There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical of ads for low-T gels and creams. For one, it's so difficult to define just what low levels of testosterone look like for men, that in many cases it's hard to know if you even have a problem that merits drugs. Now, a new report finds that the treatments might not work anyway — at least when it comes to boosting your sex drive or performance in bed. The study looked at more than 300 men with low testosterone levels, and found that after three years, those using hormone-replacement gel saw no real improvements in sexual desire, erectile function, or partner intimacy versus men not prescribed the drug.
"Many men, as they get older, experience a decline in testosterone and in sexual function and vitality," says researcher Shalender Bhasin. "But our study finds that taking testosterone, when levels are in the low to low normal range, may not improve sexual function or quality of life."
And even more important than what low-T drugs don't do is what the drugs are known to do, says Dr. Lisa Schwartz, a researcher at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, who was not involved with this study. "We know testosterone causes dangerous blood clots in the legs and lungs, increases PSA levels, and possibly leads to heart attacks," she says. "But we don't know that testosterone replacement for healthy men has any real upside. Why take the risks for no proven benefit?"