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Testosterone for Osteoporosis

Examples

Generic Name Brand Name
testosterone Androderm, AndroGel, Delatestryl, Depo-Testosterone

Testosterone can be given as a shot in the muscle, usually every 2 to 3 weeks.

Testosterone can also be given as a patch that is placed on the skin and changed every day. Or it can be used as a gel that is applied daily to the skin.

How It Works

Men who have low naturally occurring testosterone take testosterone medicine to bring their levels back to normal. This slows bone thinning and reduces calcium loss.

Why It Is Used

Testosterone is used to prevent osteoporosis in men who have low testosterone levels. Testosterone is not used to prevent or treat osteoporosis in women.

How Well It Works

Testosterone may improve bone thickness, especially in the bones of the spine (vertebrae), but the evidence is not clear.1

Many men with low testosterone levels report that they feel better and have increased energy while taking testosterone.

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor right away if you have:

  • Hives.
  • Blisters, itching, or redness on the skin under a testosterone patch.
  • Breast soreness or enlargement.
  • An erection that lasts longer than 3 hours or is painful.
  • Trouble urinating.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

When using testosterone products on your skin, make sure you follow all of the instructions that come with the medicine.

Many other supplements may interact with testosterone. For example, testosterone should not be used if you are taking the supplement dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). DHEA is a human steroid hormone that decreases as a person ages. It frequently is advertised as a "rejuvenation" supplement. DHEA may increase testosterone levels, and combining it with other testosterone therapy may cause problems with blood clot formation or other serious health problems. Be sure to tell your doctor about any nonprescription medicines, supplements, or herbs you are taking.

Some experts are concerned that testosterone could increase the risk of prostate cancer. Your doctor may recommend regular exams and blood tests to check for problems.

Testosterone should not be taken by men who have prostate cancer.

Testosterone can affect your fertility. If you are trying to have a child, you may want to ask your doctor about how this medicine can affect your chances of conceiving.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Checkups

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

References

Citations

  1. Ebeling P (2008). Osteoporosis in men. New England Journal of Medicine, 358(14): 1474–1482.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Carla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine
Current as of November 6, 2012

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