Low testosterone (hypogonadism) can be treated with the use of doctor-prescribed testosterone replacement therapy. This treatment is safe and can be effective for men who are diagnosed with consistently abnormal low testosterone production and symptoms that are associated with this type of androgen (hormone) deficiency.
While testosterone replacement therapy is the primary treatment option some conditions that cause hypogonadism are reversible without testosterone therapy. These should be addressed before testosterone therapy is contemplated. If testosterone therapy is needed, goal of treatment is to improve symptoms associated with testosterone deficiency and maintain sex characteristics. There are many different types of testosterone therapy. You should discuss the different options with your physician "your partner in care" to find out which therapy is right for you.
Testosterone therapy is only recommended for hypogonadism patients. Boosting testosterone is NOT approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help improve your strength, athletic performance, physical appearance, or to treat or prevent problems associated with aging. Using testosterone for these purposes may be harmful to your health.
Male hypogonadism is a combination of low testosterone levels and the presence of any of these symptoms:
You should not receive testosterone therapy if you have:
Method of treatment depends on the cause of low testosterone, the patient’s preferences, cost, tolerance, and concern about fertility.
Injections. Self or doctor administered in a muscle every 1–2 weeks; administered at a clinic every 10 weeks for longer-acting. Side effects: uncomfortable, fluctuating symptoms.
Gels/Solutions. Applied to upper arm, shoulder, inner thigh, armpit. Side effects: may transfer to others via skin contact — must wait to absorb completely into skin.
Patches. Adhere to skin every day to back, abdomen, upper arm, thigh; rotate locations to lessen skin reaction. Side effects: skin redness and rashes.
Buccal Tablets. Sticky pill applied to gums twice a day, absorbs quickly into bloodstream through gums. Side effects: gum irritation.
Pellets. Implanted under skin surgically every 3–6 months for consistent and long-term dosages. Side effects: pellet coming out through skin, site infection/ bleeding (rare), dose decreasing over time and hypogonadism symptoms possibly returning towards the end of dose period.
Nasal Gel. Applied by pump into each nostril 3x a day. Side effects: nasal irritation or congestion.
There is no firm scientific evidence that long-term testosterone replacement is associated with either prostate cancer or cardiovascular events. The FDA requires that you are made aware that the possibility of cardiovascular events may exist during treatment. Prostate cells are stimulated by testosterone, so be extra vigilant about cancer screenings. African American men over age 45 — especially those with family history of cancer — are already at risk for prostate cancer.
Hypogonadism is a common condition in the male population, with a higher prevalence in older men, obese men, and men with type 2 diabetes. If you are concerned about your testosterone levels It is important to talk to doctor about ways to manage.