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Compounded Percutaneous Testosterone Gel: Use And Effects in Hypogonadal Men

Christopher B. Cutter, MD
Background: Current methods of testosterone replacement therapy are limited to fixed-dosage patches and depot injections. Neither of these methods provides ideal therapy because of the inflexibility of dosing and other nuisance problems associated with the patches and nonphysiologic hormone levels when depot injections are used. Testosterone gels offer the potential for convenience and ease of administration, as well as flexible dosing regimens, by means of a simple topical application. Methods: Ten hypogonadal men were selected from the author’s general practice, ranging in age from 44 to 77 years. Four of these men had newly diagnosed and 6 had preexisting hypogonadism. Patients were withdrawn from their previous hormone therapy (where applicable), and baseline laboratory studies were obtained for total testosterone, free testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, estradiol, luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, complete blood counts, lipid panels, and chemistry panels. The patients then started taking increasing dosages of the testosterone gel until physiologic levels of testosterone were realized or until the study period (6 weeks) was concluded. There was no blinding, and each patient served as his own control. Testosterone and free testosterone levels were monitored weekly, and estradiol and dihydrotestosterone less frequently. At the conclusion of the study, all the baseline laboratory tests were repeated. A questionnaire evaluating the psychosexual well-being of the patients was administered before and after the treatment period. Results: The average total testosterone level rose from 136 ng/dL to 442.9 ng/dL (P < .001). Average free testosterone levels rose from 34.2 pg/mL to 120.3 pg/mL (P < .001). Average dihydrotestosterone
levels rose from 20.5 to 199.2 ng/dL (P 5 .006). Average estradiol levels rose only slightly from 34.1
pg/mL to 40.0 pg/mL P 5 .191). Average total androgens (testosterone plus dihydrotestosterone) rose in all patients to therapeutic levels, from 149.3 ng/dL to 642.1 ng/dL (P 5 .001). The ratio of total androgen to estradiol rose from 5.1 to 17.1 (P < .002). Luteinizing hormone was suppressed in the 6 patients for whom meaningful data were available, and decreased on average from 5.66 to 1.10 mIU/mL (P 5 .005) Lipid effects were measured, and a 15% drop in all cholesterol fractions was noted (P < .005). Evaluation of the questionnaire showed considerable improvements in sexual function and overall well-being in all but 1 patient. No adverse effects or nuisance problems were detected during the duration of the study.
Conclusion: Topically applied testosterone gels are an effective and convenient means of hormone
replacement in hypogonadal men.

References : (J Am Board Fam Pract 2001;14:22–32.)