Should Older Men Take Testosterone Supplements?

Rakesh Reddy

Posted on November 25 2021

Should Older Men Take Testosterone Supplements?

Table of Contents

  1. What is testosterone therapy?
  2. Why should you opt for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT)?
  3. Is TRT necessary for me if I feel any of the symptoms above?
  4. What are the side effects of TRT?
  5. Should older men take TRT?

The concentrations of sex steroidal hormones, primarily testosterone, decline progressively with age in men.

This is usually attributed to complex alterations in male physiology. However, sometimes certain lifestyle factors can also play a significant role here.

This phenomenon has been termed ‘Andropause’, the male equivalent to menopause and has received increasing attention over the years.

While there are specific markers for menopause, the symptoms of andropause are very vague and nonspecific.

However, what remains common is the steady drop of testosterone.

This is visualised in symptoms like reduced sexual function, impotence, bone breaks and even anaemia.

testosterone production by age

In such issues, an increasing number of men over the years have been leaning towards doctor-assisted testosterone therapy to externally compensate for their decreased production.

There has also been an increased interest in clinical studies that assess the clinical utility of such supplements in older men.

In this article, we will review whether a testosterone booster for men is required and whether they are beneficial or not.

What is testosterone therapy?

Testosterone therapy refers to the practice of external testosterone supplementation to restore the levels of this hormone in the body.

What is testosterone therapy?

Prescription testosterone injections and gels are some of the most common versions of this therapy (abbreviated as TRT - Testosterone Replacement Therapy).

Other forms include skin (transdermal) patches, mouth patches, or implants.

A Testosterone booster for men is aimed towards reducing some of the more aggressive physical side effects of low androgens such as:

Testosterone booster for men

  • decreased sexual function, 
  • lack of spontaneous erections,
  • decreased muscle mass,
  • male pattern balding,
  • increased body fat,
  • body and facial hair loss.

Apart from these symptomatic changes, there are also observed mindful symptoms like 

  • depression, 
  • lack of concentration, 
  • disturbed sleep cycle, 
  • reduced self-confidence,
  • reduced energy,
  • irritability, etc.

You can read some more about this here - Effects of testosterone on brain behavioral functions.

After reading about this information, you will recognize that testosterone is a major factor in maintaining the homeostasis in male physiology.

So, any decrease in the same should be externally supported, right?

Why should you opt for testosterone replacement therapy?

A Testosterone booster for men has been reported to improve their energy levels, sex drives and even the quality of erections.

It also facilitates the increase in bone density, muscle mass and even insulin sensitivity in some men.

testosterone replacement therapy

However, the observations of such improvements is highly specific to each individual.

It is impossible to predict whether you will actually see beneficial results from TRT as they vary from person to person.

Is TRT necessary for me if I feel any of the symptoms above?

Basic symptomatology is associated with aging and definitely proves that your testosterone levels are taking a hit.

A low testosterone level by itself does not qualify treatment considering even TRT has its side effects and risks.

However, not all men who exhibit the above mentioned symptomatology need to opt for testosterone boosters for men.

Only men with visual and worsening symptoms with blood levels must be enrolled into such a therapy program.

If a man's testosterone level looks below the normal range, there is a significant possibility he could end up on TRT hormone supplements — often indefinitely.

TRT hormone supplements

The aggressive marketing of most pharmaceutical companies makes you believe that taking TRT can magically change your life.

It is not true, and being "tired", as the ads ask you, does not mandate you to go for TRT.

General fatigue and tiredness are very basic symptoms and they're something probably even TRT could not fix.

Most men tend to have a minor decrease in testosterone levels as they age.

While it does account for a need for TRT, it does not mean that TRT might actually benefit you.

As per a study conducted in 2015 by scientists at Harvard Medical School on men with low or low-normal testosterone levels who were administered with testosterone, there was no significant difference observed in symptoms like sexual function or overall health in men who received testosterone.

It did not even significantly demonstrate any improvement in quality of life in comparison to the placebo group.

Another study conducted by the National Institute of Aging for men with visible testosterone level associated problems demonstrated that testosterone treatment in older men with low testosterone may offer some benefits.

However, the exact trade-off with the side effects it induces is not known.

What are the side effects of TRT?

While the benefits of testosterone therapy remain unproven, its side effects have shown a long range of diligence.

Most common side effects include rashes and itching. However, there is also an increased evidence of possible increased risk of heart attack associated with testosterone use.

The safety of this therapy has not been established as no long term clinical trials have been done yet.

side effects of TRT

Some doctors, however, have reported that TRT could aggravate few health conditions like:

  1. Benign prostatic hypertrophy - increased levels of testosterone may result in an increase in the size of the prostate. This may cause difficulty in urination.
  2. Prostate cancer - testosterone can also stimulate prostate cancer. This is one of the reasons why a screening panel of cancer markers is necessary before starting TRT. 
  3. Sleep apnea - TRT has reportedly worsened the symptoms of sleep apnea in some men.
  4. Blood clots - FDA has mandated that all TRT products carry a warning that mentions an increased risk for deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism in patients seeking TRT.
  5. Congestive heart failure - there is no evidence assessing the safety of TRT in patients with cardiovascular diseases.

While there are no studies or solid evidence about any benefits or side effects, a physician is better suited to diagnose whether you are a good candidate for TRT or not.

However, a thorough screening is recommended before one starts taking a testosterone booster for men.

Should older men take TRT?

Check if you are actually suffering from this hormone depletion significantly and then assess whether you require this hormone treatment therapy.

Hormones have a way of wreaking havoc on your bodies without much anticipation.

Get an accurate assessment from your doctor who is better suited to guide you in such cases.

There are various other options that can actually help you improve certain symptoms of aging instead of opting for TRT directly.

TRT is not a quick fix, there is no substantial proof that it will restore you to the prime of your youth.

There are many activities you can pursue that can negate your need for TRT.

Should older men take TRT?

Due to ageing, men are often at higher risk for cancers and cardiovascular diseases and TRT might just aggravate them.

Instead, you can pick up healthier regimes.

You can opt for a fitness routine that boosts your energy. Other physical problems might require medication.

Of course, you always have natural methods as opposed to a testosterone booster for men, such as:

Natural ways to boost Testosterone

Conclusion:

Bottom line, testosterone levels decrease as you age and you will have to find a way to compensate for this decrease externally.

This does not necessarily mean taking a testosterone booster for men.

Since it is a hormone replacement therapy, you are better off discussing this with your physician who is better guided to assess your candidature for the same.

IF he does decide you are, you can read more about the different types of boosters available here.

References:

  1. The Riddle of Low T in Men Over 70 | Everyday Health (no date). Available at: https://www.everydayhealth.com/low-testosterone/riddle-of-low-t-in-men-over-70.aspx 
  2. Is testosterone therapy safe? Take a breath before you take the plunge - Harvard Health (no date). Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/mens-health/is-testosterone-therapy-safe-take-a-breath-before-you-take-the-plunge
  3. Snyder, P. J. et al. (2016) ‘Effects of Testosterone Treatment in Older Men’, New England Journal of Medicine, 374(7), pp. 611–624. doi: 10.1056/NEJMOA1506119.Does Testosterone Aid Aging Men? (no date). Available at: https://www.webmd.com/men/news/20080102/does-testosterone-aid-aging-men
  4. Testosterone therapy: Potential benefits and risks as you age - Mayo Clinic (no date). Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/sexual-health/in-depth/testosterone-therapy/art-20045728 
  5. Most older men don’t need testosterone replacement, new guidelines say | Reuters (no date). Available at: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-testosterone-idUSKBN1Z525S

 

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