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Men With Low Testosterone Not Receiving Treatment

Study finds patients with deficiency more likely to be poorer and without insurance

TUESDAY, May 27 (HealthDay News) -- Many men with low testosterone levels don't receive treatment, even though they have access to care, according to a U.S. study.

The study, which received funding from drug maker GlaxoSmithKline, was published in the May 26 issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

The research involved 97 Boston-area men with the low testosterone, also known as androgen deficiency. Only 11 were prescribed treatment. Treatments included: testosterone gel (one patient); testosterone patch (three patients); testosterone cream (one patient); an injectable form of testosterone called testosterone cypionate (one patient); and unspecified formulations of testosterone (five patients).

"All of the unspecified forms of testosterone used were self-reported as administered in intervals defined in weeks, which suggests that these were injectable formulations," wrote Susan A. Hall, of New England Research Institutes in Watertown, Mass., and colleagues.

Men with untreated androgen deficiency were most likely to have low socioeconomic status, no health insurance and to rely on an emergency department or hospital outpatient clinic for primary care, the study authors said.

They also found that all men with androgen deficiency (treated and untreated) were more likely than men without the condition to report receiving regular care and visiting their doctor more often -- 15.1 visits per year for those with untreated androgen deficiency, 12 visits for those with treated androgen deficiency, and 6.7 visits for those without the condition.

"Under our assumptions, a large majority (87.8 percent) of 97 men ... with androgen deficiency were not receiving treatment despite adequate access to care. The reasons for this are unknown but could be due to unrecognized androgen deficiency or unwillingness to prescribe testosterone therapy," the study authors wrote.

Symptoms of androgen deficiency include low libido, erectile dysfunction, osteoporosis, sleep disturbance, depressed mood and tiredness.

More information

The Hormone Foundation has more about low testosterone.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, May 26, 2008

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