Senior Health Home > Precautions and Warnings With Testosterone Gel
Before using testosterone gel, warnings and precautions should be fully discussed with your healthcare provider. For example, you may not be able to use the gel if you have certain medical conditions, such as heart disease, prostate cancer, or infertility. Safety concerns with testosterone gel also apply to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider Before Using Testosterone Gel?You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking testosterone gel (AndroGel®, Fortesta™, Testim®) if you have:
- Heart disease
- Liver disease, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, or liver failure
- Kidney disease, such as kidney failure (renal failure)
- Sleep apnea
- Prostate cancer
- Breast cancer
- An enlarged prostate (also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH)
- Any allergies, including allergies to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
- Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
Specific Precautions and Warnings for Testosterone GelSome warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking testosterone gel include the following:
- Testosterone gel is considered a pregnancy Category X medication. This means that it is definitely not safe for use during pregnancy (see AndroGel and Pregnancy, Fortesta and Pregnancy, or Testim and Pregnancy).
- This medication is not approved for use in women. It has not been adequately studied in women and can cause virilization (the development of male characteristics, such as a deep voice or body hair) in women. Other signs of virilization include acne, early development of pubic hair in children, or abnormal changes in genital size in children.
- Testosterone gel can rub off onto others with skin-to-skin contact, even hours after it is applied (it stays on the surface of the skin until washed off). Take measures to avoid exposing women and children to the drug, as virilization of women or children may occur.
If skin-to-skin contact is anticipated (such as for sexual intercourse), you should wash the area thoroughly before any contact occurs. If accidental contact occurs, the woman or child should wash their skin immediately to remove any of the medication that may have been transferred.
- Let your healthcare provider know if any women or children who may have come into direct or indirect contact with the gel have signs of virilization. You should stop taking testosterone gel until the exact cause of the virilization can be determined to prevent further potential contact.
- Testosterone gel can cause or worsen an enlarged prostate. It also appears to increase the risk of prostate cancer. Your healthcare provider should evaluate you for prostate cancer before you start the medication and periodically thereafter.
- This medication can potentially decrease sperm count, thereby decreasing fertility (although it can also help with certain causes of infertility related to low testosterone levels). Consult your healthcare provider if you experience difficulty conceiving a child while using this product.
- Androgens can increase the risk of liver problems, including liver cancer. Although these problems have not been reported with testosterone gel, they cannot be completely ruled out.
- Androgens can cause fluid retention, which can be dangerous for people with liver, heart, or kidney disease.
- Breast enlargement can occur in men taking testosterone gel.
- The medicine can worsen (or possibly even cause) sleep apnea.
- Testosterone gel can potentially interact with a few other medications (see Drug Interactions With Testosterone Gel).
- This medication is not safe for use during breastfeeding (see AndroGel and Breastfeeding, Fortesta and Breastfeeding, or Testim and Breastfeeding).