Drugmakers spent more than 100-million dollars last year to promote prescription testosterone-everything from gels and patches to injections. Just two years ago, the industry was spending a fraction of that-a mere 14-million dollars.
Today's ads appear to be working. Sales are soaring. But Consumer Reports has a serious caution.
Men worried about their sexual health are being bombarded by commercials promoting testosterone.
"Lost your appetite for romance and your mood is on its way down? You might not be getting older, you might have a treatable condition called low testosterone or low-T."
Consumer Reports' Dr. John Santa says-despite the fact sales of testosterone treatments topped two-billion dollars in 2012-most men don't need it.
Dr. Santa says, "Even if you're worried about erectile dysfunction, treatment with testosterone usually isn't the answer. Erectile dysfunction almost always stems from other problems: reduced blood flow, emotional problems, or a drug side effect."
And using testosterone treatments, which can cost 400 dollars a month or more, has serious risks.
Dr. Santa says, "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."
Even Stephen Colbert is taking note.
Colbert says, "The best part is, this highly concentrated male sex hormone doesn't have one side effect-it has dozens of them!"
Commercial says, "Serious side effects include worsening of enlarged prostate, possible increased risk of prostate cancer..."
Other potential side effects include-enlarged breasts, sleep apnea, blood clots in your legs, and for younger men, lower fertility is a major concern.
Dr. Santa says, 'Starting testosterone is a big deal. It should only be done after a long and careful conversation between doctor and patient."
And there's another concern: family members being accidentally exposed to testosterone gels. The hormone can cause women to develop male characteristics and children to enter early puberty.