The testosterone hormone in the human body promotes development of male sexual characteristics such as muscle bulk, bone density, sperm production etc. Some factors such as aging or certain conditions such as hypogonadism (improper functioning of testicles) can cause the production of low amounts of testosterone in the body. A decrease in the levels of this hormone may cause sleep disturbance, fragile bones, fatigue, depression, decreased body hair, growth of sexual organs and muscle mass. Testosterone therapy helps in improving the signs and symptoms of low testosterone in men.
Indications and Contraindications
Testosterone therapies are indicated to improve the level of the testosterone hormone in the body and to treat conditions such as erectile dysfunction. Testosterone therapies are not advisable if you are diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer as it may cause growth of the prostate glands.
Testosterone therapies can be given in different forms namely:
- Skin patches: A skin patch is a testosterone patch worn either on the body or the scrotum (sac which contains testicles). These patches are used on a daily basis. The body patches can be used on the arms, back or abdomen.
- Gels: testosterone gels are applied to the skin on the shoulders, upper arms or abdomen once a day. The hormone is absorbed directly through the skin.
- Mouth patch: a tablet which sticks to the upper gums above the incisor is applied twice daily and continuously releases testosterone into the blood through the oral tissues.
- Injections and implants: testosterone is injected into your muscles or is implanted in the form of pellets into the soft tissue where the body slowly absorbs the testosterone into the blood.
Risks and Complications
Some complications associated with testosterone therapies include acne and oily skin, breast enlargement, decreased testicular size, stimulation of prostate tissues, worsening of sleep disorders and fluid retention. Some laboratory abnormalities such as changes in cholesterol levels, increase in RBC or decrease in sperm count may also be associated with testosterone therapies.