Testosterone is a naturally-occurring male sex hormone that is mainly produced by the testes. It plays a vital role in maintaining reproductive health in men. It is also produced in small amounts by the ovaries and adrenal glands in women. The main function of testosterone in men is to regulate the development of reproductive organs and secondary sex characteristics. Low testosterone levels are often linked to advancing age. Men aged 50 years or above, are more likely to get affected by this deficiency, but low testosterone levels could also cause delayed onset of puberty in boys. Testosterone replacement therapy is recommended for men who are affected by a testosterone deficiency. Decreased libido, low energy levels, poor concentration, fatigue, depression, irritability, and erectile dysfunction are some of the symptoms that may be experienced due to a decline in the levels of this hormone. The administration of testosterone injections or the use of transdermal patches, mouth patches, gels, or implants may be recommended for correcting the deficiency.
Side Effects of Testosterone Replacement Therapy Though administration of intramuscular testosterone injections helps to get this hormone directly to the bloodstream, thereby reducing the supposed risk of liver problems due to the use of oral pills, the user may develop a rash at the site of injection. The administration of external testosterone could disturb the body's ability to secrete this hormone. Testosterone injections side effects also include:
Allergic Reaction Some people may develop a skin rash at the site of the injection. Hives (itching), swelling of the lips, tongue, throat or the face, and breathing problems are all signs of an allergic reaction. If a person experiences these symptoms after administering the injection, medical help must be sought immediately.
Drug Interactions Testosterone injections may alter the effects of other medications, if taken at the same time. The effectiveness of certain drugs may get affected when taken with testosterone injections. These drugs include warfarin (anticoagulant), steroidal formulations such as prednisone and methylprednisolone, certain beta blockers that are used for treating hypertension, and drugs that are prescribed for diabetes.
Peliosis Hepatis Peliosis hepatis is a life-threatening condition wherein blood-filled cysts form inside the liver and spleen. In addition, androgen therapy increases the risk for jaundice, hepatic carcinoma, hepatic neoplasms, and liver abnormalities.
Fluctuations in Cholesterol Levels Like other steroid hormones, testosterone is produced from cholesterol present in the body. Administration of external testosterone affects the balance of cholesterol in the bloodstream, which at times causes narrowing of the blood vessels, atherosclerosis, hypertension, water retention, and cholesterol-related complications.
Spermatogenesis Suppression Testosterone replacement therapy could also adversely affect the development of spermatozoa. Elevated amount of testosterone inhibits follicle-stimulating hormone, thereby suppressing sperm cell development.
Cognitive Changes Long-term effects of exogenous testosterone include cognitive and behavioral changes in the receiver. Men who are undergoing testosterone replacement therapy may experience confusion, mood swings, memory loss, and loss of concentration.
Virilization Administration of these injections could cause the development of male characteristics in women. This androgenic hormone can cause enlargement of genitalia, changes in sex drive, male pattern hair growth, changes in menstrual cycle, or male-pattern baldness. While most symptoms may resolve after removing the source of testosterone, some symptoms may persist.
Contraindications to Testosterone Therapy
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