This Week in Sex: Testosterone, the Pope, and ‘Happy Endings’

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This Week in Sex: Testosterone, the Pope, and ‘Happy Endings’

Martha Kempner

This week, a study says testosterone replacement therapy may increase risk of cardiac issues; the pope asks Catholics across the world to weigh in on contraception, same-sex marriage, and divorce; and San Francisco lawmakers make it very clear that there is to be no sex in massage parlors.

This Week in Sex is a weekly summary of news and research related to sexual behavior, sexuality education, contraception, STIs, and more.

Testosterone Treatment May Raise Cardiac Risk

Testosterone replacement treatment may have a dangerous side effect, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers analyzed data from the Veteran’s Association medical system, looking at the history of over 8,700 veterans who underwent an angiography between 2005 and 2011 and also had low testosterone levels. They divided the men into two groups: those who used testosterone therapy after the procedure and those who did not. They found that even after adjusting for coronary artery disease, testosterone therapy was associated with a greater risk of dying from any cause, as well as a greater risk of myocardial infarction and ischemic stroke three years after angiography.

Experts say this new study should serve as a warning to men and their health-care providers. Testosterone replacement therapy is big business in part because of direct-to-consumer advertising. According to the study’s authors, there were 5.3 million prescriptions for testosterone therapy in 2011, which represents a five-fold increase from 2000, and a new-found $1.6 billion market for drug makers.

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Steven Nissen, a physician at the Cleveland Clinic who is skeptical of this new demand for testosterone, told MedPage Today that a “fall in hormone levels in both men and women is a normal part of aging; it is not necessarily a disease. Making it into a disease may end up causing more harm than good.”

The new study does have some limitations both because it was retrospective and because it relied on VA records. Veterans are known to be at higher risk for a number of health problems than the general population. More research needs to be done, but in the meantime men may want to think twice before they beg for treatment for “low T,” and health-care providers might want to think twice before they agree to write that script.

The Pope Wants to Know What Catholics Think About Sexuality and Contraception

The Vatican has sent out a survey asking national bishops’ conferences around the world 38 questions designed to determine how they and their parishioners feel about contraception, same-sex marriage, divorce, and premarital sex.

The survey is being sent out in preparation for a meeting called by Pope Francis to discuss the “Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization,” to be held in October next year.

Archbishop Bruno Forte, who will serve as the secretary for next year’s meeting, said the questionnaire is part of a “broad and deep process of listening to the life of the church and of the most pressing challenges posed to her.”

There Will Be No “Happy Endings” in San Francisco

While it may have already seemed clear that paying for sex as part of your massage services is not legal—because, you know, paying for sex is not legal—at least one member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors thought the city needed to explain it just a little better. Supervisor Katy Tang says that the existing codes are vague and hard to enforce. She authored legislation that spells out penalties, including fines and the revocations of permits, and makes it clear that business owners—not individual masseuses—are the ones who will be punished.

Tang’s law, which also requires masseuses to wear photo identification while working, passed this week. According to the San Francisco Gate, “Tang said she authored the legislation in part because a measure she helped craft four years ago as a legislative aide isn’t doing enough to stop prostitution and human trafficking.”

Whether it becomes law in the city is now up to the mayor.