Therapist are seeing Testosterone related issues in their practices….
The Risks of taking Testosterone by Arnold R. Lopez, LCSW
I’ve been a marriage therapist for 37 years and have a strong sense of the common pitfalls within marriages. From codependency issues, substance abuse, sexual abuse issues and more.
About 5 years ago I started to see something in my practice I hadn’t seen before. More and more individuals and couples I was working with were using testosterone replacement therapy. This started to create problems in their relationships from rage, hypersexual disorder, extra martial affairs and more.
It has become very fashionable for people to use testosterone replacement therapy with the promise that they will stay young, have an improved sex drive and vigor for life. Many doctors are developing clinics that boast of these results. It has become a very profitable medical approach; Labeled as a naturopathic cure for what ails you.
Because of what I ‘ve seen in my practice, I knew I needed to add the question, “are you currently using testosterone replacement therapy” to my intake forms.
When one makes the decision to go to one of the clinics, most likely, the tests involve checking hormonal levels and in many cases, insurance will not cover these. When one receives the results they are put on a hormone protocol and profitable supplements that are recommended after an evaluation of your blood chemistry. This reality has driven a common recommendation that suggests supplementing with testosterone injections, pellets, creams or pills.
I had one naturopathic evaluation done on myself, which was very expensive. The recommendation was testosterone injections with a variety of supplements. The physician told me I was on a “fast track” to aging, without a higher level of testosterone. This, of course, alarmed me, because our culture promotes a fear of aging and a drive to stay more youthful. I chose to try this approach to stay youthful, but quickly decided against it. This is why:
Testosterone has affected many of my clients; one professional man destroyed his marriage after starting testosterone injections. Over time, he became agitated, hypersexual in his marriage and began hiring prostitutes, which he had never done before. It cost him his marriage and the respect of his community, not to mention the pain his children experienced.
Another case involved a middle-aged woman who had completed menopause and hoped to retain her youthful appearance and a vigorous sex life with her husband. She chose to have testosterone pellet implants every 6 months. Because of this higher testosterone level, at age 55, she expected to have sex nightly. This left her husband feeling avoidant of their sexual relationship, because of the disparity in sex drives.
Another client lost his marriage due to his reactivity that developed due to testosterone use. There was a domestic violence incident because of the rage he was experiencing.
Another female client had the pellet implants and her testosterone level skyrocketed to abnormal levels. She became hypersexual and made some very risky decisions with her sexuality. She experimented with sexual behavior she hadn’t before. Her testosterone level remained abnormally high for a long period of time and left her with the effects of sexual trauma and unexplained health problems after her testosterone normalized.
I work with many men and woman who have been using testosterone and have developed destructive behavior. I use several different modalities: Marriage and Relationship Repair and Development-Advanced Training in Emotionally Focused Therapy Model, EMDR, Shame reduction, self esteem development and a strength based approached to healing and personal growth.
To be fair about the medical uses of testosterone I have had clients with HIV benefit from testosterone, because of muscle wasting syndrome that often occurs with the complications of HIV and the medications that these clients must take for the illness. I have also had clients with chronic pain and autoimmune conditions benefit from this treatment. In each case it was carefully determined how low their testosterone levels actually were and these levels were carefully monitored to watch the effect of the testosterone on their hormonal levels. It is essential to keep track of all other hormones if you are taking a testosterone supplement. Because of the delicate balance these hormones need to maintain our physical and mental well-being, it is wise to see a specialist such as an endocrinologist who carefully monitors this and is not just in the business of selling testosterone.
There is too much at stake to use testosterone as casually as it is used today. As part of my psychotherapy practice, I have helped those who have experienced the harmful effects of too much testosterone. I have been helping individuals and couples recover from emotional and psychological injuries caused by addictive behavior. There is hope. Because of education and awareness, people begin to understand how addictive behavior, driven by a chemical, is a medical problem. They can begin the road to self-forgiveness.
I felt it was important to share because we as the behavioral health community need to collaborate on new ways to treat our clients who are experiencing testosterone induced issues and we have a responsibility to the public to share knowledge and educate them on the risks involved in using testosterone.
If you or your loved one is experiencing behavior that is out of character for you I would be honored to be part of the vulnerable repair process with self and others to get you and loved ones in a healthy space.
Arnold Lopez, LCSW
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