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The Effect of Special Operations Training on Testosterone, Lean Body Mass, and Strength and the Potential for Therapeutic Testosterone Replacement: A Review of the Literature

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Technical Report,03 Aug 2015,29 Jan 2016

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U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine Wright-Patterson AFB

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Special Operations Forces SOF are routinely exposed to physically demanding missions that result in significant changes in body composition, work capacity, and endocrine function. These changes primarily result from of an energy deficit and sleep deprivation, which are independently known to decrease levels of testosterone. The use of exogenous testosterone has been shown to increase lean body mass LBM and muscle function in healthy males and reverse cachexia in diseased populations. Therefore, the primary purpose of this review is to summarize and contrast literature in both SOF and non-military personnel on the relationships between a negative energy balance, sleep deprivation, and decreased testosterone. A secondary purpose is to summarize the effects of exogenous testosterone therapy in healthy males as well as to reverse the effects of muscle wasting diseases. A search of the literature from 1975-2015 utilizing search engines i.e., PubMed found 45 out of 70 relevant sources that directly addressed the primary or secondary purposes of this literature review. Data from these publications were summarized into tables providing mean observations. SOF raining results in decreases in testosterone -6.3 percent, LBM -4.6 percent, and strength -11.7 percent, which appear to be associated with an energy deficit -3,351 kcalday and sleep deprivation 3 hoursday. Exogenous testosterone therapy increases LBM 6.2 percent and strength 7.9-14.8 percent and reverses cachexia 2.0 percent and decreased strength 12.7 percent in those suffering from diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and human immunodeficiency virus. Therefore, the use of testosterone supplementation in SOF may attenuate changes in body composition and muscle function during SOF training or sustained operations.

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