Men who are suffering from low testosterone, whether from age or hypogonadism, will want to know the side effects of testosterone therapy and what those side effects mean for them and their health. Men who are affected by low testosterone may be suffering from signs such as decreased sex drive, a loss of muscle and bone mass or difficulty concentrating. These and other symptoms may have them eager to begin a course of treatment that will lead them down a path of improvement. However, prior to beginning testosterone therapy, it is important to fully discuss and review the potential side effects involved and weigh the risk to benefit ratio carefully. With the help of a good doctor, men should have a complete work up and a thorough understanding of the side effects of testosterone therapy before beginning any type of treatment.
- Acne or oily skin. Some men may find that one of the least troublesome side of effects of testosterone therapy is that testosterone causes the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum, or oil, which will result in excessively oily skin. The excess oil may clog the skins pores and cause an increase in acne.
- Fluid retention. Another side effect is the retaining of fluid, which can result in an increase in body weight, swelling or high blood pressure.
- Sleep apnea. For men who already suffer from sleep apnea, there may be a periodic worsening of the condition. While this is not always the case, it has been noted as one of the possible side effects of testosterone therapy.
- Breast enlargement. Excess testosterone can spill over and convert to estrogen. When this happens, some men may notice an enlargement of the breast tissue or sensitivity. This can be countered by decreasing the dosage.
- Decreased sperm count. Sperm production relies on testosterone from the testes. When testosterone from an outside source is introduced, such as during testosterone therapy, that natural production could come to a temporary or long term halt. Men who are considering starting a family should take this side effect of testosterone therapy to heart before proceeding with the treatment.
- Increased red blood cell count. Testosterone therapy can result in an increase of red blood cells, which can thicken the blood and cause stroke or a heart attack. It is important to follow up on any blood tests ordered by your doctor to monitor these red blood cells. If this occurs, it can be treated by lowering the dosage or simply donating blood.
- Prostate enlargement. As a result of testosterone therapy, men may have an enlargement of the prostate, which may interfere with the flow and frequency of urination.
- Prostate cancer. Prior to starting testosterone therapy, your doctor will likely discuss the potential risk if any of prostate cancer and conduct a blood test. Men who are in a high risk group for prostate cancer or who currently have prostate cancer, should not consider this type of therapy. Although there is no concrete evidence that testosterone therapy will cause prostate cancer, there is a concern that it may potentially increase the cancer cells in men with prostate cancer or encourage the growth in men who are at risk.