Testosterone May Boost Sex Drive in Older Men
... But no benefits seen in areas of vitality or physical function, trials show
By Dennis Thompson
WEDNESDAY, Feb. 17, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Testosterone therapy may restore some sexual desire and function in older men whose natural hormone levels have declined, clinical trials suggest.
However, the treatments didn't do much to improve vitality or physical function in men 65 or older, as many have believed, said co-researcher Dr. Thomas Gill.
"Men who are experiencing low desire or low sexual activity and are interested in improving in those areas, testosterone treatment would be reasonable to consider," Gill said.
But, "a physician probably wouldn't be encouraged to prescribe testosterone solely for problems with physical function or solely for low energy, based on these results," he added. Gill is a professor of geriatrics and epidemiology at Yale University and director of the Yale Program on Aging in New Haven, Conn.
The use of testosterone replacement therapy has nearly doubled in recent years, from 1.3 million patients in 2009 to 2.3 million in 2013, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The results of the latest trials "really help to put the effects of testosterone in some quantifiable context," said Dr. Eric Orwoll, associate dean for clinical sciences at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.
"I would hope this would bring a more rational approach to the decision," said Orwoll, who wrote an editorial accompanying the trial results. "You certainly can't paint testosterone supplementation as a panacea. The effects were either not present or modest. This is not going to give a lot of impetus for people to take testosterone."
The new findings, published in the Feb. 18 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, come out of the Testosterone Trials -- a federally funded set of seven clinical trials being conducted at 12 sites in the United States.
A total of 790 men 65 or older were enrolled in the Testosterone Trials, and were assigned to use either testosterone gel or a placebo gel for one year. All of the men had to have low testosterone due to aging, and had to have at least one health problem resulting from their testosterone deficiency.