If you have been following me and reading my articles, you know by now that Low testosterone, or low T, affects at least one in four men, starting around the young age of 30. In addition to a decreased libido and erectile dysfunction, low T is also associated with fatigue, depression, inability to concentrate, and other brain function issues. Physically, if you have low testosterone, you will probably notice some hair loss, weight gain, especially that awesome belly fat, fragile bones and even thin skin. The thin skin thing is really annoying. Every time I play with my boxer, I end up looking like someone has abused me because of all the bruises on my arms.
Now, I have discovered even more causes of low testosterone. I call them low testosterone causing drugs.
Great, More Causes of Low T!
We know the cause of low testosterone can be related to physical issues, aging, depression, and all the other things I have written about. It is also unfortunately true in many cases, prescription and non-prescription drugs can cause Low T. Multiple studies have now shown, prescription and street drugs alike, are among the most common reasons that low testosterone is a bigger problem today, than ever before.
Prescription drugs obviously do a lot of good, just ask the big pharmaceutical companies. But, they also interfere with your body’s testosterone production, which can and will lead to short and/or long-term effects.
Prescription Medications – Helping or Hurting Us in the Long Run?
Science is amazing and because of that, there are now medications which can lower cholesterol and blood pressure, control type 2 diabetes, prevent heart attacks, control pain and many other physical issues. If you have anxiety and depression, there are also medications to help you go through each day without negative feelings invading your brain and taking over.
The sad and frustrating part is, many of these helpful drugs can also cause low T.
Here are some common drugs that have the highest known impact on your testosterone levels:
- Statins – This is any of a group of drugs that act to reduce levels of fats, including triglycerides and cholesterol, in the blood.
Cholesterol is an essential component of the sex hormones. Lowering your cholesterol levels through the use of statins can cause lowered levels of testosterone. If you need to take statins to lower your cholesterol, you are also cutting off the main source of your androgenic hormone production. Unfortunately, it is just that simple. The body needs cholesterol to make testosterone, and statin drugs are short-circuiting that process.
- Beta-Blockers and Hypertension Medications – These type of drugs, are used for the treatment of irregular heart rhythms, chest pain, heart attack, hypertension, migraine headaches, social phobias, tremors, and glaucoma.
Some prescription beta blockers and those that reduce blood pressure through diuretics, can reduce the amount of testosterone in your body. There are many other prescription drugs available that offer the same heart-saving protection without causing low T.
- Opioids – These are a class of drugs that act on pain receptors in the central nervous system. They are also called opiates or prescription painkillers.
You or someone you know has probably been prescribed these for pain. Some you are probably familiar with are Codeine, Morphine, Oxycodone (OxyContin), Fentanyl, Hydrocodone (Vicodin) and Methadone. For pain, there is none more routinely prescribed for relief than opioids. As a cough suppressant, or for recovery from surgery, injury, or chronic pain, opioids are often the prescription of choice for doctors, and patients as well. This pain relief unfortunately comes with a price! For men taking long-acting opioids – in other words, those taken every eight to 12 hours – the risk of developing low testosterone is 5 times that of men who take their opioid pain relievers every four hours. It is also true, even short-term opioids use can lower testosterone levels significantly.
- Antidepressants and Anti-Anxiety Medications – Used to treat depression, dysthymia, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Many prescription drugs used to control anxiety and depression will lower your testosterone. There are some which your doctor can prescribe that will have less of an impact on your hormone levels. If you suspect your antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication is interfering with your testosterone levels, ask your physician if there is an alternative available.
Of course, as my luck would have it, I was never made aware that taking Zoloft was going to lower my testosterone levels. If I had known, I would have asked for an alternative. Oh well, live and learn, I guess. Hopefully everyone reading this will gain from my mistakes.
- Illegal Drugs and Alcohol – I think you all know what these are.
We all already know, abusing drugs and alcohol has many catastrophic effects on the body. Binge-drinking, frequent excessive drinking, and far too many street drugs will lower your testosterone, and obviously, many other health problems. If you find drug or alcohol use is the most important thing in your like, please seek help. If you don’t, the effects on your health are bad enough just because of the lowering of your testosterone, and even worse with the damage to your liver and your brain cells. For those who use street drugs and recreational drugs, be aware, these will also cause a reduction of your testosterone levels.
- Ketoconazole – This is an antifungal medication that fights infections caused by fungus.
You may have never heard the name, I know I hadn’t, but if you’ve ever had athlete’s foot, dermatitis, or dandruff then you have probably used this ingredient. And, it has been proven as described in an article in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal, to block your body from making testosterone.
- Antihistamines – These can give relief when a person has nasal congestion, sneezing, or hives because of pollen, dust mites, or animal allergy.
Cimetidine is the ingredient in antihistamines that has been proven to block the production of testosterone in the body. The effects of this drug on your testosterone is fortunately short term, so after you are done resolving your issue and stop taking it, your T levels will return to normal.
Let’s Take a Closer Look at the Impact of Opioids on Testosterone Levels
A recent study published in The Clinical Journal of Pain, focused on 81 men between the ages of 26 and 79 who had been taking an opioid for at least three months. None of the men had previously been diagnosed with low testosterone. All of the men were being treated for chronic pain conditions, like low back pain, chronic headaches, and rheumatoid arthritis.
We know that normal testosterone levels are typically between 300 and 1000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL), but this range is dependent on age. For the duration of this study, men were considered to have low testosterone if their total testosterone levels were less than or equal to 250 ng/dL.
Of the men taking long-acting opioids, a staggering 74% had low testosterone. For the men taking short-acting opioids only 34% had low testosterone. Any percentage is to high, if you asked me!
Looks Like the Pharmaceutical Companies Literally Have us by the Testicles!
If you are experiencing symptoms of low testosterone, the drugs or medications you are using may be the reason, or at least a factor to be considered. Be sure to discuss your questions and concerns about low testosterone and drug use with your endocrinologist. Always ask for alternatives to these drugs that cause low testosterone.
Best of luck and I hope this information has helped you in some way! Feel free to comment below and share with your friends.