What Are The Risks Of Taking Testosterone?

Testosterone is the male dominating hormone and the low level of testosterone develops a condition known as hypogonadism. There are two types of hypogonadism. The gonads in male, testes, are responsible for the synthesis and release of testosterone. If there is any abnormality in the testes, then the condition is termed as primary hypogonadism. The testes produce the hormone when it is stimulated by the hormones release by the pituitary. Any problem in the pituitary develops the condition called secondary hypogonadism. The best approach for the treatment of low levels of testosterone is the testosterone replacement therapy, but there are certain risks associated while administering testosterone.

What Are The Risks Of Taking Testosterone?

There are various risks associated while taking the testosterone for the treatment of hypogonadism. The patients undergoing testosterone treatment have higher risk of the occurrence of certain disease as compared to those which are not on testosterone replacement therapy. Following are the risk factors associated with testosterone therapy:

Prostate Abnormalities: The patient undergoing testosterone therapy may experience certain prostate abnormalities including stimulation of the prostate tissue and increased urination. The testosterone replacement therapy should be cautiously given to those patients who have high risk of developing prostate cancer.

Increased Risk Of Thrombus Formation: The patient is also at the risk of increased blood clots. The patient undergoing testosterone treatment should be frequently monitored to assess the risk of blood clot formation so as to avoid any life threatening condition.

Cardiac Abnormalities: Testosterone supplementation is associated with the high risk of cardiac abnormalities including heart attack. Further, risk of occurrence of stroke is slow high in such patients.

Changes In Lipid Profile: The patient may experience changes in their cholesterol levels and lipid profile.

Polycythemia: Testosterone may cause polycythemia. Polycythemia may result in myocardial infarction and deep vein thrombosis which may result in life threatening condition.

Reasons For Low Testosterone Levels

Various reasons can be outlined for the low testosterone levels. Recent studies have suggested that hereditary also plays an important role in the low testosterone level due to the involvement of certain genes. Following are the general reasons for lowering of testosterone levels:

Hormonal Disorders: Hormonal disorders play a major role in reducing the concentration of testosterone. Hormones are responsible for maintaining the concentration of testosterone as they trigger the release from the testes.

Age: As the age of a person increases, the level of testosterone reduces. As the age increases, apart from reduced activity of the Leydig cells, which produces testosterone, the level of sex hormone binding globulin increases with age and bind the free testosterone.

Testicular Cancer And Therapy: Testes are the organ responsible for the production of testosterone. Cancer may destroy the testosterone producing cells in the testes leading to reduced or complete halt of testosterone production. Further, the chemotherapy and radiotherapy implemented for the management of such cancer also kills the testosterone producing cells.

Injury: Any injury to the testes reduces the production of testosterone.

Infection: Various infections in the body results in the generation of large quantity of free radicals and also produces inflammatory mediators. This increases the oxidative stress which produces a negative effect on the production and secretion of testosterone.

Drugs: Certain drugs also reduce the production of testosterone by negatively impacting the Leydig cells of testes. However, the level of testosterone increases after removal of such drugs from the treatment regimens.

Disorders: Various disorders such as Klinefelter syndrome, Kallmann syndrome, myotonic dystrophy and vanishing testicle syndrome also leads to the condition called hypogonadism which is characterized by low testosterone content.

Idiopathic: Sometime the exact reason of the low testosterone levels is not identified.


Testosterone therapy is the best therapy in the treatment of lower testosterone levels. But as with other drugs, testosterone also has certain effects which increase the risk of various diseases in the patient. The risk includes heart attack, stroke, myocardial infarction, polycythemia, changes in the lipid profile and increased risk of thrombus formation. The physician should properly monitor the patient’s vital signs while advising such treatments.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 19, 2018

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