A New Look at Testosterone Therapy: Older Men should Weigh the Risks and Rewards, from the June 2016 Harvard Men's Health Watch

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While testosterone replacement therapy remains controversial because of its potential health risks, it may be an option for a subgroup of men.

Millions of older men have turned to testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) to help restore their hormone levels, in hopes of refueling their energy, rebuilding their muscle mass, and reigniting their sex drive. But although declining testosterone is a normal part of aging — levels begin to drop about 2% per year beginning around age 40 — the potential benefits of TRT may not outweigh the long-term health risks, according to the June 2016 issue of the Harvard Men's Health Watch.

“Previous studies have suggested TRT may increase the chance of cardiovascular disease, but right now, the jury is still out,” says Dr. Frances Hayes, a reproductive endocrinologist with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. And while TRT may help with sexual function, including activity and desire, it is not a guaranteed fountain of youth. “Its impact is less than what many men would expect,” says Dr. Hayes.

That does not mean TRT cannot be helpful. Adequate testosterone assists in red blood cell production and increases bone density. Low levels can contribute to depression, anxiety, weight gain, and fatigue.

To learn more about the potential benefits and risks of TRT, and who is a good candidate for TRT therapy, read the full-length article: “A new look at testosterone therapy.”

Also in the June 2016 issue of the Harvard Men's Health Watch:

  • How safe is the long-term use of proton-pump inhibitors?
  • Taking a class can engage many key cognitive functions
  • Lifestyle changes can lower the risk of neck pain
  • Learn how to better protect yourself from the sun

The Harvard Men's Health Watch is available from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School, for $20 per year. Subscribe at http://www.health.harvard.edu/mens or by calling 877-649-9457 (toll-free).


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Kristen Rapoza
Harvard Health Publications
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