A low testosterone treatment study found no significant improvement in the sex lives, strength, or mood of a group of male participants. The results of the government-sponsored research is the first one to provide proof as to whether some popular “low-t” booster supplements actually help with low sex drive, lack of energy, and other age-related problems.
As reported by Fox News, nearly 800 men over the age of 65 participated in the testosterone study. All volunteers showed signs of low testosterone, the primary male sex hormone. Some men were asked to use a testosterone booster gel while others used a placebo gel.
For a year, the men rubbed the gel on their skin every day. Various questionnaires were completed and a six-minute walking test was administered during the study.
The researchers did not determine if any benefits would have been experienced by younger men or if there was any difference between using the testosterone booster gel versus pills. Also, no determination was ever made regarding any increased risk for heart attack or prostate cancer as some testosterone studies have suggested in the past.
The results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, indicated a very modest improvement in sexual desire and erectile function for the testosterone treatment group. While there was a small elevation in mood and walking strength, energy levels of the two groups remained the same.
Dr. Peter Snyder, a hormone specialist with the University of Pennsylvania, said more research needs to be done before specific treatment can be recommended.
“Making a recommendation depends on knowing all the benefits versus risks,” he said. “We still don’t know everything we want to know.”
In 2009, the National Institute on Aging announced an initiative to review the risks and benefits of low testosterone boosters extensively marketed to men and has funded seven studies thus far. This recent research combines the results of three of these studies. The results of the other four, which looked at testosterone’s effect on cognitive function, bone density, heart function, and anemia, are not yet available.
Testosterone naturally declines as a man ages. Generally, booster supplements are recommended when certain medical conditions accelerate that decline.
However, feeling the effects of age, many men actively look for ways to boost testosterone in an effort to recapture some of their youth. As a result, millions of men have tried low testosterone treatment gels or other low-T boosters, making it a multibillion-dollar industry.
Dr. Eric Orwoll, a physician at Oregon Health and Science University, says the findings reveal that a low testosterone treatment is not the fountain of youth that many men hope for.
“There is a lot of prescribing out there, and it doesn’t look like, for the average man, it will have a big effect.”
During the study, the men using the real gel measured testosterone levels similar to those of men aged 19 to 40. Yet, most of the participants did not seem to notice.
Around 20 percent of the men in the study reported that sexual desire improved significantly, while 30 percent said there was only a minor improvement. The other half reported no change. One in three men using the placebo gel did experience some improvement in sexual desire.
Among men who shared a similar low testosterone score, both the testosterone and the placebo participants showed comparable improvements during the walking test. However, when all participants were included in the results, 21 percent of the men using the testosterone treatment achieved the walking goal versus 13 percent of the placebo men.
While some of the men experienced a heart attack or prostate cancer during or after the study, there was no evidence to suggest that the low testosterone booster was to blame. The director of the National Institute on Aging, Dr. Richard Hodes, wants to see the results of the other testosterone studies before deciding to pursue more research into the potential long-term risks.
The participants of the low testosterone treatment study did not know whether they had been using the real gel or the fake gel until after the study was complete. ABBVie Pharmaceuticals provided the testosterone booster gel for the research and partially funded the study.[Photo by Gene J. Puskar/AP]