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Testosterone Therapy Boosts Libido In Older Men -- But Not This

There's good news and not-so-good news.

Could this be the male version of "I'm not in the mood, Honey?" 

A University of Pennsylvania study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that men 65 and older responded favorably when treated with a gel containing the male hormone testosterone inasmuch as they saw modest gains in their sex drive. But the treatments did little to improve their vitality or how far they could walk. 

The gel was tested in seven different trials. The new report looked only at the trials that assessed the impact of the testosterone gel on sexual function, physical function and vitality. Data on its effect on bones and cognitive function, and whether it causes anemia or heart problems, are still being analyzed, reports Reuters.

Testosterone levels in men decrease with age and have been associated with declines in sexual function, energy and mobility. While testosterone treatments to reverse those issues have had inconsistent outcomes, many men flock to them in the hope of restoring their diminished sex drives. And the medical industry has been quick to respond. As the New York Times reported, "Pharmaceutical companies ... aim to convince men that common effects of aging like slowing down a bit and feeling less sexual actually constitute a new disease, and that they need a prescription to cure it. This is a seductive message for many men, who just want to feel better than they do, and want to give it a shot, literally."

The problem is that prescription testosterone doesn’t just give your T level a boost: It can also increase the risk of heart attack. A study published in the journal PLoS ONE in 2014 found that, within three months, taking the hormone doubled the rate of heart attacks in men 65 and older, as well as in younger men who had heart disease.

The number of testosterone prescriptions given to American men has tripled since 2001. Sales of all testosterone-boosting drugs are estimated to have been $2 billion in 2012, and are projected to hit $5 billion by 2017, reported The Times.

The results of the most recent study found that "in symptomatic men 65 years of age or older, raising testosterone concentrations for one year from moderately low to the mid-normal range for men 19 to 40 years of age had a moderate benefit with respect to sexual function and some benefit with respect to mood and depressive symptoms but no benefit with respect to vitality or walking distance."

The study noted that the number of participants was too few to draw conclusions about the risks of testosterone treatment.

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