Top Five Testosterone Myths...Busted!Steroids
Testosterone is hot. Everybody is intrigued by it. And moreover, everybody seems to want it.
It's quite a hormonal role reversal, considering that only a few years ago, wearing a Testosterone T-shirt would grant you automatic pariah status on any street you happened to walk down. Likewise, asking the average physician about it would get you a raised eyebrow and a lecture – delivered in the requisite condescending tone – about the evils of steroids.
We're happy that the lay public "discovered" Testosterone and the concept of Testosterone replacement. It was about time!
The trouble is, for every favorable report you hear about our beloved big T, the news organization offers the "dark side," or "the bad news" about Testosterone.
Unfortunately, in almost 99% of the cases, they've got their heads up their collective asses.
The goal of this article is to help dispel most of the mythology concerning Testosterone from all of the media propaganda.
Myth #1. "Testosterone? Sure, that's fine, I guess. But steroids? That's a whole other subject!"
Most of the Idiots in the news organizations think that Testosterone is somehow distinct from steroids. They think that Testosterone, while risky, is something worth looking at, NATURAL, but the mention of the word steroid is enough to make them clamp shut their minds.
The truth is, Testosterone is a steroid. It was first isolated in 1935 and was synthesized shortly thereafter. Once that happened, chemist started synthesizing different versions of the drug.
Their hope was to somehow dissociate the masculinizing properties from the anabolic properties. And that's it.
Regardless, these synthetics, along with Testosterone, are all steroids.
Myth #2. Testosterone injections will give you liver cancer.
The truth is none of the Testosterone preparations currently used for Testosterone replacement in the United States have any negative effects on the liver.
Why then the age-old rumor? Most of the oral steroids (those that appear in pill form) have, in chemical terms, an alkyl group in the 17-alpha position. It doesn't matter if you know what this means. What does matter is that ordinarily, regular old Testosterone, taken orally, gets metabolized and inactivated by the liver before it reaches its target organs.
That means that you'd have to swallow a lot of it to have any noticeable effect at all. That's why all Testosterone esters are injectables.
However, in order to protect Testosterone from being broken down, chemists have put the aforementioned alkyl group in the 17-alpha position, thus making oral steroids a viable possibility.
Although this chemical juggling makes it an effective steroid, when abused, the liver suffers the consequences, sometimes leading to an increase in liver enzymes, cholestasis, and/or peliosis.
Whether or not these complications will lead to liver cancer is debatable. Although one study found an association between long-term treatment with methyltestosterone (a 17-alpha alkylated steroid) and liver tumors, another study found the association to be "incidental."
Regardless, no doctors in the U.S. use any 17-alpha akylated steroids for T replacement. All use injectable versions.
Myth #3. Testosterone replacement will make your testicles shrink and you'll be sterile.
There's an element of truth to this "myth." If you introduce additional Testosterone into your body, your own supply is suppressed and the clearance rate increases. As a result, the testicles may take a vacation and actually shrink.
Simultaneously, the production of sperm cells will slow or stop. This is why the World Health Organization was thinking about recommending the use of steroids as a male contraceptive a few years back.
What the fear mongers don't tell you, however, is that these side effects are temporary and that the testicles almost always rebound within a few weeks. There are thousands of steroid users who have sired healthy babies.
One more point: this shutdown of the testes, however temporary, can usually be avoided by the concurrent use of drugs like HCG.
Myth #4 A high level of Testosterone automatically makes you a sex machine.
Taking additional T doesn't always result in automatic horniness. There's often a latency period between T administration and increase in sexual desire that takes from days to several weeks.
Besides, just how much T you need to sexually function as a male is debatable. The normal physiologic range is a lot higher than you need to maintain normal sexual functions.
Additionally, while extra T will presumably, sooner or later, lead to increased sexual desire, increased sexual frequency, and possibly stiffer erections, it won't necessarily make you a better lover. If you're currently a dud in bed, extra T will make you a hornier dud.
Myth #5. Testosterone replacement will automatically cause your hair to fall out in tufts.
Take a look at almost any young boy or any woman – you'll notice that their hairlines go straight across their foreheads. However, once these boys start to produce T, their hairlines start to recede at the temples. And, if the genetic predisposition exists, they'll eventually go bald.
Therefore, it is true that T replacement – taken to normal or slightly supra-normal levels – can lead to hair loss, if the patient has a genetic predisposition to androgen-related hair loss.
Looking at case histories of castrates easily proves this. They don't suffer from baldness, but once you start giving them T, they can develop male pattern baldness.
Why does Testosterone sometimes cause varying degrees of baldness? Well, when a portion of the testosterone produced or introduced into the body gets converted into another form of T known as Dihydrotestostesterone, or DHT. Some of this DHT binds to intracellular androgen receptors – cellular parking spots, really – and prevents hair from developing normally.
DHT-bound follicles gradually produce thinner and thinner hair, along with the shortening of the anagen phase (the hair's life span) and lengthening of the telogen phase (the dormant, or rest phase). This can then culminate in the connective tissue sheath of the hair becoming chronically inflamed and long-term baldness is the result.
Still, the hair-loss phenomenon varies from individual to individual. As mentioned above, the genetic predisposition for hair loss must be present. Additionally, some men may convert Testosterone to DHT at a higher rate.
In any event, raising T levels to mid-range normal or high normal in itself won't necessarily cause your hair to fall out. And, if it is a potential problem, the drug finasteride will block DHT from binding to the hair follicle, thus usually preventing further hair loss.
Now, some steroids don't convert to DHT (or estrogen), but because of this, they won't exhibit the full spectrum of activities associated with T, so that makes them an undesirable candidate for T replacement.
There is no evidence that the judicious, sane use of Testosterone or steroids in general is life shortening. Of course, there's not a whole lot of evidence (yet) that T will lengthen life. There is, however, plenty of evidence that they can improve the quality of life.