There is an increased incidence of hypogonadism in men with rheumatoid arthritis. Tengstrand et al (2002) studied hormonal levels in 104 men with rheumatoid arthritis and 99 age-matched healthy men. They divided their subjects into 3 age groups: 30–49, 40–59, 60–69. Mean non-sex hormone binding globulin-bound testosterone (bioavailable testosterone) was lower in men with rheumatoid arthritis for each of the three groups. LH was also found to be lower in the patients with rheumatoid arthritis suggesting a hypothalamic-pituitary cause of the reduced bioavailable testosterone. Of the 104 men with rheumatoid arthritis, 33 had hypogonadism compared to 7 of the 99 healthy controls.
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A number of research groups have tried to further define the relationship of testosterone and body composition by artificial alteration of testosterone levels in eugonadal populations. Induction of a hypogonadal state in healthy men (Mauras et al 1998) or men with prostate cancer (Smith et al 2001) using a gonadotrophin-releasing-hormone (GnRH) analogue was shown to produce increases in fat mass and decreased fat free mass. Another experimental approach in healthy men featured suppression of endogenous testosterone production with a GnRH analogue, followed by treatment with different doses of weekly intramuscular testosterone esters for 20 weeks. Initially the experiments involved men aged 18–35 years (Bhasin et al 2001) but subsequently the study was repeated with a similar protocol in men aged 60–75 years (Bhasin et al 2005). The different doses given were shown to produce a range of serum concentrations from subphysiological to supraphysiological (Bhasin et al 2001). A given testosterone dose produced higher serum concentrations of testosterone in the older age group (Bhasin et al 2005). Subphysiological dosing of testosterone produced a gain in fat mass and loss of fat free mass during the study. There were sequential decreases in fat mass and increases in fat free mass with each increase of testosterone dose. These changes in body composition were seen in physiological and supraphysiological treatment doses. The trend was similar in younger versus older men but the gain of fat mass at the lowest testosterone dose was less prominent in older patients (Bhasin et al 2001; Bhasin et al 2005). With regard to muscle function, the investigators showed dose dependent increases in leg strength and power with testosterone treatment in young and older men but there was no improvement in fatigability (Storer et al 2003; Bhasin et al 2005).
Bottom line: testosterone boosters aren’t right for a lot of people. We dive deep into ingredient research below, but typically, testosterone boosters contain at least one (and often three or more) different ingredients that each impact your circulatory system — both the heart and blood. If you’re taking any kind of blood-thinner medication, or you have a history of heart disease, these supplements can get really dangerous, really quickly. The simple fact of the matter is that hormones are tricky things to mess with, and a doctor should be your first port of call to help you safely achieve your goals — whether they’re related to fitness, weight, or libido.
A: According to the NIH, normal values for testosterone levels in men can range from 300 to 1,200ng/dL. There can be many different causes of low testosterone including age, diseases, accidents, and medications. Symptoms of low testosterone may include: loss of sex drive, erectile dysfunction, depressed mood, and difficulty concentrating. Low testosterone levels may also bring around body changes including: hair loss, decrease in blood cells possibly leading to anemia, fragile bones, and a decrease in muscle mass. There are different testosterone replacement therapies including patches, such as Androderm; gels, such as Androgel and Testim; and injections, such as testosterone cypionate. Only your health care provider can decide if and what kind of testosterone replacement therapy is appropriate for you. Testosterone replacement therapy is not right for everyone. Patient with certain prostate issues or breast cancer should not take testosterone. For more specific information, consult with your doctor for guidance based on your health status and current medications, particularly before taking any action. Kristen Dore, PharmD