As already indicated previously, testosterone levels, particularly bioavailable testosterone, fall with advancing age. This decline in testosterone availability may start to occur early in the forth decade but it usually becomes clinically manifest in the 50s and 60s. Although there is continuing debate about the best way to diagnose hypogonadism in the aging male, there appears to be a general consensus that symptomatic men with reduced levels of testosterone should be given a trial of testosterone therapy if there is no contraindication to do so (Bain et al 2007).
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In addition to its role as a natural hormone, testosterone is used as a medication, for instance in the treatment of low testosterone levels in men and breast cancer in women. Since testosterone levels decrease as men age, testosterone is sometimes used in older men to counteract this deficiency. It is also used illicitly to enhance physique and performance, for instance in athletes.
Dobs and colleagues found that men with an increased body mass index had both reduced testosterone and reduced high density lipoprotein (HDL) levels. Treatment with testosterone increased the levels of HDL (Dobs et al 2001). Rising levels of HDL are not a consistent finding with TRT. More often, however, one finds reduced total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglyceride levels with TRT (Zgliczynski et al 1996; Whitsel et al 2001).
Another recent development is the production of adhesive tablets which are applied twice daily to the buccal mucosa on the gum above the incisor teeth. The tablets gradually release testosterone into the systemic venous circulation and steady state physiological concentrations are achieved in most patients within two days (Ross et al 2004). Some patients do not like the feeling of the tablet in the mouth or find that there is an abnormal taste in the mouth, but local adverse effects are usually mild and transient (Wang, Swerdloff et al 2004).
This paper will aim to review the current evidence of clinical effects of testosterone treatment within an aging male population. As with any other clinical intervention a decision to treat patients with testosterone requires a balance of risk versus benefit. We shall try to facilitate this by examining the effects of testosterone on the various symptoms and organs involved.
The bones and the brain are two important tissues in humans where the primary effect of testosterone is by way of aromatization to estradiol. In the bones, estradiol accelerates ossification of cartilage into bone, leading to closure of the epiphyses and conclusion of growth. In the central nervous system, testosterone is aromatized to estradiol. Estradiol rather than testosterone serves as the most important feedback signal to the hypothalamus (especially affecting LH secretion). In many mammals, prenatal or perinatal "masculinization" of the sexually dimorphic areas of the brain by estradiol derived from testosterone programs later male sexual behavior.
Sharma, R., Oni, O. A., Gupta, K., Chen, G., Sharma, M., Dawn, B., … & Barua, R. S. (2015, August 6). Normalization of testosterone level is associated with reduced incidence of myocardial infarction. European Heart Journal, 36(40), 2706-2715. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/eurheartj/article/36/40/2706/2293361/Normalization-of-testosterone-level-is-associated