For older men with low testosterone levels, replacing the testosterone may help with weight loss as well as provide additional health benefits according to a study presented at the 19th European Congress on Obesity.
Testosterone is a naturally produced hormone in both men and women; however, women have much less than men. It is responsible for many of the sexual functions in men, including sex drive and sperm production. This hormone also plays a role in facial and pubic hair, bone and muscle size and strength and may contribute to maintaining mood.
As a man ages, testosterone levels naturally decrease. But in some men, low testosterone levels can cause a number of physical problems:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Diminished sex drive
- Reduced muscle mass
- Fatigue and lack of energy
According to the recent study, testosterone may also play a role in obesity. This study analyzed 251 men, with an average age of 61, all of who had low testosterone levels. During the study the participants received testosterone therapy. All participants were followed for 2 years and one half were followed for 5 years.
At the end of the study, those who continued to receive testosterone therapy for five years showed a number of health benefits:
- Weight loss (an average of 35 pounds)
- A drop in body mass index
- Lowered blood pressure
- Lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels
Researchers aren’t sure whether the testosterone levels were directly responsible for the weight loss. Raising testosterone levels may have increased energy levels, improved mood and improved the overall feeling of well-being in the men. Exercising more, being more active and eating better may be what contributed to the weight loss rather than the testosterone itself.
The results from this study are encouraging and may lead to better treatments for obesity in older men with low testosterone. But there are a number of cautions as well. Testosterone therapy can include side effects including:
- Increased fluid retention
- Breast enlargement
- Worsening of sleep apnea
- Decreased size of testicles and increased size of prostate
Before beginning testosterone therapy, your doctor will test your current levels. If you are found to have low testosterone, he may recommend replacement therapy. Because of the possible side effects, it is important to keep all follow-up visits and talk with your doctor if you have any discomfort or if your side effects interfere with your daily life.
"Testosterone Replacement Therapy," Date Unknown, Staff Writer, Cleveland Clinic
"Testosterone Injections May Aid Weight Loss," 2012, May 14, Staff Writer, NY Daily News
"Testosterone Treatment Helps Obese Older Males Lose Weight, Other Health Gains Too," 2012, May 9, MedicalNewsToday.com
"Testosterone - What it Does and Doesn’t Do," Date Unknown, Robert Shmerling M.D. Harvard Health Publications
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.