Although low testosterone is a condition that affects men of all ages, deficiency is also attributed to illnesses, debility, and age. Some of the symptoms of aging are reduced sexual performance, depression, mood change, frailty, and loss of libido. Declining testosterone levels also enhance these symptoms. Recent research, however, has confirmed that there might be positive benefits to the health of older men when hormone therapy is used as treatment. The studies also suggest that there are potential risks to this type of intervention.
The Objective of the Studies
The Testosterone Trials, supported by the National Health Institutes, were a series of seven controlled clinical trials conducted between 2010-2014 at academic centers in the US as well as the Northwestern Memorial Hospital. They were undertaken in response to the lack of or insufficient evidence in older men to ascertain if testosterone treatment was an option. The studies investigated the potential risks and benefits of hormone therapy among older adults age 65 years and above. They also looked at the correlation between testosterone therapy and cognitive function, anemia, and coronary arterial plaque.
Positive Outcomes for Seniors
There are various methods to improve testosterone levels but the trials looked at the effects of testosterone gel among 788 men 65 years or older for a period of 12 months. The findings from the first trials which were conducted on seniors with no other known medical condition other than low testosterone were positive. The results suggested that testosterone treatment improved sexual function. It also had a moderate but positive effect on mood and depressive symptoms.
Another encouraging outcome of the treatment was increased haemoglobin levels in 54% of men who had unexplained anemia and 52% for those with known causes. The control group had only experienced 15% and 12% improvements, respectively.
Associated Risks and Dangers
Unfortunately, compared to placebo, testosterone treatment did not improve memory or other cognitive functions among older men who have memory impairments associated with age. Although previous studies suggest that testosterone treatment may improve cognitive function, this is not the case in these clinical trials.
Moreover, the use of the testosterone gel was associated with increased volume of artery plaque in older subjects. Plaque narrows your coronary arteries and reduces the flow of blood to your heart. Increased plaque will lead to a build-up that could clog arterial ways.
Without a doubt, hormone therapy for older adults has benefits such as enhanced sexual function, better mood and less depressive symptoms. But, it also carries risks for seniors, the most important of which is increased artery plaque that could affect the flow of blood to the heart and brain. Like any other treatment, discussing the risks and advantages with a medical professional, based on an individual’s case ensures that you will reap the benefits and not harm your health.