Testosterone therapy not as effective as it seems, halts progression of atherosclerosis but does not help with sexual function

By @Guneet_B on
Injectable drugs are pictured inside an injection room
Injectable drugs are pictured inside an injection room at a hospital in Shanghai May 4, 2014. Picture taken May 4, 2014. Reuters/Aly Song

An increased number of people around the world are opting for a testosterone therapy for an enhanced sexual life. However, a new study claims that it does not seem to alter the quality of life in terms of sexual health in older men, and produces no significant difference in the rate of change of the thickening of the arterial walls.

The three-year-study conducted by the researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, or BWH, found that testosterone therapy resulted in no progression of the hardening or thickening of the arterial walls in older men with lower levels of testosterone. However, the researchers also found that the administration of testosterone has no qualitative effect in terms of health-related quality of life or enhanced sexual function in men.

“The results of this trial suggest that testosterone should not be used indiscriminately by men,” said lead researcher Shalender Bhasin of the BWH, in a press release.

“We find that men with low and low normal testosterone are unlikely to derive benefits in terms of sexual function or quality of life, two reasons why men may seek testosterone therapy. And although we find that testosterone did not affect the rate of hardening of the arteries, we need long-term data from large trials to determine testosterone’s effects on other major cardiovascular events.”

Bhasin, who lead BWH's research programme in Men’s Health: Aging and Metabolism, and his team recruited 300 males aged above 60 with low testosterone levels ranging between 100 and 400 ng/dL. The research team looked at the signs of atherosclerosis in all the men. To assess the quality of life in terms of sexual health, the participants were asked to fill a questionnaire.

The participants were asked to apply testosterone gel daily for a period of three years. At the same time, a group of men applied the placebo gel. The researchers discovered that the progression of the thickening of the arteries did stop, however, the sexual function remained the same.

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