These 5 common drugs sink your testosterone

My colleague Craig Cooper wrote to you about how you might not need testosterone therapy, but “L” or Lifestyle Therapy in order to boost testosterone.

While he and I were speaking about the dangers of testosterone boosting drugs, I also wanted to write to you about a related subject …

You see it’s not always “boosting” testosterone that can help you recover your youthful levels. Sometimes you get more from less … specifically, getting rid of the common, sometimes over-the-counter drugs that can lower testosterone.

You see those who make remedies for low testosterone, commonly referred to as low T, typically urge men to explore the use of synthetic testosterone products to remedy their situation.

But they hardly ever ask the question, “What is causing your low testosterone?”

Yet one answer is pharmaceutical drugs themselves.

The testosterone level of a healthy young male generally ranges from 300 to 800 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl), with figures of less than 300 ng/dL generally considered to be low T (also known as hypogonadism).

Symptoms of low testosterone may include a reduction in muscle mass, decline in bone density (raising osteoporosis risk), low libido, memory problems, concentration difficulties, depression, weight gain, erectile dysfunction and lack of energy. Testosterone levels naturally begin to decline gradually around age 30.

The magnitude and extent of low testosterone associated with medication use is not yet fully understood, but a new study has shed some light on at least one problematic class of drugs: the opioids.

Growing awareness

We’ve known that opioids such as hydrocodone (Vicodin) and oxycodone (Oxycontin) can lower testosterone levels. However, long-acting opioids have a huge effect.

Investigators in a Kaiser Permanente study compared use of short-acting and long-acting opioids in 81 men being treated for chronic pain for at least three months.

The important thing to note is that none of the men had low testosterone before entering treatment. Three months later, however, that had changed.

Seventy-four percent of the men who were using long-acting opioids had low testosterone, compared with 34 percent of men who used short-acting opioids. After allowing for daily dosage and body mass, the authors concluded that men using long-acting drugs were nearly five times more likely to have low testosterone.

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Five that cause low testosterone

A number of other drugs and medications have been associated with low testosterone.

These include:

Statins: Men who take statins to lower cholesterol are also cutting off the main source of their androgenic hormone production. It’s that simple. The body needs cholesterol to make testosterone, and statin drugs short-circuit that process.

Ketoconazole: You may have never heard the name, but if you’ve ever had athlete’s foot, dermatitis, or dandruff then you’ve used this ingredient. And it’s been proven to block your body from making testosterone.   

Antihistamines: Ever taken a drug for acid reflux or heartburn? Cimetidine is the offending ingredient that also blocks the body from producing testosterone.

Illicit drugs: Besides opioids, other illicit drug use, including anabolic steroids, marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines, are associated with low testosterone and other factors that affect male infertility.

Antidepressants: Use of antidepressants is supposed to help lift your spirits, but these drugs may also bring testosterone levels down. If you are being treated with antidepressants, be sure to talk to your doctor about the possibility of a negative impact on your testosterone levels.

If you are experiencing symptoms of low testosterone, the drugs or medications you are using may be a factor. Be sure to discuss your questions and concerns about low testosterone and drug use with a knowledgeable professional.

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Dr. Geo Espinosa

By Dr. Geo Espinosa

Dr. Geo Espinosa is a naturopathic doctor, licensed acupuncturist and certified functional medicine practitioner recognized as an authority in holistic urology and men’s health. He is Clinical Assistant Professor and holistic clinician in Urology at New York University Langone Medical Center. As an avid researcher and writer, Dr. Geo has authored numerous scientific papers and books including co-editing the Integrative Sexual Health book, and author of the best selling prostate cancer book: Thrive, Don't Only Survive.