Friday, February 19, 2016

Testosterone Treatment Improves Sexual Activity, Physical Function and Mood in Men Over 65

Testosterone shots improve sexual activity in men over 65
Newswise, February 19, 2016 – As men age, their testosterone levels decrease, but prior studies of the effects of administering testosterone to older men have been inconclusive.

Now, a new study shows testosterone treatment for men age 65 and older improves sexual function, walking ability and mood, according to findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine by a team of researchers from 12 medical centers, including Cora E. Lewis, M.D., of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The Testosterone Trials, or TTrials, are a coordinated group of seven trials, and researchers have analyzed the results of the first three — sexual function, physical function and vitality. They found that testosterone treatment increased the blood testosterone level in the study subjects to the mid-normal range for younger men.

Testosterone treatment led to modest improvements in all aspects of sexual function, including sexual activity, sexual desire and the ability to get an erection. It also resulted in small improvements in indexes of mood and depression and some but not all measures of physical function. Treatment did not improve overall energy level.

With 51,085 men screened and 790 who qualified, the TTrials are now the largest trials to examine the efficacy of testosterone treatment in men 65 and older whose testosterone levels are low due seemingly to age alone.

Lewis, a professor in the UAB Division of Preventive Medicine and co-author on the testosterone study, says this new research fills a prominent gap in the evidence for the possible benefits of testosterone in men in this age group, a gap identified by a 2003 report from the Institute of Medicine. Additional evidence will come from the studies in other trials on cognitive function, bone health, cardiovascular disease and anemia.

“We now have some evidence on the specific symptoms that seem to respond, or don’t respond, to testosterone therapy in men 65 years old and over,” Lewis said. “However, there are still big questions about overall benefits and risks. The negative effects of testosterone treatment are still unclear.”

Across the three trials, adverse events including heart attack, stroke and prostate problems were similar in men who received testosterone and men who received placebo. So, while the TTrials did not find harmful effects, Lewis says a larger and longer clinical trial comparing testosterone therapy to placebo to definitively assess the risks is needed.

Lewis says men considering testosterone treatment should consult their doctor.

“Men should discuss their symptoms and their health history with their doctor since testosterone treatment seems to affect some symptoms and not others,” she said. “Men should have their testosterone levels checked to be sure they have low testosterone.”

She also adds that it is important to have levels checked in the morning since testosterone levels naturally change over the course of a day.

The TTrials were supported by a grant from the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health and funding from other institutes of the NIH. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Anonymous Browsing Hinders Online Dating Signals

Online Dating Signals and Social Norms in Online Dating Signals
Newswise, February 10, 2016 — Big data and the growing popularity of online dating sites may be reshaping a fundamental human activity: finding a mate, or at least a date. Yet a new study in Management Science finds that certain longstanding social norms persist, even online.

In a large-scale experiment conducted through a major North American online dating website, a team of management scholars from Canada, the U.S. and Taiwan examined the impact of a premium feature: anonymous browsing. 

Out of 100,000 randomly selected new users, 50,000 were given free access to the feature for a month, enabling them to view profiles of other users without leaving telltale digital traces.

The researchers expected the anonymity feature to lower social inhibitions -- and apparently it did. Compared to the control group, users with anonymous browsing viewed more profiles. They were also more likely to check out potential same-sex and interracial matches.

Surprisingly, however, users who browsed anonymously also wound up with fewer matches (defined as a sequence of at least three messages exchanged between users) than their non-anonymous counterparts. 

This was especially true for female users: those with anonymous browsing wound up with an average of 14% fewer matches. Why?

Women don’t like to send personal messages to initiate contact, explains Jui Ramaprasad, an assistant professor of information systems at McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management. 

In other words, she says, “We still see that women don’t make the first move.” Instead, they tend to send what the researchers call a “weak signal.”

“Weak signaling is the ability to visit, or ‘check out,’ a potential mate’s profile so the potential mate knows the focal user visited,” according to the study. 

“The offline ‘flirting’ equivalents, at best, would be a suggestive look or a preening bodily gesture such as a hair toss to one side or an over-the-shoulder glance, each subject to myriad interpretations and possible misinterpretations contingent on the perceptiveness of the players involved. 

"Much less ambiguity exists in the online environment if the focal user views another user’s profile and leaves a visible train in his ‘Recent Visitors’ list.”

Men often take the cue. “Men send four times the number of messages that women do,” says co-author Akhmed Umyarov, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. “So the anonymity feature doesn’t change things so much for men.”

Implications beyond online dating

Experiments of this sort could be used in a range of online-matching platforms to help understand how to improve the consumer experience – though it’s important that the experiments be done ethically, the researchers say.

“Even though people are willing to pay to become anonymous in online dating sites, we find that the feature is detrimental to the average users,” says Professor Ravi Bapna, co-author and the Carlson Chair in Business Analytics and Information Systems at Minnesota. 

”Professional social networks, such as LinkedIn, also offer different levels of anonymity, but user behavior and the underlying psychology in these settings is very different from that of romantic social networks.”
As with many academic research projects, the idea for this experiment stemmed partly from serendipity.
“I happened to know a senior guy at an online dating site,” Ramaprasad explains. 

“Since he knew that I studied online behavior, he suggested, ‘Why don’t you study this?’” The site, referred to in the study by the fictitious name of, is one of the largest online dating websites in North America.

The study could lay the groundwork for further academic analysis of online dating sites. 

“We expect future research to examine in more depth the issue of match quality and long-term outcomes as they relate to marriage, happiness, long-term relationships, and divorce,” the researchers conclude.

“One-Way Mirrors and Weak-Signaling in Online Dating: A Randomized Field Experiment,” Ravi Bapna, Jui Ramaprasad, Galit Shmueli, Akhmed Umyarov. Management Science, published online Feb. 2, 2016.

UF/IFAS Researcher Says Some People Are Single on Valentine’s Day and Just Fine with It

 There are ways to short-circuit the “mind traps” that often accompany a day set aside for couples

Newswise, February 10, 2016--- With the most hyped romantic day of the year fast approaching, some people who are single are perfectly happy that way – and not buying into the all the ads, stuffed animals, candies or cards.

Assistant Professor Victor Harris, an Extension specialist with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, said there are ways to short-circuit the “mind traps” that often accompany a day set aside for couples.

“Many people feel like Valentine's Day is manufactured and that the need to ‘have to be involved in a romantic relationship’ is imposed upon them by the media and the holiday's specific expectations,” Harris said. 

“Exposing the hype associated with these expectations and reframing the expectations into expectations that are more realistic are two ways to make it okay to simply ignore the holiday or enjoy it with friends, or choose do something you enjoy, such as working out or reading a good book, without the associated potential for anxiety or guilt.”

Harris said people can avoid the mind traps that can keep them from enjoying Valentine's Day. Recognizing these traps is the first step to short-circuiting them. 

They include:
• All-or-nothing thinking: You see things in black-or-white. If a situation is anything less than perfect, you see it as a total failure;
• Overgeneralization: You see a single event as a never-ending pattern of defeat by using the words always or never when you think about it;
• Jumping to conclusions: You interpret things negatively when there are no facts to support your conclusions;
• Emotional reasoning: You assume that your negative emotions reflect the way things really are: “I feel guilty [because I don't have a date for Valentine's Day]. I must be a rotten person.”;
• “Should” statements: You tell yourself that things ‘should’ be the way you hoped or expected them to be.

Harris cites the popular line, “you complete me,” from the Tom Cruise movie “Jerry Maguire.”

“This expectation is unrealistic because the key to healthy relationships is to first learn how to meet your own needs so you can then help someone else learn how to meet their needs,” Harris said. “Two people getting together in a relationship, who don't know how to meet their own needs, is a sure-fire recipe for failure.”

Harris said research in the work, “Developing a healthy self-image,” identified eight categories of needs that we can work on to enjoy and value ourselves before we get involved with someone else in a relationship, including:
• Feel safe and secure;
• Develop a positive self-concept;
• Feel worthwhile (i.e., good self-esteem);
• Receive the respect of self and others;
• Develop close real-love relationships;
• Feel like we belong;
• Feel competent;
• And experience growth.

“Once you learn to take care of and nurture yourself, only then can you be in a healthy, positive relationship,” he said. “And it is perfectly fine to be by yourself on Valentine’s Day – or any day of the year.”