Side Effects of Testosterone Replacement part 2

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This video podcast covers the more serious side effects of testosterone replacement

In episode 154 of the BioBalance Healthcast, Brett Newcomb and I spoke of concerns that women have when they come to BioBalance Health to discuss replacing their testosterone. Those concerns were:

  • hair growth on the face
  • hair loss on the head
  • voice changes

If you missed that podcast, click here to to watch. This week our podcast will focus on other concerns or “risks” of taking testosterone replacement. A general focus on risks of treatment needs to be prefaced by the realization that it is statistically extremely rare that an individual would develop most of these side effects. Generally, women experience none, or one or two of the side effects. Most of the issues raised by the side effects tend to be cosmetic rather than health related. That is not to say that the issues are not real and powerful concerns for these women, but ultimately the discussion needs to focus on the health benefits of replacement of testosterone vs. the cosmetic side effects that a limited portion of the population might develop.

In order to help you understand the side effect issue, Brett Newcomb and I will explain both the concerns and management strategies that seem to work for most women. The concerns are:

  • development of oiliness of the skin
  • development of acne
  • enlargement of the clitoris
  • temporary hyper-sexuality
  • swelling and itching of the vagina
  • the possibility of developing liver tumors

If you were one of those women who went through puberty and had issues with oiliness and acne, you are likely to have a resurgence of those concerns. These are manageable, usually by limited doses of the medicines Spironolactone, or Finasteride.

Some women worry that replacement of testosterone will cause them to become muscular and bulk up in a masculine kind of way. This is not what happens. Actually many of them complain because they are not losing weight, what happens is that their muscles become stronger which makes them healthier, but the muscles are heavier than the fat cells. So they get better but don’t loose weight. They do not bulk up with new muscles.

There are concerns about clitoral enlargement, hyper-sexuality, and itching and swelling. These do happen in some women, not most. It depends somewhat on their age and the length of time they have been without testosterone and the blood flow that testosterone helps generate. Over time these women will progressively developed dryer and smaller vaginas. When they begin to replace their testosterone, they will lubricate and reactivate tissues that have long been without good circulation and have been unused sexually.  When blood flow and testosterone returnes it is a big adjustment and they develop itching for a few weeks, one time, and then never again. These changes are temporary in their duration. This happens once their body is restored to the youthful normal, but getting there may involve some short term discomfort.

Finally the concern about liver tumors needs to be addressed. Basically the risk only exists if you take testosterone orally, as a pill. If you do not use an oral delivery form of testosterone there is no risk of liver tumors developing.