Testosterone therapy drugs are mainly used for the treatment of hypogonadism, where the male sex organ is not able to produce the required amount of hormone in the body. These drugs are a replacement for Testosterone that should be naturally occurring. However, recent studies carried out on these drugs have show that many men who take these drugs have a higher risk of strokes, heart attacks or even early death.
Natural production of testosterone in the body plays a significant role in many characteristics of the male, this hormone is also responsible for the man’s mood and sex drive. Those men who have low levels of testosterone usually have a number of undesirable qualities such as low libido, depression, and fatigue. As men grow older the amount of testosterone in their body reduces, this is a natural process and testosterone drugs should not be used in these cases. The supplement is specifically approved only for those who suffer from hypogonadism or those who have low levels of testosterone which is a disorder of the testicles, pituitary gland or brain. There can also be a failure to produce testosterone in men who have a genetic disorder or there has been damage to their testicles due to chemotherapy or other infections.
During the past several years, there has been a significant growth in the testosterone product market due to the marketing campaigns that these supplement producers have been aggressively carrying out. They have generalised the symptoms of low testosterone. However, recently there has been an increase in the ill effects of the use of this supplement.
In the past 5 years, the number of men who have been prescribed the testosterone supplement has increased from 1.3 million patients in 2009 to around 2.3 million patients in 2013. Current studies show that approximately 70% of the men are now being prescribed testosterone supplements for low testosterone in the body.
Ways to Administer Testosterone
Testosterone supplements can be found in many different forms
Skin patch: this is and transdermal form of drug therapy, the ‘Androderm’ is a skin patch that has to be applied on the body once a day.
Gel form: this comes in two forms ‘AndroGel’ or ‘Testim’ they are clear gels that can be directly absorbed into the body when applied once a day.
Pump: some types such as AndroGel, Axiron, and Fortesta come in the form of pumps that delivers the exact amount of drug prescribed by the doctor.
Mouth patch: Striant is a form of a tablet that sticks to the gums above the incisor in the mouth. It is usually applied twice a day and the drug continuously releases the drug into the blood through the oral tissues.
Injections or implants: testosterone injections can be directly given in the muscle or pellets of testosterone can be implanted in the soft tissue that slowly gets absorbed directly into the blood.
Oral pills are also available; however, they have an adverse effect on the liver and hence help the drug get directly absorbed into the blood the above methods are used.
Side effects of testosterone
There are various side effects that have become common in men due to the overuse of the testosterone supplement.
- The symptoms of an enlarged prostate can be worsened
- There is a high risk of developing prostate cancer
- Sperm count is lowered
- There is significant swelling in the ankles, feet or the body
- Breasts can get enlarged and become painful
- There is a difficulty in breathing
- There is a high risk of blood clots forming in the legs
The FDA found that there can be an increase in the risk of cardiovascular diseases and strokes that has been linked with the use of the testosterone supplement. Based on these results the FDA required that manufacturers change the labels of all the testosterone products and include information about this risk on the packaging. They also further advised the individuals who were using testosterone supplements to be attentive to any symptoms that would indicate the danger of a heart attack and immediately contact you doctor in those cases.
- These symptoms include
- Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
- Chest pain
- Weakness on one side or a particular area of the body
- Slurred speech
The agency also encouraged doctors and other health care professionals to report any other side effects that are seen in men who are using this supplement.
The FDA also believes that there are certain diseases that can be worsened with the use of testosterone. A few examples of this are mentioned below
- Benign prostatic hypertrophy
- Prostate cancer
- Sleep apnea
- Blood clots
It is important that you consult your doctor and find out all the risks that are involved
with the use of this supplement on a regular basis.