Men’s Health: The Dangerous World of Testosterone Replacement Therapy

by Marcel Hernandez, ND

I’ve long felt that TV drug commercials are dangerously misleading.

They show us happy, healthy people engaged in fun activities, in lovely settings.

Marcel Hernandez, ND, of Pacific Naturopathic in Mountain View, CaliforniaThe message: “This drug will give you a wonderful life!”

And then comes a low-voiced, rapid-fire litany of the drug’s ominous side effects.

As a naturopathic doctor with a varied practice that includes a strong focus on men’s health, I find the TV ads for testosterone boosters particularly disturbing.

There’s no question that, for most men, the body’s testosterone levels will decrease with age.

The common assumption is that if we administer a testosterone stimulant or straight-on testosterone, it will fix the ageing male’s problems with lowered libido, diminished energy, and other conditions related to “andropause.”

(If you haven’t heard of andropause, it means “male menopause.”)

Like menopause, andropause is caused by the hormonal shifts that naturally come with aging

The difference is that in men, these hormonal shifts may take as long as 15 years, whereas in women they happen much faster.

A man’s slow hormonal shift gives him a chance to adapt gracefully. Sometimes, a man will hardly notice the changes at all.

In fact, we may only discover them if we compare the man’s hormonal functioning today and in years past.

The  ads for testosterone enhancers touch a sensitive chord in men. At best, the ads perform a service, by making men aware of their gradually declining quality of life.

Most of my ageing male patients have noticed the decline and just want to enjoy the highest quality of life.

But are there any risks associated with testosterone enhancement and supplementation?

To find out, let’s look at how the body breaks down testosterone.

Note: DO NOT TRY TO UNDERSTAND THE FOLLOWING CHART. Unless you’re a doctor or scientist, it will be meaningless!

I’ve placed it here to make a simple point: the way the body breaks down testosterone is delicate, precise, and very complex. Interfering with the body’s natural testosterone processing can be (as always when we tinker with nature), potentially quite risky.


The right (blue) side of the chart shows how the body transforms testosterone into estradiol, and then estrone and estriol.

And here’s the single most important point to take away from this column:

Estradiol is one of the main causative factors in prostrate cancer. So, before you decide to try to increase your testosterone levels, a very good question to ask is: “How will it change my estradiol levels?”

To belabor the obvious: prostate cancer will have a much greater impact on your quality of life than low testosterone!!

The good news is that we can take a safe and sane, gradual approach to improving your hormonal health.

Salivary hormone testing can tell us a great deal about the status of your personal hormone status.

With this knowledge, we can safely adjust your hormonal balance to an appropriate, healthy level.

To discuss your health issues, give us a call at (650) 917-1121, or use the Contact Form.

Your doctor can order a male hormone panel testing kit here.

For more on Dr. Marcel’s work, click HERE.