Testosterone replacement therapy: For whom, when and how?

Metabolism. 2018 Sep:86:69-78. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2018.03.007. Epub 2018 Mar 9.


The finding of low circulating testosterone level in men is relatively frequent. The symptoms of hypogonadism are very frequent in the aging men. However, the diagnosis of hypogonadism is often neglected and the opportunity to replace low testosterone in older men is highly debated. The aim of this narrative review is to summarize the steps necessary to formulate a proper diagnosis and to guide toward an individualized treatment. While universally recognized the need to treat the young adults with known causes of pituitary or testicular failure, there are controversies on the cost-benefit of treating testosterone deficiency in older men. Discrepancies among the several available guidelines do not help to clarify the scenario, however, the recent larger clinical trials have shed some light on the fact that testosterone treatment carries some benefit, that is not free from risks. We provide an updated review of the diagnostic hallmarks, the several treatment modalities, with their advantages and disadvantages, and how to individualize and monitor treatment in order to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks. The treatment of male hypogonadism can no longer be downgraded and must become part of the cultural baggage of the endocrinologist.

Keywords: Adverse effects; Late-onset hypogonadism; Primary hypogonadism; Secondary hypogonadism; Testosterone preparations; Testosterone replacement therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Endocrine
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Hypogonadism / diagnosis
  • Hypogonadism / drug therapy*
  • Hypogonadism / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Patient Selection*
  • Testosterone / deficiency
  • Testosterone / therapeutic use*
  • Time Factors
  • Time-to-Treatment


  • Testosterone