The amount of testosterone in the body gradually declines in men as they age, especially after 30. Luckily, testosterone replacement therapy is available, and there are several methods to replace and correct testosterone deficiencies. Dosage is based on your medical condition, testosterone blood levels and your response to treatment. Besides the advantages and warnings related to testosterone as a drug, below are the advantages and disadvantages of various forms of testosterone. Even though gels and sticks do not require special procedures in a doctor’s office, you should always seek professional advice before using testosterone based products.
Most of the time, testosterone is administered as an intramuscular injection. It is given into the buttock muscle usually every 1 to 4 weeks. It is important to use the intramuscular route and not inject it into the veins, because the preparation was created for intramuscular administration. Pain and redness at the injection site may occur.
A testosterone patch is an alternative to the intramuscular form of administration of this drug. It can be worn either on the body or on the scrotum. The patch is convenient to use. It is applied once a day in the evening, it sticks to the skin very well and is not affected by showering or washing even few hours after application. Another version of testosterone patch is the mucoadhesive material (containing testosterone) that has to be applied above the teeth twice a day.
You can also avoid injections by using another convenient form, testosterone gel, first introduced in the US in 2000. Serum testosterone levels reach a steady-state on the first day application and remains in the normal range for the duration of the application. From this point of view, testosterone gel is comparable to that of a testosterone patch but superior to injectable form. It is very well tolerated and the flexibility of taking another dose easily makes testosterone gel one of the most used forms of this medication. Testosterone cream can also be purchased and has similar efficacy with testosterone gel.
Oral tablets of testosterone are also available on the market in the form testosterone undecenoate. The pills cause blood testosterone levels to peak after about four hours and drop again after eight hours. As a result, the pills have to be taken two or three times a day to maintain an adequate level.
There is also a long-acting subcutaneous implant containing testosterone that has the advantage of being administered once and the blood levels of testosterone will be stable for 4 to 6 months. The pellets are implanted under the skin of the buttocks and requires a minor surgical procedure in the doctor’s office. Side effects include local pain and tenderness, swelling in the area of implant, and possible infection of the implantation site.
Finally, testosterone is also available in a stick form, being used under the arm, as a deodorant. This is another convenient, easy-method to replace testosterone and has similar efficacy with the gel and the cream.