Testosterone Gel

Testosterone gel has rapidly become one of the preferred forms of treatment in those suffering from low testosterone. This is an extremely popular form of testosterone therapy as there is no injection involved. A testosterone gel is simply rubbed onto the skin like lotion. While the ease of use provides a lot of desire, a testosterone gel does come with a downside compared to injectable testosterones in its bioavailability. However, for the treatment of low testosterone this issue can be eliminated so as long as the proper dose is applied.

History of Testosterone Gel:

Testosterone gel first became popular in 2000 when Unimed Pharmaceuticals introduced AndroGel, the most well-known testosterone gel to ever hit the market. Shortly after AndroGel was released, Auxillum Pharmaceuticals would release Testim, a testosterone gel with a 38% greater bioavailability than AndroGel. For several years, these two forms would dominate the market, and while Testim would prove more powerful its thicker and stickier composition, along with superior AndroGel marketing would leave Testim in second place. However, in 2006 the U.S. FDA would approve generic testosterone gel manufactured by Watson Pharmaceuticals officially opening the marketplace to heavy competition. Since that time, testosterone gel has become one of the leading testosterone therapy medications.

Testosterone Gel 101:

Testosterone gel, regardless of the brand, is officially classified as a transdermal hydroalcoholic testosterone gel specifically manufactured for the human pharmaceutical market. By its mode of delivery, it is designed to provide continuous testosterone therapy for several hours post administration. The specific brand will, however, affect the testosterone gel's absorption rate as well as concentration. For example, AndroGel will provide approximately 10% of the applied dose in usable and absorbable testosterone and many generic versions are similar. Data has shown that brands like Testim will provide a much stronger concentration of usable testosterone based on the applied dose, but they can be harder to apply.

The brand of testosterone gel will also affect its concentration and total strength. Most commonly, testosterone gels will carry a 1% concentration or a close proximity and can be found in 2.5g and 5g sachets. Such sachets will provide 25mg and 50mg of usable testosterone respectively.

Effects of Testosterone Gel:

Once in the body, testosterone gel will perform identically to the testosterone that is naturally manufactured by the human body. It is a synthetic version, but once in the body the body will make no distinguishing difference in testosterone gel and the testosterone it naturally produces. For the low testosterone patient, this is more than welcome as such an individual is no longer producing an adequate amount of testosterone to meet his body's needs.

The testosterone hormone itself is responsible for many areas of our wellbeing covering our physical, sexual and even mental functions. When levels begin to fall, we will find we begin to suffer in each of these areas, and when ignored, often the symptoms begin to mount up. Those who apply the transdermal cream will often find the effects of testosterone gel lead to numerous improvements. Many men who suffer from low testosterone often find significant losses in muscle mass and strength to be common. Body fat gain is also common and often difficult to reverse despite diet and exercise when testosterone levels are low. Most men will also experience sexually related symptoms such as a decreased libido or erectile dysfunction; the latter can refer to the inability to obtain or maintain an erection. These are all common early symptoms of low testosterone, but if ignored most men will find other symptoms to manifest. Insomnia, a lack of energy, lethargy, irritability and even depression are all very common symptoms, and if due to low testosterone the effects of testosterone gel can remedy each symptom each and every time.

If you suffer from low testosterone, the effects of testosterone gel can be very beneficial in protecting your body from far more serious conditions. Low testosterone itself is not life threatening, and while it can severely diminish your quality of life it can also promote in a gateway sense many far more serious conditions. Low testosterone has been linked to heart disease, Alzheimer's, diabetes and osteoporosis. Those who suffer from low testosterone will be at a far greater risk of such conditions if the condition is ignored.

Side Effects of Testosterone Gel:

There are possible side effects of testosterone gel use; however, the odds are highly in your favor. Remember, this is not a foreign substance to your body; it is merely testosterone, a hormone you are well accustomed to. In fact, most men can tolerate high levels of testosterone fairly well, but it is high doses that will most commonly exasperate the potential for adverse effects. When using a testosterone gel to treat low testosterone, you will merely be applying enough of the hormone to combat what your body is lacking. However, side effects of testosterone gel still remain possible, but they are more than combatable with proper steps.

  • Estrogenic: Testosterone gel use can lead to estrogenic side effects, most commonly gynecomastia and excess water retention. This is due to the testosterone hormone's interaction with the aromatase enzyme, which causes a testosterone to estrogen conversion. As estrogen levels rise, this can lead to such effects. If water retention gets out of hand, this can also promote high blood pressure.

    Due to the potential estrogenic activity, some men may need an anti-estrogen medication such as a Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator (SERM) like Nolvadex (Tamoxifen Citrate) or an Aromatase Inhibitor (AI) like Arimidex (Anastrozole). SERM's will function by binding to the estrogen receptors preventing the estrogen hormone from binding and causing the related actions. AI's will function by inhibiting the aromatase process and by lowering serum estrogen levels in the body. AI's will be the most effective, but as we will shortly see they can have a downside.

  • Cardiovascular: The use of exogenous testosterone can suppress HDL cholesterol levels; however, most data shows it to be measurably insignificant. When AI's are used, this appears to exasperate the issue and can suppress HDL levels by approximately 25% even in therapeutic level doses. If a testosterone gel is used and an AI is needed, the individual should put some effort into controlling his cholesterol. A cholesterol friendly lifestyle should include plenty of omega fatty acids (daily fish oil supplementation is recommended) and should be limited in saturated fats and simple carbohydrates. Daily cardiovascular activity should also be a part of your routine.

    Conversely, if SERM's are used to combat the estrogenic side effects of testosterone gel, they will have no negative effect on cholesterol. In fact, while anti-estrogenic in nature, SERM's actively act as estrogen in the liver and have been shown to improve cholesterol levels. Unfortunately, for those who need estrogen protection they are often not enough.

  • Androgenic: The side effects of testosterone gel can include those of an androgenic nature. The possible androgenic side effects of testosterone gel include acne, accelerated hair loss in those predisposed to male pattern baldness and body hair growth. Such effects are highly dependent on genetics. For example, if you are not predisposed to male pattern baldness no amount of testosterone gel can cause you to lose any hair. If you are not acne sensitive, any acne issues are highly unlikely.

    The androgenic side effects of testosterone gel are due to the testosterone hormone's interaction with the 5-alpha reductase enzyme. This interaction leads to the testosterone hormone being reduced to another androgen in dihydrotestosterone (DHT) where it targets the response areas in the skin and scalp. If you are sensitive to the androgenic side effects of testosterone gel, you may find the use of a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor like Finasteride to be useful. This will not completely eliminate the androgenicity of the hormone, but it will significantly reduce it. However, keep in mind such effects are highly dependant on genetics and to a degree the total dosing of testosterone gel applied. Most men will have no need for a related inhibitor.

  • Testosterone: The use of a testosterone gel will suppress your natural testosterone production. However, for the low testosterone patient this is of no concern as such an individual is not producing enough testosterone to begin with.

  • Application: Some individuals who use testosterone gel will find the applied area is irritated. Rashes or slight burns can occur but should be rare for most men. If such effects of testosterone gel occur, you will need to find alternative forms of testosterone therapy.

Testosterone Gel vs. Injectable Testosterone:

Many men who are beginning their testosterone therapy are often presented with two choices, testosterone gel or an injectable version of the primary male testosterone hormone. These are not the only two available forms of administration, but they are the most common. Regardless of the form you choose or the one your doctor prescribes you, both are comprised of the same identical testosterone hormone. Once in the body the human body will not know if it arrived through injection or a transdermal cream. However, the issue of bioavailability can be a concern for some men. Many men will find testosterone gel completely eliminates their low testosterone condition, but for some it won't be enough. There will be those who will need such a large dose of testosterone gel to combat their condition that use simply isn't feasible or efficient. If this is the case, you will more than likely need injedctable testosterone.

Testosterone Gel Administration:

Testosterone gel is normally applied to the body first thing in the morning to clean, dry skin. The upper arms, shoulders and abdomen are the most common areas of application. Once applied, the individual should wash his hands thoroughly with soap and water to ensure others, especially women and children do not come into contact with the medication. Direct skin-to-skin contact such as sexual activity should also be avoided after testosterone gel is applied in order to prevent it from coming into contact with a female partner. Such contact should be avoided for twelve hours post application of the testosterone gel. If such contact is to occur before the twelve hour mark is reached the individual should shower before sexual activity begins. Even if the twelve hour mark has passed, a shower before sexual activity is advised.

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