What are the pros and cons of testosterone replacement therapy?

As we grow older, we are continuously concerned of becoming frail and losing our youthful energy. This concern is often associated with the term, “hypogonadism,” which is defined as men with levels of testosterone that are below the normal range. In a functional sense, having low testosterone can lead to changes such as decreased muscle mass, strength, bone mass, and sexual drive.1 Testosterone levels in our bodies start to decline at around the age of 30 with a percent decrease every year after that. Testosterone replacement therapy is an options for men who have low levels of testosterone to help alleviate and improve the symptoms seen with hypogonadism.3

         When discussing the pros of testosterone replacement therapy, the benefit that most of the population associate it with is increased muscle mass. Testosterone plays an important role in the maintenance and growth of our skeletal muscle. Specifically, it helps stimulate the proteins in our body to synthesize and increase the utilization of skeletal muscle to help it continue to grow. This can help result men in having a more lean body mass and a reduction in fat tissue. Along with the benefits it has on skeletal muscle, testosterone can help improve bone mass. As men age, their bone mass decreases and makes them more susceptible to bone breaks and fractures. This decline is correlated to a decrease in testosterone as well. With the help of testosterone replacement therapy, men can see an increase in muscle growth along with stronger bone mass to help prevent breaks or fractures in the future. In conjunction with these major benefits of testosterone replacement therapy, it can also help increase sexual drive, brain function, and an overall energy deficiency.1

         Although there are numerous benefits to testosterone replacement therapy, there are still concerns, along with any medical treatment, that need to be addressed and discussed to those receiving therapy. One of the major concerns with testosterone replacement therapy is the risk for developing prostate cancer. The risk of developing prostate cancer increases as men continue to age, similarly to the likelihood of developing low testosterone levels. In past years, an increase in testosterone was thought to be linked to a higher probability of developing prostate cancer, however there are numerous recent studies that show there is no correlation between testosterone replacement therapy and the increase risk of prostate cancer.2

Asthana, Sanjay et al. “Masculine Vitality: Pros and Cons of Testosterone in Treating the Andropause.” The journals of gerontology. 59.5 (2004): 461–465. Web.

Kaplan, Alan L. et al. “Testosterone Therapy in Men With Prostate Cancer.” European Urology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eururo.2015.12.005

Vance, Mary Lee. “Andropause.” Growth Hormone & IGF Research.

https://doi.org/10.1016/S1096-6374(03)00061-3

Aria Hastings

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