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Thinking With Testosterone

How's your memory? Although most of us can accept a few glitches in memory as we get older, the thought of losing significant cognitive ability is terrifying. How can we enjoy the wisdom of age if we can't remember it?

It has been previously observed that cognitive function in men declined in parallel with falling prostate levels, so it has been presumed that testosterone supplementation would boost cognitive function in general for aging men. The effectiveness of testosterone as an intervention has been studied in animals, but not previously in humans. 

A study due to be published this month describes an experiment in which 44 men were studied, half the group receiving testosterone for six months, then one month off, then another six months with placebo. The other half of the group received the same treatment, in reverse order. Both groups showed a modest but significant improvement in scores for both cognition and mood. (The results coincide well with a general understanding that depression often corresponds well with cognitive impairment, and improvement in cognition may be accompanied by a boost in mood, without addressing the depression separately.)

What I liked best was that the benefit was sustained after the treatment period. What I want to know is what dosing of testosterone they used. The study should be fully published later this month, I'm hoping it's open access.

For now I will continue to recommend optimizing testosterone and estradiol (estrogen) levels in both men and women to support optimum function with aging.

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