Brief Drops in Testosterone Don't Hurt Healthy Men

Drug that reduced levels had little negative effect on mood, study finds

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WEDNESDAY, Oct. 6, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- There was little or no effect on the mood of healthy young men when medication was used to lower their testosterone levels for short periods, says a study in the October issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Levels of hormones, such as testosterone, decline in men as they age. This can lead to a condition called hypogonadism, characterized by decreased testicular functioning. Hypogonadism can also have negative effects on muscle mass, bone metabolism, and mood and behavior.

In this study, researchers at the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health focused on the relationship between mood and acute suppression of testosterone. The study included 31 healthy men, aged 23 to 46, who were given leuprolide acetate (a drug that lowers testosterone) every four weeks for three months.

Then, in addition to leuprolide acetate, the men received either testosterone enanthate (a testosterone replacement drug) or a placebo every two weeks for a month. The men filled out mood and behavior questionnaires and gave blood samples every two weeks during the study.

The men taking leuprolide plus a placebo had much lower blood levels of testosterone than the men taking leuprolide plus testosterone, the study found. Blood levels of testosterone were much higher while the men were taking testosterone replacement than they were before the start of the study.

Other than hot flashes, libido and feeling emotionally charged, there were no significant differences between the men taking the leuprolide plus placebo and those taking the leuporlide plus testosterone, the study said.

"Few subjects in this study developed negative mood symptoms during an otherwise dramatic albeit brief (four-week) withdrawal and replacement of testosterone under double-blind conditions," the study authors wrote.

"These data, the first to describe the effects on mood of induced hypogondism in healthy young men, suggest that short-term hypogonadism is sufficient to precipitate depressive symptoms in only a small minority of younger men. The predictors of this susceptibility remain to be determined," they concluded.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about hypogonadism.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Oct. 4, 2004

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