Testosterone gels are one form of treatment to combat Androgen Deficiency in men. As testosterone is the major androgen in the case of human beings, testosterone gels are quite useful to counter this syndrome. These gels have alleviated the symptoms of testosterone deficiency for many men.
But it is important to know all the side effects that this therapy may show before using it. The one aspect that sets apart these gels is that they can have visible effects on the people that come in contact with the men that use them. So the side effects are not restricted to the patient, they can be manifested on others as well.
Hence it is essential to know all of these properties of testosterone gels before one uses them. Although television shows are hypothetical and dramatized versions of reality, there is one particular episode of the medical drama ‘House MD’ which is based on the side effects of such ointments.
Much of what was depicted in that show was exaggerated, but the point is, the side effects of testosterone gels was so well known in the medical community even ten years ago that they were portrayed in a TV show too.
When are testosterone gels prescribed?
Testosterone gels are prescribed for men that are diagnosed with androgen/testosterone deficiency. This is done by means of physical examination as well as blood work. Patients who do not prefer injections or patches are usually recommended such gels.
The mechanism of action of testosterone gels
The active ingredient in testosterone gels is designed in such a way that it gets absorbed through the skin. Thus, testosterone gels are applied topically by the patients that use them.
It follows that if the patient is not careful, such gels can easily be transferred to other people through physical contact and hence the user should be extremely careful while applying them.
Common side effects in men
As is the case with any hormone therapy the usage of testosterone gels has many common side effects. These are seen with artificial hormone supplementation and almost never with natural testosterone boosting methods.
Some of the most common adverse effects include headaches, nausea, anxiety, depression, reduction in libido, muscle weakness and a reduced sperm count. It is ironic that many of the side effects of testosterone supplementation match those of the deficiency of the hormone.
All of these side effects are usually not seen in a single patient at once and many a times their scale is not serious. But one should report them to one’s healthcare provider nonetheless if one experiences them.
Some of the graver side effects of such ointments include allergic reactions, difficulty in breathing, enlargement of breasts, frequent urination and sometimes adverse effects on the liver. These conditions can be life threatening and should be reported immediately. Any delay in treating these side effects can lead to permanent damage or debility.
Who should avoid testosterone gels?
Testosterone supplementation should be avoided in all patients that are at risk for prostate cancer. Studies have shown a strong correlation between incidences of prostate cancer and high testosterone levels. Those patients with concurrent cardiovascular disease should also refrain from hormone supplementation.
In fact, all preexisting medical conditions should be reported to one’s physician before one starts using such ointments.
Preventive measures to avoid accidental exposure to the gel
Whenever one is using any kind of topical gel, it is best to undertake certain measures so that other people do not get accidentally exposed to it. Such medicines should be applied when one begins the day; applying them at night can lead to the bed linens absorbing them and transmitting them to anybody who comes in contact with such sheets.
One should always wash ones hands thoroughly after applying the gel. Even if small residues remain behind, they are enough to cause undesirable effects in the individuals that accidently come in contact with the medicine. If possible, one should use separate towels and handkerchiefs to dry ones hands post usage. These items should also be washed separately.
Always store such medications away from the reach of small children or others who might accidentally use them. One should never take anybody else’s aid for applying the medicine. Should such aid be absolutely necessary, the helper should always wear gloves. Any empty tubes or unused medicine should be disposed off carefully so that unsuspecting persons do not come in their contact.
Finally, if anybody does come in contact with the medicine despite of all the preventive measures, such an individual should receive immediate medical attention.
Side effects seen in women
Women that come in contact with medications containing testosterone usually report excessive hair growth, especially on the face. Some women also report acne and skin disorders. Loss in libido is also a common complaint due to reduction in estrogen levels in females. Pregnant women should avoid contact with such ointments at all costs.
It is imperative to prevent direct as well as indirect contact with the medicine, as transmission through clothes and linen is one of the most common forms of exposure.
Side effects seen in children
Aggressive behavior is one of the most common side effects seen in adolescents. Early development of puberty in both boys and girls may be seen with exposure to testosterone. Alterations in growth patterns may also be seen amongst children.
It can be seen that testosterone gels need to be used very cautiously to prevent undesirable side effects in both the patient and the people around him. It is always better to try natural methods of augmenting testosterone before resorting to artificial supplementation.