To review the rationale for treating symptomatic aging men whose testosterone levels are mildly reduced or low-normal with testosterone replacement therapy.
QUALITY OF EVIDENCE:
Large-scale multicentre prospective studies on the value of treating andropausal men with hormone therapy do not exist because the whole area of hormone therapy is barely 10 years old. Evidence presented is based on physiologic studies, particularly studies in which treatment has been assessed. These were largely uncontrolled open studies. Studies to date report positive responses to testosterone treatment with very few serious side effects.
Physicians should consider hypoandrogenism if male patients complain of loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, weakness, fatigue, lethargy, loss of motivation, or mood swings. Less obvious associations with reduced levels of testosterone are anemia and osteoporosis. The main cause of reduced testosterone production is primary gonadal insufficiency, but secondary causes, such as hypothalamic-pituitary disease, should be considered. Evidence shows that most men treated with testosterone will feel better about themselves and their lives.
Andropause is a term of convenience describing a complex of symptoms in aging men who have low testosterone levels. Physicians should be aware of its existence, should consider ordering tests for men who have symptoms, and should treat carefully selected patients whose serum testosterone levels are low.