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The current status of therapy for symptomatic late-onset hypogonadism with transdermal testosterone gel.

For over 50 years, testosterone therapy has been used for the treatment of hypogonadism. In recent years, there has been an increase in the use of testosterone therapy for men with late-onset hypogonadism, as more convenient and effective modes of application are developed. Testosterone therapy in these men can significantly improve their sense of well-being, and lead to increases in muscle and bone mass, upper body strength, virility and libido [Gruenewald, Matsumoto. J Am Geriatr Soc 2003;51:101; Morales. Aging Male 2004; in press]. However, ensuring that optimal testosterone therapy is achieved in men with hypogonadism remains challenging. Oral delivery of unmodified testosterone is not possible, due to rapid first-pass metabolism and its short half-life. Therefore, different derivatives and formulations of testosterone have been developed to enhance potency, prolong duration of action or improve bioavailability. In addition, several different routes of administration have now been evaluated, including intramuscular injections, oral formulations, transdermal patches, transbuccal systems and transdermal testosterone gel. Despite the broad range of testosterone therapy on offer, each form has its benefits and limitations, and some will suit one patient more than another. An important concern among clinicians is that testosterone therapy may cause or promote prostate cancer. While current evidence supports the safety of testosterone therapy, androgens are growth factors for pre-existing prostate cancer. Therefore, before therapy is initiated, careful digital rectal examination and determination of prostate-specific antigen ( PSA) in serum should be performed, in order to exclude evident or suspected prostate cancer. The first 3-6 months after initiating testosterone therapy is the most critical time for monitoring effects on the prostate. Therefore, it is important to monitor PSA levels every 3 months for the first year of treatment; thereafter, regular monitoring (mostly for prostate safety but also for cardiovascular and haematological safety) during therapy is mandatory.[1]


  1. The current status of therapy for symptomatic late-onset hypogonadism with transdermal testosterone gel. Ebert, T., Jockenhövel, F., Morales, A., Shabsigh, R. Eur. Urol. (2005) [Pubmed]
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