Even before scheduling an appointment with a doctor, says Edmund Sabanegh, director of the Center for Male Infertility at the Cleveland Clinic, think about what you could do on your own that could help. A healthy diet and regular exercise are at the top of the list. "Do the things that our moms told us to do," says Sabanegh. Stress, alcohol, and steroid use can also depress testosterone levels.
It's not as if testosterone therapy is perfectly safe. Last June NIH officials announced the cancellation of Testosterone in Older Men, a trial involving 209 participants ages 65 and older, when 23 of the 106 who were using a testosterone gel experienced heart attacks and other cardiovascular events; one man died from a suspected heart attack. Other known risks from testosterone supplements include shrinking testicles, limited sperm production, infertility, acne, sleep apnea, increased risk of blood clots, and heart disease. And supplements are dangerous for men with prostate cancer, since the hormone stimulates growth of prostate tissue.