Why testosterone isn't just for men

The moment I write the word "testosterone," I can sense all my female readers skipping ahead to the next story.

Do so at your own risk because the so-called manly hormone isn't just for male sexual health and sports cheats. EVERYONE needs it -- and a new study proves what I've been saying all along: It's positively critical for heart health.

Some 200 patients battling heart failure were given either testosterone supplementation (via patches, gels, or injections) or a placebo for between 12 weeks and a year.

Those who got the hormones were able to walk 50 percent further -- 177 extra feet on average -- and had higher levels of oxygen in their bodies during a six-minute walking test when compared to those on the placebo.

I realize that 177 feet may not sound like much if you've never suffered a serious heart problem before. But trust me, for someone recovering from heart failure it's a world of difference.

It can be the difference between getting out and staying in. And who the heck wants to stay in?

Although most of the patients in the study were men, researchers say it's pretty obvious the benefits extend to women.

No kidding.

I was prescribing testosterone supplementation for women probably before those researchers were even born, because the benefits in men and women alike go way beyond 177 extra feet of walking power.

Just don't wait for the heart to fail to boost your own levels of the hormone -- because testosterone can help prevent heart problems from happening in the first place. Since testosterone also helps keep blood flowing, it can ward off strokes as well.

And if you're a lady, here's a couple more reasons to make sure you've got enough: Testosterone can keep osteoporosis at bay and even prevent breast cancer.

Women need levels between 50 and 100 nanograms per cc. Don't go any higher; this stuff will literally put hair on your chest if you do. Gents, you need about 10 times as much -- for your heart and, of course, "down there."

A doc who knows his hormones can get you sorted out and back on track no matter if you're a man or a woman.