In men, one of the most important hormones needed to maintain health is testosterone. Often, on average and in old age, its decline is observed, exceeding the standard indicators typical for the process of physiological aging of the organism. In this case, the potency of men may suffer, the mood and emotional tone decrease, muscle mass and fat metabolism suffer. Some time ago, testosterone replacement therapy was widely used, but when using hormonal drugs, it turned out that there are side effects and negative effects on the heart and other tissues and organs. When is replacement therapy needed, and when is testosterone intake dangerous?
Testosterone Medicines: Pros and Cons
Concerning testosterone therapy to improve mood, increase potency in men and normalize the general condition, an important note needs to be made. Drugs are shown at really low testosterone levels, confirmed by a blood test.
Among men who have really low testosterone (for example, hypogonadism ), there are certain symptoms in which the use of drugs with testosterone can help. Fatigue, increased body fat, suppression of sexual desire and erection, difficulty concentrating and other symptoms may be manifestations of low testosterone.
However, older men with normal levels of testosterone will not slow down aging when treated with this hormone. Medicines in such cases, dangerous, they provoke complications in the heart and can cause serious pathologies.
Male hormones: a role for the body
Testosterone is a male hormone (androgen), which is mainly produced in the testes. It affects bone density, muscle number and strength, fat distribution in the body, hair growth on the face and body, sperm production, male potency, and red blood cell production.
The level of hormones, including testosterone, changes during the life of men. During puberty, between the ages of 10 and 14, testosterone production increases. Starting from peak levels in adolescence and in adolescence, the amount of hormone gradually decreases, by about 1% per year, starting at 30-40 years.
The normal total testosterone range is from 265 to 915 nanometers per deciliter for young men aged 19 to 39 years. If hormones do not meet age standards and there are signs of testosterone deficiency, replacement therapy is indicated. In the absence of symptoms in men aged 65 and over, only low hormones should not be a reason for prescribing drugs.
Replacement Therapy: Negative Effects on the Heart and the Body
At one time, hormone replacement therapy was especially popular among men. But today, doctors are trying to use it as little as possible because of the potentially negative effect of an excess of hormones on the heart and metabolism in general. In 2013 in JAMA Internal Medicine published a study that analyzed the hospitalization of more than 10 million men aged 40 years and older between 2001 and 2011 related to the problems of substitution therapy. During this decade, substitution therapy with androgens in the form of gels, skin stickers, pills, and injections has been very common.
In the five-year period between studies, conclusions about the possible pathologies of the heart and the risks of stroke due to testosterone treatment have appeared in several medical publications. In October 2016, changes to drug instructions were approved to highlight potential heart-related side effects and mental health risks.
Testosterone and Aging
It is believed that aging in the male body is associated with a decrease in testosterone levels. In this regard, there was a surge of interest in this hormone replacement therapy to help the man stay young and strong. But it is important to understand that, in addition to the aging process, hormones regulate many other body functions, and their excess can have a very negative effect on health.
Therefore, aging and various body changes in men when taking testosterone are actively studied. One study evaluated the effect of testosterone on the progression of atherosclerosis of the arteries in men aged 60 years and older. The researchers found that atherosclerosis (accumulation of plaques in the coronary arteries) did not progress in subjects who received testosterone. On the other hand, sexual desire, potency in men, a general assessment of sexual function, and health-related quality of life did not differ significantly between the groups receiving hormones and placebo.
Potency in men, health, mood
A series of studies conducted over three years was devoted to the effect of substitution therapy on the lives of men. Seven double-blind controlled studies included about 800 people, whose average age was 72 years, with confirmed low testosterone levels.
The main findings were summarized in the March 7, 2018 in the journal Endocrine Reviews . In older men with low testosterone, one year of testosterone treatment produced the following results:
- All aspects of sexual function, in particular the potency in men, have improved.
- Viability has not improved.
- Cognitive function has not improved.
- Mood and emotional tone noticeably improved.
- The condition of patients with mild and moderate anemia has improved as the level of hemoglobin (red blood cell component) increases.
- Bone density and bone mass improved.
However, there are alarming data: the plaques in the coronary arteries increased. Men who received testosterone supplements were more likely to have an increased level of prostate antigen or PSA than men who received placebo.
A PSA blood test is used to detect early prostate cancer. However, higher PSA levels may indicate an enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hypertrophy or other noncancerous diseases. Whether testosterone eliminates an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, prostate cancer, or other conditions remains unclear.
The problem of low testosterone
Some pathologies can lead to a decrease in testosterone and related symptoms. Most often these are pituitary diseases or cancer chemotherapy, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), kidney disease. They create conditions under which the potency of men suffers, there is an inexplicable weight loss, decreased performance or weakness. With them, testosterone therapy will be helpful.