Risks of testosterone treatment

Testosterone is a potentially dangerous hormone for any man. Risk factors associated with testosterone are the same for all men with testosterone in their bodies, regardless what sex they were identified at birth.

A male gender identity does not protect you against the risks of testosterone.

The good news is, you can minimise these dangers by keeping an eye on your health. Like any other man you need to have regular medical checkups (that include a multiple analysis blood screen and lipid profile).

The ‘normal’ testosterone range for healthy, young adult men (identified male at birth) is considered to be between approximately 8 and 27 nM. In comparison, the testosterone range of a healthy, young adult female is between approximately 0.4 to 1.9 nM.

When you begin testosterone treatment you will increase your level of testosterone over ten times. Your GP and endocrinologist should be comparing your testosterone levels other  healthy, young adult men (identified male at birth) of your same age.

Over years on treatment, your body will adjust gradually to the new level of testosterone and will change your hormonal morphology to that of a physiological male. It won’t happen in the first year or two. Eventually, your body will function within the usual male health parameters – including the usual risk factors.

For health maintenance, it is best to assume that your risk is no worse than that of any other male of similar age and health status.

Testosterone (androgen) treatment –

  • reduces HDL (good) cholesterol, increases LDL (bad) cholesterol and increases triglycerides in the blood lipid profile;
  • has an unfavourable effect on the lipid profile;
  • redistributes fat toward abdominal obesity, which is associated with an increased cardiovascular risk;
  • can cause weight gain; and
  • the most significant risk factor is smoking (further increases cardiovascular risk).

Risk factors of testosterone for all men include –

  • higher cholesterol and associated blood vessel diseases;
  • a higher risk of a heart attack or stroke;
  • decreased elastin in the blood vessels leading to an increased inflexibility of your blood vessel walls;
  • an increased chance of developing tumours, blood clots, heart disease or other serious illnesses;
  • potential liver damage for men on oral (by mouth) testosterone; and
  • it is possible that testosterone shortens a man’s life expectancy by about five years (compared to women).

Click here to learn the two main ways to reduce your risks associated with testosterone.