Treatment Options

Safety of Testosterone Replacement Therapy

Adverse effects

Testosterone therapy is characterized by a wide margin of safety. Occasional adverse events for which there is evidence of association with testosterone administration include erythrocytosis (abnormally high numbers of red blood cells); acne and oily skin, particularly at the beginning of treatment and generally transient; reduced sperm production and fertility.1 Rarely, transient gynecomastia can occur at the beginning of treatment; in isolated cases frequent or sustained erections can occur. In these cases the dose must be reduced or the preparation withdrawn in order to prevent damage resulting from a sustained erection. Use of testosterone in high doses or over prolonged periods can result in clinically insignificant changes in lipid profiles. In predisposed men (e.g. marked obesity, chronic obstructive lung disease) induction or worsening of obstructive sleep apnea may rarely occur.1 The sleep apnea disappears when the testosterone therapy is discontinued.

Contraindications and Precautions

Guidelines on monitoring patients during testosterone replacement treatment

The international medical societies European Association of Urology (EAU), International Society for the Study of the Aging Male (ISSAM), International Society of Andrology (ISA), American Society of Andrology (ASA), and European Academy of Andrology (EAA) have issued recommendations on the definition, investigation, treatment and follow-up of men with late-onset hypogonadism.1,7 They recommend:

Useful additional advice for men with hypogonadism

Prevent osteoporosis

Learn about erectile dysfunction or infertility

Reduce stress

Allow time for the benefits of testosterone replacement therapy to appear

1. Bhasin S, Cunningham GR, Hayes FJ, et al. Testosterone therapy in adult men with androgen deficiency syndromes: an endocrine society clinical practice guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2006; 91(6): 1995-2010.
2. Qoubaitary A, Swerdloff RS, Wang C. Advances in male hormone substitution therapy. Expert Opin Pharmacother 2005; 6(9): 1493-506.
3. Seftel A. Testosterone replacement therapy for male hypogonadism: part III. Pharmacologic and clinical profiles, monitoring, safety issues, and potential future agents. Int J Impot Res 2007; 19(1): 2-24
4. Sharma V, Perros P. The management of hypogonadism in aging male patients. Postgrad Med 2009; 121(1): 113-21
5. Tung DS, Cunningham GR. Androgen deficiency in men. The Endocrinologist 2007; 17(2): 101-115
6. Zitzmann M, Nieschlag E. Testosterone substitution: current modalities and perspectives. J Reproduktionsmed Endokrinol 2006; 3(2): 109-116
7. Wang, C., E. Nieschlag, R. Swerdloff, et al. Investigation, treatment and monitoring of late-onset hypogonadism in males: ISA, ISSAM, EAU, EAA and ASA recommendations. Eur J Endocrinol 2008, 159(5): 507-514

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