In a major new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, testosterone therapy was found to improve physical ability and mood as well as sexual function. The study was a collaboration of researchers from 12 medical centers spanning the United States.
Mark E. Molitch, MD, an endocrinologist, was one of the authors of the study. Dr. Molitch is the Martha Leland Sherwin professor in medicine-endocrinology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
“In recent years, talk about low testosterone and its treatments have become part of the public discussion,” explained Molitch. “Yet questions have always lingered about the treatment’s effectiveness and safety. I believe the results of this large, nationwide study will provide doctors and patients answers and guidance they’ve been looking for.”
The team’s purpose was to determine the link, if any, between testosterone levels and the mood, libido, and physical ability of men over the age of 65. It is a well-established fact that a man’s testosterone levels and production decrease as he ages. Many men also experience lowered sex drive and energy levels as they become older, tiring and fatiguing more easily. For the first time, low testosterone has been established as the cause of these symptoms.
Previously, the Institute for Men reported that there was insufficient evidence of testosterone therapy’s beneficial effects, if any. A grant from the National Institute on Aging and National Institutes of Health funded the new study to determine low testosterone could be the cause of what many consider the normal effects of aging.
The subjects of the study were 790 men, all of whom were over the age of 65 and tested for low blood testosterone, as well as suffering from decreased sexual desire and physical function. Some participants in the study were given testosterone treatments in the form of a gel to apply directly to the skin. The medication increased the subjects’ testosterone levels to the normal range for men aged 19-40. The treatments and study of their effects lasted for over a year.
The study participants who received the testosterone treatments did not report increased energy, but their mood, libido, and physical function did improve. By measuring the distance walked in six minutes, the researchers were able to determine a small increase in the physical abilities of men in the study. There was also a decrease in symptoms of depression, such as feelings of sadness and listlessness.
“Men in the study experienced an increased sexual desire and small improvements in their mood and physical function,” explained Molitch. “Importantly, there was no evidence of an increase in heart or other cardiovascular issues in those who received testosterone compared to a placebo. And we monitored the men in this study for at least a year after receiving treatment.”
The study is expected to lead to further research in the potential applications of testosterone therapy in treating many of the problems that come with age. By firmly showing the link between low testosterone and decreased sexual activity, mood, and physical capabilities, the door is open to developing treatments for these common ailments.
Saleamp Design April 26th, 2016
Posted In: Testosterone Therapy
Male depression is not as well understood as female hormonal depression. The effect of female sex hormones on our mood and psyche has been well-documented. Phenomena such as post-partum depression and mood swings just prior to menstruation are well-known, and there have been a number of scientific studies confirming them.
Until recently, though, the link between our mood and the male sex hormone testosterone has not been nearly as well understood. A study conducted by researchers at MedUni Vienna and published in Biological Psychiatry offers the first glimpse into how testosterone affects our mood.
In a nutshell, the study concluded that there is a direct link between testosterone levels and feelings of happiness. Testosterone also supports existing antidepressant medications, allowing them to work better.
As they age, men typically become more prone to depression. Conventional wisdom has been that the drop-off in testosterone production is to blame, but the new study is the first to show that testosterone actually increases the number of serotonin transporters in the brain.
Serotonin is the neurotransmitter, or brain chemical, most responsible for feelings of well-being and happiness. Serotonin transporters are proteins that help regulate the concentration of serotonin in our brains. By increasing their number, the overall serotonin levels in our brains also increase, contributing to our emotional well-being.
Antidepressant drugs bind to these proteins, as well. By increasing production of serotonin transporters, testosterone creates a better environment for these medications, allowing them to more effectively treat male depression.
The MedUni Vienna researchers worked with transsexuals undergoing hormone therapy in the course of their study. Georg Kranz, the study’s primary author, explained the design of the study.
“Transsexuals are people who feel that they are living in the wrong body and who therefore want high doses of opposite gender hormone therapy to adapt their appearance to that of the other gender. Genetic women are given testosterone, while genetic men are given oestradiol and medications to suppress testosterone production.”
Siegfried Kasper, head of the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at MedUni Vienna, elaborated further on their findings and results.
“The study has shown that testosterone increases the potential binding sites for commonly prescribed antidepressants such as SSRIs in the brain and therefore provides major insights into how sex hormones affect the human brain and gender differences in psychiatric illnesses.”
Employing positron emission tomography (PET), the researchers were able to measure serotonin transporter levels in the study participants. Four weeks of testosterone therapy resulted in significantly higher serotonin transporter levels. The study established a firm link between testosterone levels in the blood and serotonin transporter levels in the brain.
The study opens up potential applications for testosterone therapy in treating male depression and other emotional disorders. Testosterone improves our mood both directly and by supporting antidepressant medications, and the reverse is also true. Low levels of testosterone can lead to male depression and feelings of sadness.
Saleamp Design April 22nd, 2016
Posted In: Health & Wellness