What Are The Side Effects Of Taking Testosterone?

Testosterone is an important male dominating hormone, both from a physical as well as psychological point of view. The most optimal treatment for lower testosterone is the testosterone replacement therapy. Certain side effects are associated with this therapy some of which may be life threatening.

What Are The Side Effects Of Taking Testosterone?

Although the best treatment for the management of male hypogonadism is to supplement with the testosterone, but there are various side effects which are caused by testosterone replacement therapy. Some of the side effects are life-threatening and thus should be properly and frequently monitored by the healthcare professional. Following are the side effects due to testosterone supplementation:

Fluid Retention: Fluid retention or edema is one of the known side effects of testosterone. However, the degree of retention is generally mild, but the testosterone should be cautiously prescribed to the patients with kidney abnormalities such as chronic kidney disease.

Polycythemia: Polycythemia is defined as the increased hematocrit value and increase in the volume of red blood cells. This condition may lead to vascular diseases such as myocardial infarction and deep vein thrombosis.

Thrombus Formation: Testosterone also increases the risk of thrombus formation. As it increases the concentration of red blood cells, the risk of clotting increases which may sometimes lad to fatal consequences. Thus, the patients should be monitored carefully.

Acne Or Oily Skin: The testosterone replacement therapy increases the production of acne. This is due to the conversion of some of the supplemented testosterone to DHT or estrogen. Further, high concentration of testosterone in the body stimulates the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum. This may lead to acne.

Prostate Abnormalities: Testosterone replacement is also related to the prostate abnormalities. Further, it also increases the risk of cancer in the patients who already have high risk of prostate cancer. It stimulates the tissues and increases the frequency of urination. It is not prescribed in man with u treated prostate cancer.

Cardiac Complications: Testosterone therapy also increases the risk of cardiac complications such as cardiac arrest and stroke. Increased risk of clot formation also increases the risk of heart attack and care should be taken in cardiac patients while prescribing these medications.

Changes In Breast And Testes: The testosterone therapy also changes the structure of breast and testes in males. The size of the testes is reduced while the breast becomes large and tender. Testosterone is contraindicated in males with u treated breast cancer.

Psychological Effects: The therapy with testosterone also leads to various psychological effects such as insomnia, depression, aggression and mood swings.
Testosterone Withdrawal Symptoms: After the testosterone therapy is over, various withdrawal symptoms occurs after stopping the treatment. These symptoms include anxiety, depression, muscle loss, low libido and mood swings. Thus, in order to reduce the effect of withdrawal, the dose should be tapered down prior to a complete stop.

Laboratory Variations: Various laboratory data also changes in the patient undergoing replacement therapy. There is an alteration in the lipid profile as well as the increased hematocrit value.

Treatment Of Low Testosterone

The treatment of the low levels of testosterone is generally done through Testosterone replacement therapy. Various dosage forms are available for supplementing the testosterone from outside. The dosage form depends upon the dose required for the patient and the convenience of the patient in administering a particular dosage form. Following are the various dosage forms available for treating low levels of testosterone:

Injectable: It is widely used dosage form as it does not undergo first pass metabolism.

Oral: It is available in tablets as well as soft gelatin capsules.

Oral patch: This patch sticks on the gums and release the drug directly in to blood.

Transdermal patches: These are patches which releases the drug through skin.


Although the most effective treatment for male hypogonadism is testosterone replacement therapy, it has its own side effects. Side effects include cardiac and prostate abnormalities, increase in clot formation, psychological effects, acne or oily skin and changes in the laboratory reports such as altered lipid profile. Further, testosterone withdrawal symptoms also cause trouble to the patients.

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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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