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By Mike Kocsis | 7 minutes read | Last updated: April 28, 2022 |
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    Testosterone creams and gels are popular forms of testosterone medication prescribed to men who have low testosterone levels. There are other forms of testosterone medication, such as injections, but many people prefer testosterone gels and creams because they are easier to use and apply than injections.

    If you are considering these forms of testosterone medication but are still not sure whether to use them or not, read the article to learn more about them and make a knowledgeable decision.

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    How to tell if you have low testosterone?

    Testosterone is an essential hormone your body needs to perform several functions. When it is not produced in the required amount, your body fails to perform normally, and you may experience some symptoms such as:

    These symptoms can be due to other conditions which is why you’ll need to take a testosterone blood test to ensure you are experiencing these symptoms due to the lack of testosterone.

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    How to diagnose low testosterone?

    If you experience the symptoms mentioned above, you should visit a doctor and share your concern. Your doctor will do a physical examination and ask you about your medical history. They will then ask you to have a serum testosterone test – It is just like a blood test whereby your total testosterone level is identified. Your sample will be taken preferably in the morning, the time when men generally have the highest testosterone levels.

    The sample will be sent to the lab, and you will get your test report in a day or two. If your testosterone level is from 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL), it means you do not have testosterone deficiency. Testosterone concentration below 300 ng/dL indicates you have low testosterone. Your doctor may run another test to confirm you really have this issue.

    Once the issue is diagnosed, your doctor will first tell you to change your lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle has a positive influence on testosterone levels. Doing exercise regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, relieving stress, and eating a balanced diet are some of the natural ways that help people bring their testosterone levels back.

    If changing your lifestyle does not help you with testosterone levels, your doctor may have to start a testosterone boosting treatment. This treatment is designed for each patient based on their specific needs. Men can have low testosterone due to multiple reasons, so your treatment is designed based on the cause of your low testosterone.

    Testosterone medication

    Testosterone medication is used to help people with low testosterone increase their testosterone levels. These medications are available in different forms and can be administered in the body in different ways. Popular routes of testosterone medication delivery are:

    • Mouth (oral medication)
    • Muscles (injections)
    • Skin (creams, gels, and patches)

    Though the main goal of each form of medication is to increase testosterone levels, they may have different effects and work differently. Some forms show immediate results, while others may take more time than others.

    Testosterone gels and creams are well-known medications people use. Let’s read the effects, benefits, and disadvantages of each.

    Testosterone gel

    Testosterone gel is designed for external use and contains testosterone. It comes in different doses, so patients can choose the dose according to their testosterone level. It is applied to the skin, and then it gets absorbed into the bloodstream, from where it becomes available to tissues for use.

    How to use it?

    Testosterone gel is applied to a selected skin part every day. Most people apply it on the shoulders, upper arms or abdomen according to their doctor’s instructions.

    Clean and dry your skin before applying the gel, so it does not react with any other chemical already present on your skin. After applying testosterone gel, cover the area with your clothes, so the gel does not stick to any other thing/surface when your skin comes in contact with it. Wash your hands to not accidentally spread the gel on someone else.

    Wait for the gel to dry fully, and then cover it with your shirt. Avoid certain activities such as swimming, showering and exercising for 2 to 5 hours after applying the gel. This will give the medication enough time to absorb into the bloodstream.

    Things to remember

    • Do not apply it on the scrotum because it contains alcohol which can irritate sensitive scrotum skin.
    • Read manufacturer’s instructions before using any product.
    • Make sure you do not apply the gel on broken skin as it can irritate the wound.
    • Do not change medication doses on your own. Ask your doctor to guide you the right way.
    • Use the medication every day to get the best results. If you miss one dose, apply it whenever you remember.
    • Avoid misusing testosterone gel as it can cause certain side effects, including heart disease, liver problems, mood changes, and improper bone growth.
    • Testosterone gel is flammable so let it dry before you go near an open flame.

    Pros

    • Testosterone gels are easy to use. You can apply them on your own.
    • It is a painless way of increasing testosterone levels.
    • It releases testosterone into the bloodstream at a constant rate, not rapidly as happens when you use testosterone injections.

    Cons

    • You have to wait for several hours to engage in vigorous exercise after testosterone gel application.
    • It may be poorly absorbed into the skin due to sweating.

    Testogel

    Testogel is a common transdermal gel having 50 mg of testosterone in a 5 g sachet. It is also available in an 88ml metered dose pump bottle. Your doctor will tell you how much of this gel you should use every day to get the best possible results while avoiding side effects.

    People notice steady testosterone concentration on the second day of the application. Your doctor may ask you to have your serum testosterone levels tested on the third day of the treatment to adjust the dose according to the way your body is reacting.

    If test results show testosterone levels higher than the desired levels, your doctor will ask you to reduce the medication dose. In contrast, if your testosterone level is low after two days of the application, your doctor will ask you to increase the dose accordingly.

    Precautions

    • It may react with certain oral medications. Therefore, inform your doctor about medication if you are taking any.
    • It is not suitable for men who have/had prostate cancer or breast cancer.

    Testosterone cream

    Testosterone creams contain varying doses of testosterone with a base compound. They work just like gels, meaning testosterone enters the blood through your skin.

    Its application process is the same as the application process of gel that we have described above. Testosterone creams generally do not have alcohol, making them suitable for scrotum skin.

    Doctors generally recommend men apply these creams on the scrotum or inner things that have thin and permeable skin. Studies also indicate that applying testosterone to the scrotum shows eight times higher bioavailable testosterone levels than when the testosterone is applied elsewhere. [1]

    Use this medication according to your doctor’s instructions. Make sure you read the instructions written on the product to avoid accidents or certain side effects.

    Pros

    • It delivers a steady, slow amount of testosterone.
    • There is no need to have follow-up sessions after a week since you can apply the cream on your own.
    • It is an effective alternative for men who do not like injections.

    Cons

    • You have to apply the cream every day, which some people may find tiring.
    • People who come into contact with the application skin site may experience some side effects.
    • It takes up to an hour to dry.

    Testosterone injections

    Testosterone injections are considered one of the earliest forms of testosterone medication. Your doctor will inject a particular testosterone dose into your muscles, which will soon become available in the bloodstream.

    You may have to get one injection per one or two weeks depending on the injection dose. If the dose is higher, the duration between two sessions will be more compared to when the dose is low. When you get injections less frequently, your testosterone levels are very high on day one, and the level decreases gradually until the next session, making you experience different effects.

    Pros

    • It shows a rapid increase in testosterone levels.
    • Unlike creams and gels, you do not have to get injections every day.
    • You do not have to wait for hours to exercise.
    • It minimises testosterone loss through absorption.

    Cons

    • You may develop scar tissue.
    • Since the needle is used, we can say the process is slightly painful.
    • You need frequent follow-up sessions.

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    Summary

    Testosterone gels and creams are effective medications men use to boost their testosterone levels and get rid of the low T symptoms. You should use these forms of testosterone medication according to your doctor’s advice so you can avoid their side effects and enjoy maximum results.

    References/Bibliography/Scholary Text/Further Reading/Study Material/Scientific Studies 

    1. Iyer, R., Mok, S.F., Savkovic, S., Turner, L., Fraser, G., Desai, R., Jayadev, V., Conway, A.J. and Handelsman, D.J., 2017. Pharmacokinetics of testosterone cream applied to scrotal skin. Andrology, 5(4), pp.725-731.
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    Evidence Based Research

    This article has been researched and written based on scientific evidence and fact sheets that have then been crossed checked by our team of doctors and subject matter experts.

    References, sources and studies used alongside our own in-house research have been cited below, most of which contain external clickable links to reviewed scientific paper that contain date stamped evidence.

    Our team of healthcare experts and GMC registered doctors are licensed to UK GMC standards. We strive to provide you with the latest evidence based, researched articles that are unbiased, honest and provide you with accurate insights, statistics and helpful information on the discussed topic to ensure you gain a better understanding of the subject.

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    About the Author: Mike Kocsis

    Mike Kocsis has an MBA with a focus on healthcare administration and is an entrepreneur and medical case manager for Balance My Hormones Ltd which offers medical services in the UK and Europe. Mike has over 20 years of experience in the healthcare sector, much of that working with people who have hormone imbalances. Mike has appeared on podcasts and radio and is an expert speaker on the subject of hormone imbalance. He specialises in Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) and Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and has helped thousands of people suffering from hormone imbalances recover and regain control of their lives. You can follow him on LinkedIn and on the Balance My Hormones YouTube Channel.

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    Last update: April 28th, 2022

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