Testosterone Therapy Boosts Sex Drive in Older Men

Testosterone Therapy Boosts Sex Drive in Older Men
Sexual dysfunction can be depressing for men as they age, but a new study offers hope. Photo courtesy Flickr.com/Tomasz Pietek.

As men age, they may find their sex drive slowing down, and erectile dysfunction may become a persistent problem. A recent study offers hope, as researchers reveal testosterone therapy can improve sex drive, helping restore older men to a more satisfying love life.

The study comes from Glenn R. Cunningham, MD, of Baylor College of Medicine and Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in Houston, Texas, along with other researchers. With support from the National Institutes of Health, the researchers published their findings in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism from the Endocrine Society. Since lack of sex drive and erectile dysfunction in older men can be related to waning testosterone levels as they age, the researchers set out to determine if treating men with testosterone could resolve some of these sexual issues.

For their study, the researchers recruited 470 men over the age of 65 from twelve medical centers in the United States. These men all had low libido, low testosterone hormone levels, and a willing sexual partner. For one year, some of the men applied a prescription testosterone gel to their skin while some of the men used a placebo, without knowing which. The researchers evaluated the men every three months with questionnaires indicating their sexual function, the presence of erectile dysfunction, and the state of their mental health.

When the researchers analyzed the results, they discovered that the men who used a testosterone gel experienced significantly improved sexual activity compared to the men using a placebo, who noticed little change over the course of a year. This increased sexual activity included more frequent sexual intercourse, masturbation, and nighttime erections for the men using testosterone gel, along with more flirting and looking forward to sex. As testosterone and estradiol hormone levels increased, sexual activity and desire improved. This seems to indicate testosterone therapy can help boost sex drive in older men, helping them experience a more active sex life.

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As encouraging as the results are for older men experiencing sexual health issues, the researchers did discover some limitations. The researchers discovered that the testosterone gel therapy improved other areas of sexual function but it did not improve erectile dysfunction. If the men were having trouble achieving an erection, they could improve their sexual desire but would still need to rely on other complementary therapies, such the erectile dysfunction drugs Viagra and Cialis.

The authors point out that although the testosterone drugs can help men with low testosterone restore their sex life, these drugs may not be everyone. The testosterone treatments did not seem to improve sexual health for men who had initial testosterone levels on the lower side of normal. If someone has close to normal testosterone levels and is looking for a boost in performance, more testosterone will not turn them into a red hot lover. However, if a man is experiencing a drop in sex drive and erectile dysfunction, his doctor should likely evaluate his testosterone level to see if testosterone therapy can help.

Testosterone is a male sex hormone, an androgen, that drives sperm production, erectile function, and sex drive along with other bodily functions. As men get older, their testosterone levels may drop substantially, similar to women going through menopause. Doctors define androgen deficiency, also known as hypoandrogenism or low T, as consistently low testosterone levels that result in sexual dysfunction. Symptoms of this so-called male menopause include depression, low energy, lack of motivation, memory loss, decreasing muscle mass and strength, hair loss, loss of libido and sexual desire, low quality orgasms, erectile difficulty, lower semen volume, hot flashes, sweating, insomnia, abdominal obesity, and poor self-esteem. Most men begin to experience a decline in androgen hormone in their thirties or forties, but by the age of sixty, ten percent of men will experience low testosterone.

With growing awareness of low testosterone, more men are turning to testosterone therapy to improve their sex drive and other symptoms as they age. The number of men undergoing testosterone therapy has almost quadrupled since the year 2000 in the United States. Now these men can feel confident that this testosterone supplementation is helping improve their sex life. Maybe Grace and Frankie should look into testosterone to go with their Cialis?

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