Testosterone therapy for senior men with low testosterone levels holds promise when used with appropriate special care, according to a new study funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA). Not surprisingly, the testosterone therapy had a marked benefit in terms of sexual performance, but there are indications that it may have had a slight impact in other areas as well.
Entitled “Effects of Testosterone Treatment in Older Men” and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the study looked at the results of seven trials, known collectively as the T Trials. The trials looked at how testosterone therapy in men 65 and up with low levels of testosterone affected three areas: sexual function, physical function and vitality. 790 men were enrolled in these trials, which were double-blinded and placebo-controlled. That means that some men were given testosterone and some were given a placebo, and that the study investigators were not told which ones received the testosterone and which received the placebo.
Previous testosterone trials in men in this age group tended to improve muscle mass and to decrease fat, but it was difficult to determine what effect there may (or may not) have been on sexual function, physical function and vitality.
Sexual activity, sexual desire and erectile function showed improvement in those men who received testosterone treatment vs. those who received the placebo. The results in this area were significant.
Physical function was measured by walking ability. Here, there was no significant improvement; however, walking speed and distance walked did improve among the men who took the testosterone therapy.
In the area of vitality, there was no pronounced improvement in fatigue; however, the testosterone group did report improvements in terms of mood.
Special care in administering testosterone therapy in older men may be beneficial, although duplication of these results by other trials will provide more solid recommendations. Although side effects in this trial were minimal, special care in the design of future studies can further examine any potential safety risks.