Many men, beginning at age 30 suffer from low levels of hormones, specifically testosterone. It is the male hormone, testosterone, that often times is used in hormone replacement therapy and treatments. During these procedures, the androgenic steroid, typically synthetically produced variants of the naturally occurring male sex hormone testosterone, are administered.
Testosterone is responsible for the development and maintenance of secondary sexual characteristics found in men, such as the increase in muscle mass, an increase in bone density, and growth of hair on the face, chest and other parts of the body. It also allows the sex organs to mature.
The testosterone hormone is synthesized from cholesterol molecules and is secreted by the testicles in males. It binds to the androgen receptor present on the surface of cells. These receptors activate the synthesis of protein and tissue. When hypogonadism or andropause begins, these male hormones are produced at a lower rate. Over time, this causes symptoms such as a decrease in in libido and sexual desire, muscle mass, osteoporosis, an increase in fat, loss of memory, anemia, insomnia, and difficulty concentrating.
How Hormonal Therapy Impacts Sexual Function
Evidence suggests that hormonal therapy can reverse the physiological, mental and emotional effects caused by low testosterone levels in most men, all of which can play a role in decreased sexual performance.
In the longitudinal study conducted by RC Rosen, and other specialists, findings revealed that patients taking hormone therapy experienced improvements in quality of life. These results were sustained in patients who were treated over a period of 36 months.
While increased sexual function and libido were among the outcomes of long-term treatment, whether this treatment also aids in erectile dysfunction may vary from one individual to the next. In one study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, evidence found that testosterone replacement therapy might have sexual benefits for older men.
The Health Risks of Hormonal Therapy for Men
Hormonal therapy has its benefits, however, like anything else, it also has risks. Testosterone replacement therapy include testosterone which is biosynthesized in a laboratory and used as a hormonal replacement therapy using various methods, i.a. in the form of an injection. The side effects of this medication can include a variety of factors ranging from mild symptoms such as behavioral changes, acne, swelling, breast enlargement in men, and sleep apnea, to more severe symptoms such as toxicity to the liver, growth of existing cancer of the prostate, shrinking of the testicles that limits sperm production, and the forming blood clots in a deep veins.
Weighing the Benefits and Risks of Long Term Hormonal Therapy
In a clinical research study, the benefits and risks of testosterone replacement therapy was reviewed and analyzed. Researchers found that hormonal therapy may increase libido, sex drive, muscle mass, bone density in men, cognition and improve mood. They also found that the above risks may also be present. While it is clear, that the long-term benefits for men on hormonal therapy can be great, for some men, the risks may not be worth an increased libido and heightened sexual function.