Although previous studies have been mixed on whether taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs—sold as Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor, and other brands—may be associated with a drop in testosterone levels, a new study of nearly 3,500 men seems to show such a link. Among the 3,484 Italian men in the study, those that were taking statin drugs were twice as likely to have low testosterone levels.
About one of six adults in the United States has high cholesterol, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Statins have quickly become one of the most popular classes of prescription drugs, used by about 16 percent of U.S. adults, according to the CDC. In March, the manufacturers of Crestor received FDA approval to market the drug to healthy people as a preventative measure—a move that has met controversy in the medical community, especially because taking statins is usually considered a long-term commitment.
The most commonly recognized side effects of statin drugs are muscle pains and, more rare and more seriously, kidney or liver damage. A potential link between statins and lower testosterone are not a reason to stop taking the drugs—in fact, one should never stop taking a prescription drug without first consulting a physician. But men taking statins who notice symptoms such as difficulty reaching orgasm or consistent fatigue should ask their doctors to test their testosterone levels.