7 Unwanted Side Effects of Testosterone Cream
Testosterone is a male hormone that is mainly produced in the testicles. It helps in the development of sex organs, sperm, and sex drive. The hormone also helps maintain classic male characteristics like muscle strength and mass, facial and body hair, and deep vocal tones. A man’s testosterone levels normally peak in early adulthood and gradually decrease with age.
Topical testosterone is used to treat men who have hypogonadism, a condition that interferes with a man’s ability to produce testosterone. Topical testosterone can be helpful to men with hypogonadism, but for some, it comes with unwanted side effects.
The most common side effects of topical testosterone cream are related to the urinary tract. Some men develop the need to urinate a lot more than usual, including during the night. You may feel an urgent need to urinate, even when your bladder isn’t full.
Other symptoms include difficulty urinating and blood in the urine. If you’re using a testosterone cream and have urinary trouble, consult with your doctor.
Since testosterone creams are applied directly to the skin, some men develop a skin reaction at the application site. Symptoms may include:
- dry skin
Make sure you always apply the medication on clean, unbroken skin. Follow application directions carefully and report any skin reactions to your doctor.
Lower levels of testosterone in relation to the hormone estrogen can cause enlarged breasts (gynecomastia) in men. It’s rare, but use of testosterone creams can result in unwanted changes to the breasts. Some men report breast:
If you’re concerned about changes to your breasts, see your doctor right away.
Feeling Out of Sorts
Use of testosterone creams can leave you feeling a bit out of sorts. Some infrequent reported symptoms include dizziness, lightheadedness, or faintness. Occasionally, testosterone treatment can lead to hot flushes or pounding in the ears.
These symptoms may be fleeting and can disappear on their own. If they continue to be a problem, consult with your doctor.
Most men tolerate testosterone treatment quite well, but a small number develop emotional side effects. These include rapid mood swings and emotional overreaction to everyday situations. Nervousness, anxiety, crying, paranoia, and depression have also been reported. Although emotional side effects are rare, they can be serious. Be sure to discuss any noticeable symptoms with your doctor.
Testosterone generally improves a man’s sex life. In fact, testosterone levels tend to rise in men who are sexually active, while they drop in men who are not. In rare cases, testosterone therapy can adversely affect sexuality. This may include loss of desire, inability to have or maintain an erection, or erections that happen too often and overstay their welcome.
Don’t Touch Me!
Testosterone creams can cause side effects in others who come into contact with it on your skin or clothing. Women may have unwanted hair growth or acne. It’s particularly dangerous for pregnant women, as testosterone can cause birth defects.
Children may develop aggressive behavior, enlarged genitals, and pubic hair. Women and children who are exposed to testosterone products should contact their doctor.
Don’t allow skin-to-skin contact with other people. Keep the area covered or wash it well before letting others touch you. Take special care with bedding and clothing, which may contain testosterone.
Points to Ponder
Testosterone is a powerful prescription medication that should only be used under doctor supervision. As with any medication, there could be other side effects as well. Some may clear up on their own, but some may require medical attention.
Be sure to tell your doctor if you have any other health conditions, including diabetes, allergies, prostate cancer, or heart disease. List other over-the-counter and prescription medications and supplements that you are taking, and ask your pharmacist about potential drug interactions.
Report all side effects to your doctor.
- Gynecomastia (enlarged breasts in men). (2010, December 21). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved December 5, 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/gynecomastia/DS00850/DSECTION=causes.
- Testosterone (Topical Application Route). (2011, November 11). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved December 3, 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/drug-information/DR603099/DSECTION=side-effects.
- Testosterone therapy: Key to male vitality? (2013, July 13). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved December 5, 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/testosterone-therapy/MC00030.
- Testosterone topical. (2011, July 5). University of Michigan Health System. Retrieved December 5, 2013, from http://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/d00558n1.
- Testosterone Topical. (2009, July 1). MedlinePlus, National Institutes of Health. Retrieved December 5, 2013, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a605020.html