The Most Common Adverse Effects of Testosterone Therapy

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Testosterone loss in men can be a very difficult thing. It causes many symptoms that men find uncomfortable and that lower enjoyment of life. These can include erectile dysfunction, lack of energy, sleeplessness, and depression. One of the most common treatments for this is testosterone therapy. It can mitigate for some of these symptoms, but sometimes the therapy creates symptoms of its own. Here is a look at some of the most common side effects of testosterone supplementation:

Changes to Medical Lab Tests
Not all side effects can be easily felt, but they can reflect on laboratory tests. These can include an increase in the blood's lipid levels like cholesterol and triglycerides. Red blood cell counts can increase, while sperm counts can decrease. In men of reproductive age who are trying to have children, this may result in difficulty conceiving or infertility. An increased level of the prostate specific antigen, or PSA, used to detect early prostate cancer is common as well.

Life Threatening Side Effects
On the severe side, increased risk of heart attack and stroke are common when undergoing testosterone therapy. That increase may be large or small, depending on the initial health levels of the person who does the therapy. The risk of blood clots increase, which may require additional medication to mitigate or limit activities like airline flight. If you have sleep apnea, which is a condition that causes you to temporarily stop breathing while you are asleep, your condition can worsen. This leads to an increased risk, particularly when alcohol is consumed, of dying in your sleep without proper sleep apnea treatments. An increased chance of prostate cancer is also a possibility.

Other Side Effects
Many of the other side effects of testosterone therapy are embarrassing or unpleasant but not life threatening. Many of these symptoms are commonly linked to steroid use, as testosterone is one of the body's steroid hormones. Acne and increased oily skin are common. Fluid retention or bloat in body tissues is also common. Urinary changes due to prostate enlargement may occur. Breast enlargement may also occur. Increased aggression may happen, and require some training as to how to control. On the other side, moodiness and depression may also be a symptom. Testicular size may shrink as well.

Deciding if it's Worth It
One of the most important parts about deciding on testosterone therapy is knowing whether the side effects are worth it. This is usually not the case if you are someone who falls into the high risk category in regard to life threatening risks. Heart conditions, a history of blood clots or a history of breast or prostate cancer are all things that will usually disqualify someone from therapy. In regard to the less life threatening side effects, it becomes a question of whether your life is better with or without the therapy, and which version of yourself makes you more comfortable.


Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "The Most Common Adverse Effects of Testosterone Therapy," in, January 9, 2016, (accessed October 4, 2022).