AndroGel: Great News for Men Suffering from Low Testosterone
Hypogonadism, a deficiency in the reproductive system that results in a lack of function of the gonads and produces low testosterone in men, affects more than 13 million men in the United States age 45 years and older. This condition results in defective sexual development in the primary or secondary stage, as well as infertility. The signs and symptoms of hypogonadism are subtle and often overlap with other medical conditions, thus it is not easily detected and is left undiagnosed. Symptoms of hypogonadism may include fatigue, depressed mood, low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, increased fat body mass, decreased bone mineral density, and reduced muscle mass and strength. Chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity, asthma/COPD, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure also increase the risk for low testosterone in men. Low testosterone levels can be confirmed by a blood test.
Treatment of low testosterone
Hypogonadism can be treated by increasing testosterone levels in the hypogonadal male, called testosterone therapy, and bringing it to the normal physiological range. AndroGel, the first Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved testosterone gel is the most prescribed form of testosterone therapy available for adult males in the US. Approved in 2000, AndroGel is available in a clear odorless, topical testosterone gel with a non-aerosol metered-dose pump, used once-daily for hormone replacement therapy in men ages 18 and above, for conditions related to the absence of endogenous testosterone.
Additional benefits of AndroGel
Besides being the most prescribed testosterone therapy, AndroGel also provides various benefits for male patients, including improved mood, sexual function, and muscle strength; decreased body fat; and increased lean body mass. According to pivotal study data conducted by the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, AndroGel is effective in restoring testosterone to normal levels and in some cases, may be superior to other forms of testosterone therapy such as transdermal testosterone patches. Comparably, AndroGel also has higher compliance rates due to minimal skin irritation. The study also shows that initial treatment response of men with hypogonadism had similar effects regardless of weight and body mass index (BMI). In a 2004 open-label study, AndroGel was also found to be safe for men even for long term use. AndroGel is available in 1.25, 2.5, and 5 gram packets, with the pump designed to deliver the exact grams of testosterone gel per pump depression.
Precautions in using AndroGel
AndroGel should not be used by those with prostate cancer or breast cancer. It is also not recommended for women who are pregnant, expecting to be pregnant, or breastfeeding because testosterone may cause harm to the fetus. The major risks of AndroGel include prostate cancer, prostate enlargement, and transfer of testosterone to others through skin-to-skin contact. Transferring testosterone to women and children may cause serious harm to them. Transference can be minimized by covering the application site with clothing and washing the hands after application. The most common reported side effects of AndroGel include skin irritation, acne, breast tenderness or development, prostate enlargement, changes in urinary habits, and changes in lab test results. Because of these complications, treatment of hypogonadism should be prescribed by a physician.
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