AndroGel 1.62% (testosterone gel) is a topical medication prescribed to men with low testosterone levels due to medical conditions that affect the production of the hormone in the body. While it is one of the most popular options for addressing “low T”, there are also significant risks and side effects associated with AndroGel use.
What It Does
AndroGel is an alcohol-based gel that contains synthetic testosterone. It is applied directly to the skin and provides 24-hour continuous delivery through skin absorption. This medication is prescribed in either 1.62% or 1% strengths depending on the levels of testosterone in the body.
Men apply the gel to either the shoulders and upper arms (1.62%) or both sides of the stomach and the shoulders and upper arms (1%). After application, AndroGel is absorbed into the skin, providing an increase in testosterone levels.
Risks and Secondary Exposure
AngroGel is associated with some risks and side effects for both the user and others who come in contact with the drug. Secondary exposure, which occurs if someone comes in contact with the application site can lead to problems for women and children. Young children and women who are exposed to the drug may experience early symptoms and signs of puberty, including Early onset of pubic hair developmentEnlargement of the clitoris or penis
- Increase in sex drive and/or erections
- Growth in body hair and acne
- Advanced bone age that can cause children to stop growing
Side Effects in Men
Men using AndroGel are also at risk for considerable side effects that can pose significant health hazards. These may include:
- Worsening of prostate gland enlargement
- Increased prostate cancer risk
- Increased risk of stroke or heart attack
- Blood clot formation in the lungs or legs
- Decrease in sperm count (with higher doses)
- Swelling of the body, ankles, or feet with and without heart failure
- Painful or enlarged breasts (gynecomastia)
- Sleep apnea
This drug is also associated with frequent side effects that may or may not resolve on their own within a short time of beginning the medication, or once treatment has stopped. These include:
- Increase in the prostate specific antigen that is used in prostate cancer screenings
- Severe mood swings
- Skin irritation
- Increase in red blood cell counts
- High blood pressure
- Growth in cholesterol levels
- Altered liver function test results
It is also important that any male who takes AndroGel inform his physician of all medications, especially insulin, corticosteroids and drugs that affect blood clotting. Additionally, conditions such as liver, kidney, heart, urinary and breathing problems should be reported as well.
AndroGel and Women
AndroGel is not recommended for use in women as a hormone replacement option. While women do have lower levels of testosterone that can be affected by menopause and other health conditions, there are currently no FDA-approved testosterone replacement therapies for women. However, there are physicians who may recommend the drug for off-label use, which means the usage is not FDA-approved.
AndroGel poses a significant risk for women who are currently or plan to become pregnant. It is listed as a Category X drug for pregnancy, which means that is should not be used during pregnancy or when breastfeeding. AndroGel use or contact with the application site on a male has been linked to fetal harm, including:
- Virilization – A condition in which female infants take on abnormal male characteristics
- An increase in body hair
- Decrease or increase in breast size
- Deepening of voice
If you or any children or girls were injured or adversely affected by AndroGel use, it is important that you speak to an attorney to determine if you are eligible for compensation for those injuries.