterone replacement therapy and an increased risk of cardiovascular problems. In January 2014, the FDA announced that it was investigating the risk of stroke, heart attack, and death among men using approved testosterone products.

The FDA announcement came after two medical studies found an increased risk of cardiovascular problems among men taking testosterone products. The first study found that men receiving testosterone treatment had a 30% increased risk of stroke and heart attack. The second study found an increased risk of heart attack among older men and younger men with pre-existing heart conditions receiving testosterone treatment.

Prostrate Cancer

Medical studies have examined the benefits and risks of testosterone replacement therapy. There's an ongoing debate over testosterone replacement therapy's potential to increase the rate of prostrate cancer. So far, studies have not found a link between testosterone replacement therapy and accelerated prostrate cancer growth. However, a significant number of doctors still suspect that testosterone replacement therapy can speed the growth of prostrate cancer.

Q: Have any lawsuits been filed over testosterone replacement therapy?

Yes. A growing number of men have filed lawsuits against the manufacturers of testosterone drugs. Many of these lawsuits contend that testosterone replacement therapy caused patients to suffer strokes, heart attacks, and blood clots. These lawsuits seek compensation for injured patients from the manufacturers under a legal theory known as product liability.

Q: How can I get legal help with my testosterone replacement claim?

The complications involved with testosterone drugs, including stroke, heart attack, and cardiac arrest, can have lasting effects and require extensive medical care. A product liability lawsuit can allow a patient to receive compensation for any medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering caused by testosterone therapy. Product liability suits are often complicated affairs, involving medical evidence and expert witnesses. As a result, it's in your best interests to contact an experienced product liability attorney.

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