Objective: To conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials to measure the effect of testosterone use on sexual function in men with sexual dysfunction and varying testosterone levels.
Methods: Librarian-designed search strategies were used to search the MEDLINE (1966 to October 2004), EMBASE (1988 to October 2004), and Cochrane CENTRAL (inception to October 2004) databases. The MEDLINE search was rerun in March 2005. We also reviewed reference lists from included studies and content expert files. We selected randomized placebo-controlled trials of testosterone vs placebo that enrolled men with sexual dysfunction and measured satisfaction with erectile function and libido and overall sexual satisfaction.
Results: We included 17 trials (N = 862 participants) in this review. Trials that enrolled participants with low testosterone levels showed (1) a moderate nonsignificant and inconsistent effect of testosterone use on satisfaction with erectile function (random-effects pooled effect size, 0.80; 95% confidence interval [CI], -0.10 to 1.60), (2) a large effect on libido (pooled effect size, 1.31; 95% CI, 0.40 to 2.25), and (3) no significant effect on overall sexual satisfaction. Trials that enrolled patients with low-normal and normal testosterone levels at baseline showed testosterone that caused (1) a small effect on satisfaction with erectile function (pooled effect size, 0.34; 95% CI, 0.03 to 0.65), (2) moderate nonsignificant effect on libido (pooled effect size, 0.41; 95% CI, -0.01 to 0.83), and (3) no significant effect on overall sexual satisfaction.
Conclusion: Testosterone use in men is associated with small improvements in satisfaction with erectile function and moderate improvements in libido. Unexplained inconsistent results across trials, wide CIs, and possible reporting bias weaken these inferences.