Sexual Health

What To Know About Testosterone Injections

Testosterone is a sex hormone abundant in the male body.

In men, the hormone plays several crucial roles that contribute to the overall well-being of the body.

While the presence of the testosterone hormone is primarily associated with the development of male characteristics during puberty1, there are many other roles that the hormone plays too.

Adequate levels of testosterone are essential for the maintenance of bone health and play a role in the entire musculoskeletal system. The hormone also has a role to play in heart health and cognitive functioning.

Low testosterone in men can lead to several potential problems. However, there are treatments available to reduce the effect that this condition has on the body.

We discuss the use of testosterone injections in this post and consider both the benefits and risks associated with this treatment.

What Are Testosterone Injections?

Testosterone injections are sometimes provided to patients as part of a therapy program to assist in restoring adequate levels of testosterone.

These injections are sold under a variety of brand names, including Testosterone Cypionate and Testosterone Enanthate. These injections are mainly used in adult men.

Testosterone injections will often be provided when a medical condition has developed as a result of the low testosterone. Several conditions may qualify a male patient for the use of testosterone injections, including certain genetic disorders.

In some cases, men who have problems with the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus, particularly when this affects the level of testosterone circulating through their bloodstream, may be provided with these injections as well.

Some men who have undergone chemotherapy in the past, such as following prostate or breast cancer, might also be given injections when testosterone production has been adversely affected in their body.

Treating Low Testosterone In Men

Due to the importance that testosterone plays in the male body, men with a low level of the sex hormone should consider opting for appropriate treatment.

The first step, however, is for the man to recognize the signs that are associated with low testosterone.

A low level of testosterone in the male body may yield the following potential symptoms:

  • Changes in sexual function. This may include a low sex drive, which may contribute to erectile dysfunction symptoms.

  • Certain changes to the physical appearance of the body – this may consist of a reduction in lean muscle mass, along with an increase in body fat.

  • As lean muscle mass in the male body declines, there may also be a reduction in the physical strength of the patient.

  • Men with sleep apnea may experience a worsening of their symptoms.

  • There may be adverse effects on the patient’s emotional well-being. This may include a decrease in motivation. Symptoms associated with depression may also manifest.

  • Sleeping patterns may also change, possibly leading to insomnia, as well as other types of sleep disturbances.

Intramuscular injections that contain testosterone are not the only way that low testosterone in men can be treated.

Men may also be provided with the following alternative options to assist in restoring a higher level of testosterone:

  • Testosterone gel

  • Testosterone patch

  • Mucoadhesive dental material

  • Pellets (also injected underneath the skin)

Types Of Testosterone Injections

The first factor that the patient should be made aware of is that different forms of these injections may be used.

Each type of testosterone injection that may be utilized differs – and they all come with a specific set of advantages and potential drawbacks.

These are the two most commonly used types of testosterone injections:

  • Testosterone enanthate

  • Testosterone cypionate

Both of these are modified versions of testosterone hormones and are produced in a laboratory setting. The production of both options includes the addition of a carboxylic acid ester to a specific group found in testosterone, known as the 17-beta-hydroxyl group.

This is a type of testosterone absorbed slowly into the body. The half-lives of both drugs are also longer compared to many other types of testosterone products that can be used.

The result is a single injection that can provide a steady release of testosterone into the patient’s blood circulatory system for a period between one and two weeks.

What You Should Know Before Having Testosterone Injections

There are a few factors that men should be aware of before they decide to undergo testosterone therapy.

There are strict criteria used to determine if a male patient is a good subject for this particular treatment option.

Men need to realize that testosterone injections should never be used as a way to enhance their athletic performance or gain better muscle strength in particular.

The product should also not be used for any other purposes that do not fall within its prescription guidelines. This may lead to several potential side-effects and risks.

For example, even though testosterone has a vital role to play in heart health, the inappropriate use of these injections could yield a cardiovascular risk in the male patient.

Due to the significant restriction in criteria that qualifies a male patient for testosterone injections, it is often advised that men instead consider an alternative option, such as transdermal testosterone or patches, to reduce the risks associated with the treatment.

Even though not listed as a drug for ED, the use of testosterone therapy may sometimes yield improvements in a person’s erectile function.

How Are Testosterone Injections Given?

The administration of a testosterone injection is usually considered a relatively simple process. However, patients should ensure the procedure is only done by a licensed and experienced healthcare professional. When the injection is not done correctly, it could lead to potential problems.

The injection is made directly into a muscle in the patient’s body. This helps with the absorption of the hormone. The slow release of testosterone will last for up to four weeks, depending on the type of injection used and the dose.

Men will need to return to healthcare professionals to get a new injection at specific intervals. These intervals will generally range between two and four weeks. This is the amount of time it will take for the previous injection to be absorbed entirely into the body.

Are Testosterone Injections Safe?

In healthy men who simply need an increase in testosterone levels, the use of these injections is generally considered relatively safe. There are, however, several precautions that male patients need to be aware of.

Some men should not obtain this injection at all. This includes those who suffer from a severe condition that affects the heart. Men with liver or kidney disease that is severe should also avoid the use of testosterone injection.

A doctor will also assess other factors of the patient before deciding if testosterone will be a safe treatment option for them. This includes whether the man has coronary artery disease and if they had suffered a heart attack or stroke in the past.

Men with diabetes, an enlarged prostate, and those with a high cholesterol level may also be more likely to experience risks when using testosterone injection.

Possible Side Effects

The testosterone injection itself may cause some potential side-effects in the male patient.

This may include a red rash, as well as swelling, in the area where the injection is made.

It is also possible to experience pain in the area.

These symptoms will usually go away after a few days, however. There is, of course, a risk of infection, too. Although this is rare, men should still ensure they follow appropriate care instructions to avoid the injection site from becoming infected.

One of the most serious side-effects that have been associated with testosterone injections would be a blood clot that forms in the patient’s lungs.

Patients need to be wary of symptoms like

  • Trouble breathing

  • A throat that feels tight

  • An urge to constantly cough

  • Chest pain

  • Dizziness – especially if these occur soon after the injection was administered.

Conclusion

A low level of testosterone in the male body can lead to a number of complications, including sexual dysfunction, poor bone health, and a decline in sperm count.

Men with signs of low testosterone levels should consider undergoing testosterone therapy to assist in restoring adequate levels of the hormone in their body.

The use of testosterone replacement therapy may yield effective results. However, there are certain risks that male patients need to be aware of as well. The pros and cons need to be weighed to help decide if injectable testosterone appropriate.

Sources

  1. StatPearls [Internet]. 2018. Physiology, Testosterone. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526128/
  2.  Reviews in Urology. 2017. Revisiting the role of testosterone: Are we missing something? [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5434832/
  3. Handelsman DJ, Hirschberg AL, Bermon S. Circulating Testosterone as the Hormonal Basis of Sex Differences in Athletic Performance. Endocr Rev. 2018;39(5):803–829. doi:10.1210/er.2018-00020
  4. Wood RI, Stanton SJ. Testosterone and sport: current perspectives. Horm Behav. 2012;61(1):147–155. doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2011.09.010
  5. Ullah MI, Riche DM, Koch CA. Transdermal testosterone replacement therapy in men. Drug Des Devel Ther. 2014;8:101–112. Published 2014 Jan 9. doi:10.2147/DDDT.S43475

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