Is testosterone therapy a good thing?

Created date

May 10th, 2017
Test tube with blood sample and labeled Testosterone Test

Recent research sheds new light on the risks and benefits of testosterone therapy in men over age 65. Four studies, collectively known as the TTrials, are the largest trials to date that examined the effect of testosterone treatment in men over age 65 who had low testosterone due to age.

Testosterone begins dropping in men at age 30 and goes down gradually from there. Excessively low testosterone, however, can be associated with symptoms such as fatigue, depression, and a decreased sex drive. According to some endocrinologists, low testosterone is becoming an increasingly common diagnosis.

One-year trial

The TTrials examined the effects of testosterone treatments in men over a period of one year in four areas: anemia, bone density, cardiovascular health, and cognitive function.

Results were mixed: Over half of the men in the anemia study showed significant rises in red blood cell levels, compared to the placebo group. In addition, men taking testosterone had increased bone density—especially in the spine, compared to the placebo group.

On the other hand, results were not positive in the area of cardiovascular health or cognitive function. The testosterone group had significantly more plaque in their coronary arteries, and there was essentially no change in cognitive function in either the treated group or the placebo group.

The researchers said that other long-term studies have shown that testosterone is beneficial for sexual dysfunction, but more research is needed to assess whether the TTrials results have clinical significance and to determine the long-term effects of taking testosterone.