A new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine undertook to analyze the effects that testosterone treatment would have on men over the age of 65 who already had low levels of testosterone. Low testosterone presents itself in the form of decreased sexual function, physical mobility, and fatigue.
The findings are the first of its kind, as studies before have proven inconclusive with regards to testosterone therapy and supplementation. The government-funded study looked for potential improvements in three areas: sexual function, physical function, and vitality.
The sexual function trial had the most promising results—participants reported having more sexual activity after the testosterone treatments, stronger feelings of sexual desire, and increased erectile function. The efficacy of the testosterone treatment was evaluated at four intervals: three months, six months, nine months, and one year.
Previous testosterone studies have been done, and they consistently showed an improvement in muscle mass and decreased fat mass when therapy was used, but studies have been inconclusive until now when it came to sexual performance, physical function, and energy. The findings have clinical relevance because the test group had an increase over the placebo group, which indicates that testosterone treatment had a definite factor in the increase experienced.
The physical function trial (walking mobility) and the vitality trial (weakness, energy) reported that there were no significant gains in the testosterone group versus the placebo group, but across the board all participants did report an increase in distance walked in six minutes. Other positive outcomes of the test showed an improvement in mood and a decrease in depressive symptoms.
The study followed 800 men over the age of 65 at 12 centers across the country. They were put into two groups, testosterone and placebo, and both groups were given a gel to use for the year.
Some studies before this have suggested that prolonged use of testosterone treatment can increase a man’s risk of prostate cancer and heart attack, but not enough research and study has been done to determine if that is conclusive. As a result of this uncertainty, the studies’ lead authors are hesitant to recommend testosterone treatment at this time because they aren’t sure how to weigh the risks against the benefits without further research.
As a man ages, testosterone levels drop, but testosterone therapy is not approved for anything other than certain medical conditions like disorders of the testicles, pituitary gland, or brain.
Source for Today’s Article:
Snyder, P.J., et al, “Effects of Testosterone Treatment in Older Men,” The New England Journal of Medicine, February 2016; 374:611–624, doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1506119.