Is using testosterone gel safe for treating hypogonadism in men? A clinical trial reveals its results and warns of possible side effects.
Hypogonadism is a medical condition where the body does not make enough sex hormones, affecting both men and women. In men, testosterone plays a critical role in the development and maintenance of male characteristics including muscle mass, bone density, body hair, sex drive, and fertility. Hypogonadism can cause delayed sexual development, erectile dysfunction, mood changes, reduced desire for sex, depression, and fatigue.
Hypogonadism can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetic disorders, injury or infection to the testicles, chemotherapy or radiation therapy, and certain medications. Aging is also a common cause of hypogonadism, as testosterone levels naturally decline with age. Testosterone gel is a treatment that is approved for men with hypogonadism. This gel works by delivering testosterone through the skin.
In a recent clinical trial, the researchers measured the effect of the testosterone gel on blood pressure in 246 men with hypogonadism. They also monitored the side effects that patients experienced from the gel treatment. All patients applied the testosterone gel to their upper arms and shoulders every morning for 16 weeks. Both the study doctors and the patients knew that the patients received testosterone gel.
The researchers measured systolic blood pressure (SBP) over 24 hours using a device that patients wore all day. The study showed that after 16 weeks of treatment, testosterone gel may increase 24-hour SBP for some patients. Some patients had an increase in SBP, some had a decrease, and some had no change. The changes in 24-hour SBP ranged from a decrease of 32 mmHg to an increase of 29 mmHg, with an average increase of 1.9 mmHg.
While testosterone replacement therapy can be effective in treating the symptoms of hypogonadism in men, it can also have potential side effects. In this study, the treatment was generally well-tolerated. However, 18 out of 246 patients experienced at least one side effect. Common side effects were itching (1.1 %), high blood pressure (0.8 %), and increased levels of prostate-specific antigen (0.8 %).
Testosterone therapy can also stimulate the growth of prostate tissue, which can increase the risk of developing prostate cancer. Regular monitoring of prostate-specific antigen levels and regular digital rectal exams are recommended to screen for prostate cancer in men receiving testosterone therapy.
In summary, hypogonadism is a condition that can have significant impacts on men's health and quality of life. Testosterone gel can be an effective treatment option, but it is important to be aware of the potential side effects and to work closely with a healthcare provider to manage the risks and benefits of treatment. The results of this study provide new insights into the effects of testosterone gel on blood pressure in men with hypogonadism, which may be useful in developing new treatments in the future.