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."
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.