Treatment of Men for "Low Testosterone": A Systematic Review

PLoS One. 2016 Sep 21;11(9):e0162480. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0162480. eCollection 2016.

Abstract

Testosterone products are recommended by some prescribers in response to a diagnosis or presumption of "low testosterone" (low-T) for cardiovascular health, sexual function, muscle weakness or wasting, mood and behavior, and cognition. We performed a systematic review of 156 eligible randomized controlled trials in which testosterone was compared to placebo for one or more of these conditions. We included studies in bibliographic databases between January 1, 1950 and April 9, 2016, and excluded studies involving bodybuilding, contraceptive effectiveness, or treatment of any condition in women or children. Studies with multiple relevant endpoints were included in all relevant tables. Testosterone supplementation did not show consistent benefit for cardiovascular risk, sexual function, mood and behavior, or cognition. Studies that examined clinical cardiovascular endpoints have not favored testosterone therapy over placebo. Testosterone is ineffective in treating erectile dysfunction and controlled trials did not show a consistent effect on libido. Testosterone supplementation consistently increased muscle strength but did not have beneficial effects on physical function. Most studies on mood-related endpoints found no beneficial effect of testosterone treatment on personality, psychological well-being, or mood. The prescription of testosterone supplementation for low-T for cardiovascular health, sexual function, physical function, mood, or cognitive function is without support from randomized clinical trials.

Grant support

There were no funding sources for this study. Dr. Scialli is the sole participant in Scialli Consulting LLC. Scialli Consulting LLC has no employees and did not support this study with either salary or any other funding. Scialli Consulting LLC did not have any role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The specific role of this author is articulated in the ‘author contributions’ section.