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Testosterone treatment improved primarily sexual function than walking or vitality in older men with low testosterone levels

Reporter and Curator: Dr. Sudipta Saha, Ph.D.

A preliminary study of testosterone therapy in older men with low levels of the hormone and clinical conditions to which low testosterone might contribute, found that restoring levels to those of healthy young men improved sexual function. Treatment had a smaller effect on other aspects of health, such as the ability to walk or the sense of vitality.

 

A high proportion of older men have testosterone levels well below those found in healthy younger men. In most cases, these low levels are not due to diseases known to affect testosterone levels, such as testicular or pituitary conditions. Many of these men also have symptomatic problems that could be related to low testosterone, including diminished sexual function, decreased mobility and fatigue.

 

For a long time, there has been interest in whether testosterone is an appropriate therapy for aging-related conditions in men. This study clarifies questions about some of its potential benefits. The study did not find a pattern of increased cardiovascular disease risk. Clarifying the risks requires further study.

 

Participants included 790 men age 65 and older with serum testosterone levels consistently well below the average for young healthy men. They were randomized to receive testosterone gel applied to the skin or a placebo gel daily. Serum testosterone concentration was measured at one, two, three, six, nine and 12 months. The men were also closely monitored for prostate and cardiovascular problems. In addition to low testosterone, the presence of at least one of three conditions (low sexual function, difficulty in walking or low vitality) was required for eligibility to participate in the T Trials (Testosterone Trials).

 

  • Sexual function — In men with low sexual function, testosterone treatment increased sexual activity, sexual desire and erectile function more than placebo treatment.

 

  • Physical function — In men with difficulty in walking, testosterone treatment did not significantly affect walking ability, as measured by the distance they could walk in six minutes (a common test of walking ability). However, in all men, walking speed and distance did improve among those who received testosterone compared with placebo.

 

  • Vitality — In the group of men with symptoms of low vitality and fatigue, testosterone treatment did not significantly affect fatigue symptoms, but had modest favorable effects on mood.

 

The trials’ results indicate that, for older men with low sexual function, testosterone treatment can contribute to improved function. In contrast, though, the results don’t indicate that testosterone treatment for older men with low walking ability or vitality will improve these conditions to a great extent. Older men should consult their physicians if considering a testosterone treatment.

 

References:

 

http://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-supported-trials-test-hormonal-therapy-older-men-low-testosterone-levels

 

http://www.uptodate.com/contents/overview-of-testosterone-deficiency-in-older-men

 

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/sexual-health/in-depth/testosterone-therapy/art-20045728

 

http://www.webmd.com/men/features/low-testosterone-explained-how-do-you-know-when-levels-are-too-low

 

http://www.healthline.com/health/side-effects-of-low-testosterone

 

http://www.health.harvard.edu/mens-health/hormone-replacement-the-male-version

 

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