Prescription Testosterone Gets New Warning

The chemical formula for testosterone
(Image credit: Zerbor/

The labels on prescription testosterone will now carry a new warning about the serious health risks that have been linked with abuse of these products.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the new labels today (Oct. 25), saying that some people abuse testosterone drugs. For example, the agency said, athletes and body builders have been known to take doses that are higher than those prescribed, and to use testosterone together with other anabolic steroids.

Such abuse has been linked with serious health and safety risks, including heart attacks, stroke, depression, liver toxicity and male infertility, as well as hostility and aggression, the FDA said. In addition, people who abuse testosterone may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the drug. Those symptoms can include fatigue, irritability, loss of appetite, insomnia and decreased libido.

The new warning is intended to alert doctors about the potential for abuse of testosterone products and the serious health risks linked with abuse, the FDA said. The labels will also advise prescribers who suspect abuse to measure their patients' blood testosterone levels. [5 Myths About the Male Body]

Prescription testosterone is approved as a treatment only for men who have low testosterone levels due to certain medical conditions, the FDA said. This includes hereditary conditions that prevent the production of testosterone, or damage to the testicles — from chemotherapy, infection or other causes — that affects testosterone production, the agency said.

Still, some doctors prescribe testosterone to men who experience natural declines of the hormone with age. Such treatments for "low T" are controversial. A 2013 study found that about 25 percent of men who received prescription testosterone did not have their testosterone levels measured before beginning the treatment.

Original article on Live Science.

Rachael Rettner

Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.