Millions of American men suffer from low T or decreased testosterone levels. The symptoms include a decrease in libido or sex drive, lethargy, decrease muscle mass, decrease in bone density, and even depression.
Treatment options include injections of testosterone, which can be done at the doctor’s office or by the man in his own home, testosterone gels, which are applied every day to the skin, and testosterone pellets or Testopel. Testopel is the only FDA-approved testosterone treatment on market designed to continually deliver testosterone for 4 – 6 months.
The three treatment options include injections of testosterone every two to three weeks, topical gels, and injections of pellets or Testopel under the skin which will last for 4-6 months.
The pellets are inserted under the skin using a local anesthetic. The procedure takes approximately 10-15 minutes for the insertion process. The procedure requires the creation of a small opening in the buttocks area and using a special insertion device to insert from 9-12 pellets. The number of pellets is dependent upon the testosterone level.
Testopel is contraindicated in men with an elevated PSA or who have an abnormal digital rectal exam.
Men have to discontinue the use of any blood thinners such as aspirin, Plavix, Coumadin, and even fish oil prior to the insertion of the pellets.
There is a small possibility that the pellets may exit the insertion site and that the insertion site may become inflamed and require the use of antibiotics.
There may be a small amount of pain at the injection site which can usually be controlled with Advil or Tylenol. The pain can also be reduced by applying ice to the insertion site.
It is important to understand that men receiving Testopel will need to monitor their PSA, blood counts, testosterone levels, and possibly his liver functions on a regular basis.
Men with breast cancer should not use Testopel. In patients with breast cancer, Testopel may cause elevated calcium levels in the blood.
Men who have or might have prostate cancer or have had an adverse reaction should not use Testopel .
Men treated with Testopel may be at an increased risk for developing an enlarged prostate and prostatic cancer.
Swelling of the ankles, feet, or body with or without heart failure may be a serious problem in patients treated with Testopel who have heart, kidney, or liver disease. In addition to your doctor stopping treatment with Testopel, your doctor may need you to take a medicine known as a diuretic
It is also a possibility that gynecomastia (enlarged breasts in men) frequently develops and occasionally persists in patients being treated for hypogonadism
Because Testopel pellets are placed under the skin it is more difficult for your doctor to change the dosage compared to medicines taken by mouth or medicines injected into the muscle (intramuscular injection). Surgical removal may be required if treatment with Testopel needs to be stopped.
In addition, there are times when the Testopel pellets may come out of the skin
While taking Testopel, your doctor may periodically do tests to check for liver damage. Your doctor may also check for increased red blood cells if you are receiving high doses of Testopel
Side effects of Testopel include more erections than normal or erections that last a long time, nausea, vomiting, changes in skin color, ankle swelling, changes in body hair, male pattern baldness, acne, suppression of certain clotting factors, bleeding in patients on blood thinners, increase in libido, headache, anxiety, depression, inflammation and pain at the implantation site and rarely anaphylactoid reaction (a sudden onset of allergic reaction)
Bottom Line: Androgen or testosterone deficiency is a common problem in middle age and older men. Help is available and Testopel is one solution.