Risks and benefits of testosterone therapy in older men

Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2013 Jul;9(7):414-24. doi: 10.1038/nrendo.2013.73. Epub 2013 Apr 16.


In young men (defined as age<50 years) with classic hypogonadism caused by known diseases of the hypothalamus, pituitary or testes, testosterone replacement therapy induces a number of beneficial effects, for example, the development of secondary sex characteristics, improvement and maintenance of sexual function, and increases in skeletal muscle mass and BMD. Moreover, testosterone treatment in this patient population is associated with a low frequency of adverse events. Circulating testosterone levels decline progressively with age, starting in the second and third decade of life, owing to defects at all levels of the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis. In cohort studies, testosterone levels are associated weakly but consistently with muscle mass, strength, physical function, anaemia, BMD and bone quality, visceral adiposity, and with the risk of diabetes mellitus, coronary artery disease, falls, fractures and mortality. However, the clinical benefits and long-term risks of testosterone therapy--especially prostate-related and cardiovascular-related adverse events--have not been adequately assessed in large, randomized clinical trials involving older men (defined as age>65 years) with androgen deficiency. Therefore, a general policy of testosterone replacement in all older men with age-related decline in testosterone levels is not justified.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Assessment
  • Testosterone / adverse effects
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Testosterone / therapeutic use*


  • Testosterone