Very little research exists demonstrating that testosterone therapy is effective for treating sexual dysfunction in men, say Mayo Clinic researchers. In articles published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the physicians involved called for more large trials to be conducted to help doctors and patients make informed decisions about testosterone therapy.
The new meta-studies reviewed past randomized trials to assess the effect of testosterone on sexual dysfunction and cardiovascular events. The Mayo researchers determined that no strong evidence exists showing testosterone doesn't cause cardiovascular harm and results regarding its impact on sexual dysfunction are inconsistent. "We found that the evidence for whether men are better off being treated with testosterone is much weaker than the evidence for giving estrogen to post-menopausal women was before the big estrogen trials came out," said Mayo's Dr. Victor M. Montori.
Montori adds that despite the fact that the evidence supporting testosterone's effectiveness is weak, drug companies have successfully driven its sale and physicians may be prescribing testosterone to otherwise healthy men who report vague dissatisfactions like poor quality of life, limited sex drive and fatigue.
"One of the initial surprises is how limited the research evidence is regarding whether testosterone is an effective treatment for sexual dysfunction while being safe from the cardiovascular disease standpoint," said Montori. "There is no way for physicians to be certain when prescribing testosterone that, on average, it's doing more good than harm."
He added that men would be "thoroughly shocked" to discover the limited evidence supporting the drug's effectiveness in treating sexual dysfunction. "Researchers should conduct trials measuring the outcomes of testosterone treatment that are important to patients in order to avoid repeating the estrogen disaster," he concluded.
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Based on material from the Mayo Clinic