Uncommon Side Effects of Testosterone
Mild to moderate Side Effects:
- Acne, oily or irritated skin
- Mild to moderate fluid retention
- Stimulation of prostate tissue, which could cause increased urination symptoms such as decreased frequency or pressure of stream
Serious Side Effects
- Possibility of increased risk of developing prostate cancer
- Mild to moderate breast enlargement
- Increased risk of blood clots
- Worsening of sleep apnea
- Increased levels of red blood cells
- Decreased testicular size
- Hormonal imbalance, mood swings
- Possibly of increased risk of heart attack and/or stroke
Laboratory abnormalities that can occur with hormone replacement include:
- Changes in cholesterol and lipid levels
- Increased percentage of red blood cells in bloodstream
- Decrease in sperm production, producing infertility (especially in men under 40)
Side effects in women and children who’ve made accidental contact with topical gels and creams, or clothing that has been exposed to the gels and creams:
- changes in body hair, facial hair, or a large increase in acne.
- Early signs of puberty in children such as: enlarged penis or clitoris, early development of pubic hair, increased erection or sex drive, aggressive behavior.
*If a woman or child has made contact with the area of skin where the gel was applied, or the clothing at was on when the gel was applied, they should wash the area of contact immediately with soap and water, according to the Federal Drug Administration.
Long-Term Effects of Low T Drugs
The U.S. Federal Drug Administration is currently studying the risk of heart attack, stroke, blood clot and death in men undergoing various forms of testosterone therapy.
There are several conflicting studies that suggest testosterone therapy may lower heart risk. Additional studies must be conducted to be certain whether and how testosterone therapy has any effect on men’s risk of heart attack. Be sure to ask your doctor about your heart health before beginning testosterone therapy of any kind.
*It’s important to keep in mind, once testosterone therapy is initiated, the patient typically undergoes lifelong treatment. Patients will visit a doctor roughly every 6 months to ensure hormone levels are maintained. Some patients may require more frequent checkups, depending on pre-existing conditions or the type of hormone therapy prescribed.
The Harvard Medical School and Harvard Health Publications recently published an article in which the Endocrine Society suggested testosterone therapy should not be recommended for men who have the following conditions, as the therapy may worsen some existing issues:
- prostate or breast cancer
- a nodule on the prostate that can be felt during a DRE
- a PSA greater than 3 ng/ml without further evaluation
- a hematocrit greater than 50% or thick, viscous blood
- untreated obstructive sleep apnea
- severe lower urinary tract symptoms
- class III or IV heart failure.
Off Label Uses of Testosterone
Use of Testosterone Among Athletes for Performance Enhancement
While many men use testosterone to address sexual performance issues, a large portion of “Low T” users take advantage of testosterone therapies and steroids to enhance their physical performance.
Athletes, body builders and weight lifters use testosterone-boosting supplements and drugs to increase strength, quickly build muscle mass and improve recovery time. Using these performances enhancing drugs (PEDs) is often referred to as “doping.” Binge-using these hormones and steroids can result in serious and lifelong effects, such as male-pattern baldness, acne, accelerated bodily growth in women, liver damage, stunted growth, impotence, aggressiveness, depression, diabetes, strokes, heart attack and death.
* Using performance-enhancing drugs, testosterone included, is illegal in most professional sports.