Common side effects from testosterone medication include acne, swelling, and breast enlargement in males. Serious side effects may include liver toxicity, heart disease, and behavioral changes. Women and children who are exposed may develop virilization. It is recommended that individuals with prostate cancer not use the medication. It can cause harm if used during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Testosterone has two major effects on bones: (a) through conversion to estradiol by way of the enzyme, aromatase, testosterone inhibits osteoclastic activity and hence bone resorption; and (b) through conversion to DHT via 5-α-reductase, it stimulates osteoblastic activity and so enhances the laying down of bone (Tivesten et al 2004; Davey and Morris 2005). Hypogonadal men are at risk for the development of osteopenia or osteoporosis and hence for subsequent fracture (Fink et al 2006). About one-third of all osteoporotic hip fractures occur in men and the risk of any osteoporotic fracture in men over 50 is as high as 25 percent (Seeman 1997; Adler 2006). Although treatment with testosterone in hypogonadal men increases bone mineral density (Katznelson et al 1996), it has not yet been established that this results in a reduction in fracture rate.
A: Androderm comes in the form of a transdermal patch and is used for testosterone replacement therapy in patients who have insufficient levels of testosterone. Testosterone is a hormone produced in the body that plays a key role in many physiological processes in men. In some men, however, the body does not produce enough of the hormone, resulting in a variety of symptoms including decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, muscle loss, anemia and depression, among others. Androderm helps treat these symptoms and raise low testosterone levels by delivering therapeutic amounts of the hormone, which are absorbed through the skin. According to the prescribing information for Androderm, depression was a reported side effect of the medication. Other common side effects of Androderm include itching and redness at the application site, prostate abnormalities, headache, and burning or hardening of the skin at the application site. Less common side effects of Androderm include reduced libido (sex drive), fatigue, high blood pressure, anxiety, confusion, increased appetite, and body pain. For more specific information, consult with your doctor for guidance based on your health status and current medications, particularly before taking any action. Your physician can determine if your dosage of the medication needs to be adjusted or if an alternative medication should be considered. Lori Poulin, PharmD
Clinical trials of the effect of testosterone on glucose metabolism in men have occurred in diabetic and non-diabetic populations. Data specific to aging males is not available. A series of studies investigated the effects of testosterone or dihydrotestosterone given for 6 weeks or 3 months to middle aged, non-diabetic obese men (Marin, Holmang et al 1992; Marin, Krotkiewski et al 1992; Marin et al 1993). It was found that physiological treatment doses led to improved insulin resistance, as measured by the gold standard technique using a euglycemic clamp and/or serum glucose and insulin responses during glucose tolerance test. These improvements were associated with decreased central obesity, measured by computered tomography (CT) or waist-hip ratio, without reduced total fat mass. Insulin resistance improved more with testosterone than dihydrotestosterone treatment and beneficial effects were greater in men with lower baseline testosterone levels. Increasing testosterone levels into the supraphysiological range lead to decreased glucose tolerance.
Bhatia et al (2006) studied 70 male patients with type2 diabetes mellitus (age range 24–78 years). Thirty-seven subjects were found to have hypogonadism based on a calculated free testosterone level of less than 6.5 μg/dl. The hypogonadal group had a statistically significant lower hematocrit. Anemia was observed in 23% of the patients (16 out of 70). In 14 of 15 anemic patients calculated free testosterone was low.
For example, the study published in Obesity Research tells that the scientists measured testosterone levels in two groups of middle-aged men with obesity. One group underwent a 16-week weight loss program, while the second group did nothing. Each participant of the first group lost 20 kg on the average. And these participants experienced a significant increase in testosterone levels. So, the fight against overweight is very important for those who want to overcome testosterone deficiency. But starvation is strictly forbidden because this is a stressful situation which leads to the sharp decline in T levels.
The finding of hypogonadism in diabetic men is not just a scientific curiosity, it may have practical management implications. Kapoor and colleagues (2006) undertook a placebo-controlled double blind study to determine the effect of testosterone therapy on insulin resistance and glycemic control in hypogonadal men with type 2 diabetes. They found that men treated with testosterone had reductions in glycated hemoglobin insulin resistance, fasting blood sugar, waist circumference, waist/hip ratio and total cholesterol.
It is hard to know how many men among us have TD, although data suggest that overall about 2.1% (about 2 men in every 100) may have TD. As few as 1% of younger men may have TD, while as many as 50% of men over 80 years old may have TD. People who study the condition often use different cut-off points for the numbers, so you may hear different numbers being stated.
The definition of the metabolic syndrome continues to be a work in progress. Within the last decade a number of definitions have emerged each with its own set of criteria although there is considerable overlap among them. The most recent definition seems to enjoy considerable consensus. It requires central adiposity (>94 cm waist circumference) plus two of, increased triglycerides, decreased HDL cholesterol, hypertension, insulin resistance as evidenced by impaired glucose tolerance, or frank diabetes (Alberti 2005). Almost immediately on the heels of this consensus, came a number of specific chemical markers which have been proposed to complement the basic definition of the metabolic syndrome (Eckel et al 2005).
This evidence, together with the beneficial effects of testosterone replacement on central obesity and diabetes, raises the question whether testosterone treatment could be beneficial in preventing or treating atherosclerosis. No trial of sufficient size or duration has investigated the effect of testosterone replacement in primary or secondary prevention cardiovascular disease. The absence of such data leads us to examine the relationship of testosterone to other cardiovascular risk factors, such as adverse lipid parameters, blood pressure, endothelial dysfunction, coagulation factors, inflammatory markers and cytokines. This analysis can supply evidence of the likely effects of testosterone on overall cardiovascular risk. This has limitations, however, including the potential for diverging effects of testosterone on the various factors involved and the resultant impossibility of accurately predicting the relative impact of such changes.
There are valid concerns about the safety of long-term treatment with testosterone particularly with respect to the cardiovascular system and the potential for stimulating prostate cancer development. There are no convincing hard data, however, to support these concerns. If anything, the data strongly suggest that adequate testosterone availability is cardioprotective and coronary risk factors such as diabetes, obesity and the metabolic syndrome are associated with reduced testosterone levels. It is certainly appropriate to avoid giving testosterone to men with prostate or breast cancer but it is not appropriate to accuse testosterone of inducing the development of de novo prostate cancers since evidence for this accusation is lacking (Wang et al 2004; Feneley and Carruthers 2006).