Introduction. Male hypogonadism is a condition characterized by inadequate testicular production of sex steroids and sperms; however, the term is more commonly used to identify testosterone (T) deficiency. When fertility is not desired, T replacement therapy (TRT) is the gold standard.
Aim. To review the pathogenesis of male hypogonadism and the available preparations for TRT, along with the main clinical outcomes.
Methods. A systematic search of published evidence was performed using Medline (1969 to September 2010). Data from a consecutive series of subjects attending our Andrology Unit were also provided to stress the clinical correlates of low T. Inventories available for detecting hypogonadism (including ANDROTEST) were overviewed.
Main Outcome Measures. The most important studies regarding the pathogenesis of male hypogonadism and the preparations for its treatment were reviewed. To review TRT outcomes, only meta-analytic studies were considered.
Results. The goals of TRT are to alleviate clinical symptoms and to restore serum T levels to the mid-normal range, without significant side effects or safety concerns. Different T formulations have been approved. TRT is associated with a reduction of fat mass, an increase of lean mass, and a possible positive effect on lipid profile and glycometabolic control. Bone density and depressive symptoms are improved by TRT, while effects on cardiovascular risk and frailty are more controversial. No increase of prostate cancer and prostate-related problems has been reported so far. TRT, alone or in combination with phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors, is considered the first-line therapy in hypogonadal subjects with erectile dysfunction.
Conclusions. T deficiency is highly prevalent in the aging male and represents a sign of physical and sexual frailty. The significance of low T in elderly men has yet to be completely clarified. Large, prospective intervention trials will help solve this dilemma. Corona G, Rastrelli G, Forti G, and Maggi M. Update in testosterone therapy for men. J Sex Med 2011;8:639–654.