Testosterone is an androgenic hormone that plays a vital role in the development of sexual characteristics in men. The administration of testosterone injections is recommended for men who have low testosterone levels. The following write-up provides information on the side effects of testosterone injections.
Testosterone is a naturally-occurring male sex hormone that is mainly produced by the testes. It plays a vital role in maintaining reproductive health in men. It is also produced in small amounts by the ovaries and adrenal glands in women. The main function of testosterone in men is to regulate the development of reproductive organs and secondary sex characteristics. Low testosterone levels are often linked to advancing age. Men aged 50 years or above, are more likely to get affected by this deficiency, but low testosterone levels could also cause delayed onset of puberty in boys. Testosterone replacement therapy is recommended for men who are affected by a testosterone deficiency. Decreased libido, low energy levels, poor concentration, fatigue, depression, irritability, and erectile dysfunction are some of the symptoms that may be experienced due to a decline in the levels of this hormone. The administration of testosterone injections or the use of transdermal patches, mouth patches, gels, or implants may be recommended for correcting the deficiency.
Side Effects of Testosterone Replacement Therapy
Though administration of intramuscular testosterone injections helps to get this hormone directly to the bloodstream, thereby reducing the supposed risk of liver problems due to the use of oral pills, the user may develop a rash at the site of injection. The administration of external testosterone could disturb the body’s ability to secrete this hormone. Testosterone injections side effects also include:
◘ Allergic Reaction
Some people may develop a skin rash at the site of the injection. Hives (itching), swelling of the lips, tongue, throat or the face, and breathing problems are all signs of an allergic reaction. If a person experiences these symptoms after administering the injection, medical help must be sought immediately.
◘ Drug Interactions
Testosterone injections may alter the effects of other medications, if taken at the same time. The effectiveness of certain drugs may get affected when taken with testosterone injections. These drugs include warfarin (anticoagulant), steroidal formulations such as prednisone and methylprednisolone, certain beta blockers that are used for treating hypertension, and drugs that are prescribed for diabetes.
◘ Peliosis Hepatis
Peliosis hepatis is a life-threatening condition wherein blood-filled cysts form inside the liver and spleen. In addition, androgen therapy increases the risk for jaundice, hepatic carcinoma, hepatic neoplasms, and liver abnormalities.
◘ Fluctuations in Cholesterol Levels
Like other steroid hormones, testosterone is produced from cholesterol present in the body. Administration of external testosterone affects the balance of cholesterol in the bloodstream, which at times causes narrowing of the blood vessels, atherosclerosis, hypertension, water retention, and cholesterol-related complications.
◘ Spermatogenesis Suppression
Testosterone replacement therapy could also adversely affect the development of spermatozoa. Elevated amount of testosterone inhibits follicle-stimulating hormone, thereby suppressing sperm cell development.
◘ Cognitive Changes
Long-term effects of exogenous testosterone include cognitive and behavioral changes in the receiver. Men who are undergoing testosterone replacement therapy may experience confusion, mood swings, memory loss, and loss of concentration.
Administration of these injections could cause the development of male characteristics in women. This androgenic hormone can cause enlargement of genitalia, changes in sex drive, male pattern hair growth, changes in menstrual cycle, or male-pattern baldness. While most symptoms may resolve after removing the source of testosterone, some symptoms may persist.
Androgen therapy is contraindicated under certain circumstances. It is contraindicated in pregnant women. This therapy must be avoided under the following situations:
◘ Prostate Problems
Though the link between the androgen therapy and prostate health has been challenged by some, many health experts are of the opinion that testosterone replacement therapy could worsen the symptoms of prostate cancer. Usually, drugs are prescribed to lower testosterone levels in men who are in the advanced stages of prostate cancer. Hence, men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer must delay this therapy. Those who have been diagnosed with an enlarged prostate must also avoid this therapy.
◘ Carcinoma of the Breast
Men who suffer from carcinoma of the breast must avoid taking testosterone supplements as this may cause rapid growth of the tumors. In men, prolonged use of testosterone injections may lead to gynecomastia, which refers to abnormal development of breast tissue. This is because of the hormonal fluctuations that may occur due to the use of testosterone supplements. Hence, men with existing gynecomastia should avoid hormonal therapy.
◘ Allergic Reaction to Hormone Treatment
People who have earlier developed an allergic reaction to hormone replacement therapy, should refrain from taking testosterone injections.
Though testosterone therapy may be recommended for menopausal women, it must not be taken by women who can get pregnant. It may cause birth defects, and cause a female fetus to develop male characteristics.
Those who have been diagnosed with diabetes, high cholesterol levels, blood clotting problems, liver problems, congestive heart failure, or a high red blood cell count should also avoid testosterone replacement therapy.
In case of men who suffer from hypogonadism, a condition wherein the testes don’t produce sufficient amounts of testosterone, doctors suggest the administration of 50 to 400 mg of testosterone every two to four weeks. Unlike gels and creams, testosterone injections are much cheaper. While injections are administered less frequently (once in two or three weeks), gels need to be applied more often. Injections are safer than gels, as any form of topical formulation can cause serious complications in children who come in direct or indirect contact with it. However, the affected individual must undergo androgen therapy under the guidance of a medical expert. Any negligence in handling and administering these injections could result in mild to severe medical problems.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.