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Testosterone Therapy Side Effects

Though it is considered safe, testosterone therapy may cause certain side effects, which can be prevented to some extent, by strictly following the doctor's instructions with regard to the treatment.
Megha Tiwari
Testosterone is a hormone that is produced in greater amounts in males as compared to females. In case of females, testosterone helps in maintaining the muscle mass, bone density, and libido. In males, this hormone is produced in the testes and is responsible for masculine traits, bone density, fat distribution, sexual drive, muscle mass, strength, production of RBC and sperms, etc. Usually, the level of testosterone in the body increases during adolescence, but declines with age. An unusual drop in the level of testosterone may result in hypogonadism, wherein the sex glands do not produce adequate amount of hormones. Testosterone therapy may work to reverse this problem, but you must be aware of the side effects before you plan to get this treatment.
Side Effects
Some people think that testosterone would bless them with revitalized energy and youth, but the results can be a bit dicey. For example, studies have shown that in a few men, this therapy has resulted in increase of muscle mass, but strength gain has been negligible. One of the common side effects of this therapy is a serious sleep disorder known as sleep apnea, which causes intermittent interruption in breathing during sleep. This treatment may increase the RBC count excessively, thereby increasing the risk of heart diseases. Testosterone therapy is often prescribed for men, boys who have complaints of late puberty, and even women. However, the side effects may not be the same for all.
In Men
It has been observed that testosterone supplements provide energy to athletes, fixes erectile dysfunction, and increases sex-drive. But they may cause some minor to serious adverse effects if not used according to the instructions of the healthcare provider. Some of the common side effects include nausea, vomiting, acne, headache, noticeable and sudden increase in appetite, liver damage, swelling in ankles, and priapism (a long-lasting erection that may require immediate medication). This therapy may also contribute to benign prostatic hyperplasia, enlarged breasts, or shrinking of testicles. These supplements may prove harmful for those who have a high cholesterol level, heart problems, or prostate cancer. It has also been suggested that excessive testosterone activates cancerous cells in the prostate. So, it is essential for men to undergo a complete prostate cancer screening before starting the therapy.
In Women
Testosterone level in women decreases gradually with age. A drop in the level of testosterone may occur due to natural or surgical menopause. It can be compensated with testosterone supplements that are available in the form of pills, injections, gel, or cream. Testosterone therapy is generally recommended for those women who have sufficient estrogen level in their body. However, this treatment should be avoided by women who have a history of heart or liver disease, or uterine or breast cancer. The therapy may cause some side effects like increase in acne and facial hair, liver problems, enlarged breast and clitoris, peliosis hepatis, depression, mood swings, and lowering of voice.
We have seen that testosterone therapy is associated with many side effects. At times, it is better to use natural testosterone supplements and follow healthy ways to maintain the hormone level rather than taking pills and injections. Some easy ways to maintain a healthy testosterone level include less intake of fatty food, healthy diet, reduced stress, sound sleep, and less consumption of alcohol.
Testosterone supplements must be used as per the instructions of a qualified medical practitioner, who is well aware of your health and medical conditions. Try to understand the pros and cons of the treatment beforehand.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.