Testosterone is a typically male hormone that’s mainly produced in the testicles. If you’re a man, it helps your body develop sex organs, sperm, and sex drive.
The hormone also helps maintain male features such as muscle strength and mass, facial and body hair, and a deepened voice. Your testosterone levels typically peak in early adulthood and slowly decrease with age.
Topical testosterone is a prescription drug that’s applied to your skin. It’s used to treat hypogonadism, a condition that prevents your body from making enough testosterone.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved topical testosterones in gel form. However, some men prefer compounded testosterone creams (where a pharmacy mixes testosterone with a creamy base), because they find them easier to use and less likely to be transferred by touch. Otherwise, the effects of gels vs. creams are not very different.
Do You Need a Topical Testosterone Gel ?
Men naturally start losing some of their testosterone when they hit their 30s or 40s. A more rapid decline in testosterone levels may indicate a problem called low testosterone (low T). Common symptoms of low T include:
- erectile dysfunction (ED)
- changes in sex drive
- decreased sperm count
- depression or anxiety
- weight gain
- hot flashes
- general fatigue or lack of energy
- loss in muscle tone
- changes in the size of your penis and/or testicles
- breast swelling
Diagnosing Low T
Some men may want to diagnose themselves with low T. The problem with self-diagnosis is that many of the symptoms of low T are normal parts of aging, so using them for diagnosis isn’t reliable.
A doctor-ordered testosterone blood test and symptom check woith a Physician is the best way to tell if your testosterone levels are too low.
When you see your doctor, they will take a thorough health history and do a physical exam. In addition to a blood test to measure your testosterone levels, you’ll also likely have a test that measures your red blood cell count.
Testosterone injections can increase your red blood cell count, so this test is done to make sure you aren’t at risk of a dangerous increase in these cells.
If your exam and tests reveal that you have low T, your doctor may suggest testosterone injections.
Benefits of Topical Testosterone Gel
The purpose of testosterone replacement therapy is to help regulate male hormone levels to help address problems related to low T. For men with low T, the benefits of this tyreatment can include:
- an increased sex drive
- improved symptoms of ED
- more energy
- improved mood
- an increased sperm count
- Fat loss
- lean muscle gain
Men generally have less body fat than women. This is partly related to testosterone, which regulates fat distribution and muscle maintenance in your body. With low T, you’ll likely notice an increase in body fat, especially around your midsection.
Your hormones also help regulate muscle growth. So, with low T, you may feel like you’re losing muscle size or strength. However, this only occurs if your low T is prolonged and severe.
Testosterone shots can help regulate fat distribution, but you shouldn’t expect significant weight changes from hormone therapy alone. As for muscle maintenance, testosterone therapy has been found to help increase muscle mass, but not strength.
The Andrology Department at Concord Hospital and ANZAC Research Institute did a study on testosterone cream applied to scrotal skin, and in their research they indicated that testosterone via transdermal delivery is an excellent method to achieve therapeutic concentrations of testosterone.
Effects on sexual interest appear after 3 weeks plateauing at 6 weeks, with no further increments expected beyond. Changes in erections/ejaculations may require up to 6 months. Effects on quality of life manifest within 3–4 weeks, but maximum benefits take longer.