Low Testosterone Treatments
The most effective and commonly used treatment for low testosterone levels is hormone replacement medications. However, these drugs should only be used after this condition has been confirmed using certain blood tests. The specific product prescribed will depend on factors such as cost, personal preference, and other medical conditions you may have. Make sure to only use testosterone products with a healthcare provider's approval and supervision.
How Is Low Testosterone Treated?The goals of treatment for low testosterone are to return testosterone to normal levels and, as a result, improve symptoms caused by this condition. In most cases, this is done with testosterone hormone replacement therapy.
When to Treat Low TestosteroneLow testosterone should be treated if (and only if) blood tests verify that levels are indeed low. There is some controversy as to whether slightly low testosterone levels that are common in older men should be treated, and whether such treatment is effective.
It is known that using testosterone to treat low testosterone symptoms in men with normal levels will not help improve the symptoms. In fact, this may actually cause dangerous side effects.
Using Medicine to Treat Low TestosteroneOnce your healthcare provider decides that you should be treated with testosterone, the next step is to determine what type of medication is best for you. Some of the factors to consider might include:
- Cost and insurance coverage
- The particular medical condition being treated (not all products are approved for every use)
- Personal preferences, such as injections versus patches
- Other treatments you have tried
- Other medical conditions you may have.
The following are the testosterone replacement medications available and approved for use in the United States:
- Androderm® (testosterone patch)
- AndroGel® (testosterone gel)
- Axiron® (testosterone topical solution)
- Delatestryl® (testosterone enanthate injection)
- Depo®-Testosterone (testosterone cypionate injection)
- Fortesta® (testosterone gel)
- Methitest® (methyltestosterone tablets)
- Striant® (testosterone buccal tablet)
- Testim® (testosterone gel)
- Testopel® (testosterone pellets)
- Testred® (methyltestosterone capsules).
All of these products are approved for use in men, and a few are also approved for use in women with certain types of late-stage breast cancer.
Side effects of these medications are quite similar, as they all contain testosterone, with one notable exception. It is thought that the oral methyltestosterone products (such as Testred and Methitest) might be more toxic to the liver, compared with other forms of testosterone replacement, and are probably less effective. As a result, methyltestosterone products are almost always avoided.
Also, differences in formulations naturally lead to some variations in side effects. For instance, the skin products can sometimes cause skin irritation, and the injectable products can sometimes cause pain and inflammation at the injection site.
Some low testosterone medications can be transferred by direct skin-to-skin contact to partners or children. This can be a problem and may lead some men to choose forms of testosterone that cannot be transferred, such as the injectable forms.
(Click Low Testosterone Medications for more detailed information.)