Low testosterone affects millions of American men. Testosterone prescriptions in the United States nearly doubled in recent years from 1.2 million in 2010 to 2.2 million in 2013. Testosterone replacement is not the panacea to restore a middle aged man’s fountain of youth. However, testosterone replacement can improve a man’s sex drive or libido, can increase his energy level and does improve bone strength and a protector for osteoporosis in men.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that a single study comparing testosterone gel to placebo for one year found a “buildup of noncalcified plaque” in the coronary arteries of the men treated with testosterone. However, other studies have not demonstrated any increase in heart problems in men using testosterone.
Although the positive changes were modest in the testosterone group there was a significant improvement in men’s mood in the group using testosterone gel. The study also pointed out that older men with low testosterone levels often have other chronic health conditions, like obesity, than can affect hormone levels but these can often be managed by lifestyle changes such as an exercise program and diet.
It is important to mention that the results of the recent study do not support the promise implied by advertisements for testosterone that using it “will make you stronger and fitter,” though many men said they simply “felt better” while on the drug, and some improvements in walking could be seen when findings were analyzed.
Again, I would like to emphasize that testosterone has no place in men using these hormones for bodybuilding purposes. At the present time use of testosterone is snot approved by the FDA for bodybuilding purposes.
The Bottom Line: Hormone replacement therapy has a role in men who have symptoms of low T and documented low blood levels of testosterone. All men who receive testosterone need to have close follow up with PSA testing, a digital rectal examination and a blood count to check for overproduction of red blood cells.