Axiron and AndroGel are brand names for synthetic (man-made) testosterone that can be used to treat low testosterone levels.
These drugs are both clear, topical medications. The main difference between the brands is the location on your body where you apply each drug. Slight differences between the forms and strengths may make one option more convenient for you.
Testosterone is a male hormone that stimulates the development of certain biological traits. These include:
- sex drive
- hair growth
- the development of muscle mass and strength
Low testosterone levels can affect all these traits, and it can also lead to depression in some men.
Decreased testosterone levels are a natural part of aging in men. Low testosterone levels can also occur for a variety of other reasons, though. In these cases, your doctor may decide that treatment is appropriate.
Axiron and AndroGel are both medications that can help increase your testosterone levels. Both drugs contain the same active ingredient, but the forms, strengths, and application methods for these two drugs differ slightly. You also need to take precautions to avoid drug transference when using either drug.
Both products are topical drugs, meaning you apply them to your skin. Do not apply either medication to your genitals, chest, or back. If you apply your medication to any of these places, the right amount of the drug might not be absorbed. Always wash your hands thoroughly after applying either drug.
Avoid swimming, washing, or heavy sweating for up to six hours after applying AndroGel 1% strength. For AndroGel 1.62% strength and for Axiron, avoid these activities for up to two hours after applying.
Axiron is a clear solution in a pump bottle that gives 30 milligrams (mg) per pump. It comes with an application cap that you use to apply the solution. You can pump the solution into the cap. You should apply one dose of Axiron each day to your armpit area. The skin in your armpit area is relatively thin. The medication can quickly absorb through your skin and then into your bloodstream.
When you’ve applied Axiron, rub it in using the application cap, not your fingers. Touching the solution directly as you apply it can cause too much of the medication to be absorbed into your bloodstream. It can also make it easier for you to transfer the drug to someone else. You should rinse and dry the cap after each application and also wash your hands with soap and water.
You will get the best results if you apply the Axiron at the same time each day, right after showering. If you use deodorant, apply it before you apply Axiron.
AndroGel is a clear gel. The pump dispenses a single dose of 12.5 or 20.25 mg each time you depress it. The gel packets come in one or two doses in the following strengths:
- 20.25 mg
- 25 mg
- 40.5 mg
- 50 mg
You apply one dose each day to your shoulders, upper arms, or abdomen. Apply AndroGel with the palm of your hand and massage it in.
For best results
- Wash your hands with soap and water after applying AndroGel.
- Allow the gel to dry before you get dressed.
- Cover the application site with clothing.
- Wait two hours after you use AndroGel before you apply deodorant.
You can accidentally transfer either drug to someone else if you touch them after applying it. If you’ll have skin-to-skin contact with someone, make sure that they don’t touch the application site until you’ve washed it with soap and water. It’s especially important to avoid transferring testosterone to women or children.
These drugs are anabolic steroids. They can cause harmful physical and psychological effects. Women who come in contact with testosterone treatments may develop acne and male characteristics, such as increased body and facial hair. Children who are routinely exposed to Axiron or AndroGel may show aggressive behavior or experience early puberty or swelling of the genitals.
Both AndroGel and Axiron can cause the same side effects. Some side effects are mild and will go away on their own after your body gets used to the medicine.
Skin irritation at the application site is a common side effect. Others may include:
- increased acne
- headaches, especially at the start of treatment
- diarrhea, especially at the start of treatment
- increased blood lipids, which require lab testing by a doctor
Muscle aching or back pain can also occur. However, it is rare.
More serious side effects are rare, but they can include:
- mood swings
- breathing problems or signs of an allergy to the drug
- blood clots
- swelling of the ankles or legs, which may indicate a blood clot or heart failure
- long-lasting or frequent erections
- trouble urinating
Trouble urinating can be a sign of an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer. Testosterone therapy may increase your prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels and cause prostatitis, which is inflammation of your prostate.
It’s important to let you doctor know if any of these severe side effects occur.
Study results reported in Clinical Endocrinology suggest that topical medications such as Axiron and AndroGel are safe and effective for increasing testosterone levels and improving the quality of life in men who have low testosterone levels. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cautions users that testosterone therapy could increase the risks of heart attack and stroke in some people. The FDA encourages men to undergo health monitoring while using these products.
Axiron and AndroGel work in similar ways to boost testosterone levels. The main difference is the part of the body where they’re applied and the amount of time before you can get the application site wet. If you have sensitive skin, you may react better to AndroGel because you can rotate among several application sites to prevent skin irritation.
Regardless of which medication you use for low testosterone, always use the drug as directed. Research your options before you begin treatment, and discuss any concerns about the medication with your doctor. Your doctor may have other reasons to choose one drug over the other.
Are there any medications that I should avoid while on Axiron or AndroGel?
There are three types of prescription drugs that have major interactions with both Axiron and AndroGel and should therefore be avoided:
• Insulin: Testosterone can lower blood sugar, which can affect the amount of insulin needed.
• Blood thinners: Testosterone can increase the effects of blood thinners.
• Steroids: The interaction between testosterone and steroids can cause fluid buildup, particularly if you have heart, kidney, or liver disease.