Background. The androgenic hormones are important determinants of sexual behaviour in men. Testosterone replacement is important treatment for pituitary disease to maintain normal functioning. Although the physical effects of testosterone replacement have been well documented, little is known about the effects on relationships, particularly from the point of view of the sexual partners of men receiving testosterone replacement.
Aims. This paper reports a study exploring the perceptions of testosterone replacement on well-being and sexual functioning.
Methods. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with five men receiving testosterone implants (recipients), their permanent partners, and five recipients without partners. Recipient serum testosterone concentration was measured at 0, 1 and 4 months after testosterone implantation.
Results. The three groups reported similar effects of testosterone on well-being and sexual functioning. Recipient and partner ratings were also similar. Strength was less affected by decreasing testosterone concentration than energy in men with partners, but both strength and energy declined in men without partners. Decreased testosterone levels had a statistically significantly different effect on libido at time zero between men with and without partners (P < 0·015) and on ability to sustain an erection, but the ability to achieve an erection persisted over the 6 months in both male groups. Intercourse frequency increased from once per week at time 0 to ≥3 per week between 1 and 4 months after implant in men with partners. There were important effects of testosterone deficiency on general and sexual relationships, and these differed between men with partners and those without.
Conclusions. Testosterone has important physical and psychological benefits that may be related to the age at which testosterone replacement commences and the indications for its use. The small sample size may limit the ability to generalize the findings outside the study.