Older men who use testosterone treatments such as AndroGel, Axiron and Testim to treat low testosterone and low libido are more likely to show renewed interest in sex and to have sex more often than similar men not using the testosterone gels, a new study shows. However, they are also at risk for suffering a cardiovascular event while using the drugs, according to previous studies.
Testosterone replacement therapy is intended for men with hypogonadism, a condition in which the body does not produce enough testosterone due to disease or injury. It is not intended for naturally occurring age-related hypogonadism. Despite this, manufacturers of testosterone treatments have heavily marketed the products for men as a kind of “fountain of youth,” coining the phrase “Low T” and pushing the product as a treatment for low libido, muscle loss and weight gain.
The latest study on efficacy of testosterone treatments in men 65 years of age and older, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, involved 470 men with low testosterone and randomized them to receive either AndroGel or a placebo for one year. Researchers found that the men enjoyed significant improvements on 10 to 12 measures of sexual activity, such as frequency of sexual intercourse. But the synthetic hormone did not improve erectile dysfunction.
A previous study indicates that testosterone treatments may be linked to an increased risk of death, heart attack and stoke. A separate study published in The New England Journal of Medicine of 209 men with a mean age of 74 years with a high prevalence of co-morbidities such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity, was prematurely canceled after an unusually large number of men taking testosterone (23 men) suffered an adverse cardiovascular event compared to five men who were not taking the hormone.