Study testosterone may not treat Erectile Dysfunction

November 12, 2012

Study testosterone may not treat Erectile Dysfunction

Testosterone Supplements May Not work for Erectile Dysfunction and could be Risky

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Orlando, Florida was presented with findings from a report which has found that testosterone does not help men with erectile dysfunction.

The study investigated a group of men, all 60 or older. The men had been diagnosed as having low or borderline levels of testosterone. They were split into two groups. The results found that those receiving testosterone replacement therapy had no improvement in their condition when compared to the placebo group. The ability to realize and sustain an erection remained the same in both groups.

The study ran for a year and during that time no improvement was seen in the sexual function of the men using conventional testosterone gel compared to the control group who used a placebo gel. Study researcher Lauren W. Roth, MD, is an obstetrician/gynecologist at the University of Colorado in Denver and she says, “It appears that testosterone supplementation will not improve ED, though it may have other benefits on sexual function that were not evaluated with this data”.

Testosterone therapy is becoming more popular now because many men believe in the powers it may have to assist sexual function, boost sex drive and enhance energy levels. Some others think that testosterone therapy can also increase muscle mass and sharpen the brain and enhance mental ability. Others insist that it makes them look younger.

Yet experts are warning that too much testosterone is harmful. Rebecca Sokol, MD is a professor of medicine and obstetrics and gynecology at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and she is very blunt in her appraisal when she says, “I am quite concerned about the rampant use of testosterone replacement therapy for very soft indications. It is very much a buyer beware situation”. She also points out that whoever uses testosterone should be properly vetted and examined beforehand to ensure that the need is genuine.

Testosterone Supplements and Cancer

The reason why Sokol takes such a firm line is because academics and health professionals are aware that using testosterone increases the chance of developing certain conditions. Although she is also aware of the limitations of the research already carried out and knows that more work must be done. Yet she says, “This hormone may cause the prostate gland to increase in size, and there is also the theoretic risk that we can stimulate the growth of cancer cells in the prostate. We have been looking carefully to see if testosterone initiates prostate cancer and there is no data to indicate that it does at this point.”

She also says that perhaps testosterone increases the level of LDL “bad” cholesterol in the body while decreasing levels of HDL “good” cholesterol.

Because of all of these issues men who wish to start taking testosterone should think very seriously first. Talking things over with your doctor should also be a requirement. Sokol believes that the doctor should be an expert in male reproduction and hormones and “The indication for treatment needs to be very clear and verified by evaluation and physical exam”.

Testosterone Levels and Treatments

Joseph P. Alukal, MD is an assistant professor of urology and the director of male reproductive health at New York University’s Langone Medical Center in New York City and he acknowledges that the problem is heightened by men getting advice from friends or the internet. He says that these non expert sources are also supplying the testosterone too. He also accepts that testosterone supplements do have a function when treating men with erectile dysfunction who have low levels of the hormone. He says, “Testosterone is one of the treatments we have, but it’s not the only one”.

He tells of the need to find if the testosterone levels are low. This test should be repeated to ensure accuracy of the reading. Only then, if levels are low, and following an examination to ensure that there are no other health issues that may be to blame for the sexual functioning problem, should testosterone replacement therapy be considered as an option, according to Alukal.

Medical professionals know that erectile dysfunction can be an early indicator for heart problems so an early visit to a cardiologist may be on the cards.

Alukal says “Hormones are powerful. They have tremendous benefits and significant risks, so to go on them requires proper monitoring by a physician who understands their risks and benefits and knows how to monitor men”. He also says that if you are on testosterone then your doctor must check your prostrate gland regularly.

He finishes with a word of warning when he says, “We know that there is some relationship between testosterone and the growth of the prostate and the development of prostate cancer, but we don’t fully understand the relationship”.

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