Androgel: Controversial Testosterone Topical

Androgel and Testosterone

What testosterone product has by far the most problems on The Peak Testosterone Forum? If you guessed Androgel, you’d be spot on.  Of course, Androgel is a very popular HRT delivery system, so one would expect a proportionately high number of complaints and side effects.  However, this just does not explain one simple fact:  one man after another has written in complaining that Androgel actually lowered his testosterone or raised it by just a few percentage points.

This is a scary state of affairs, because most men with low testosterone have some combination of elevated insulin, weight gain, borderline anemia, possible bone loss and erectile dysfunction.  These men usually go into their doctors desperate and in poor health and the last thing they  need is to find out several months later that their testosterone has actually gone down or remained unchanged!

This just does not happen with other delivery methods such as injections, patches or pellets (assuming any reasonable knowledge level of the physician).  But with Androgel, it appears to be shockingly common.  And, even worse, Androgel is quite expensive at this point, so some patients are paying a substantial amount out of pocket only to find their situation worsening instead of improving.

Just look at these comments and complaints below:

–“Had natural [total testosterone] production around 240, got on Androgel and it sunk to 44. Wasted a lot of time trying more gel, then a 10% compounded cream to no avail. Finally started T cypionate shots on Sept 4th. Feel a lot better!” [1]

–“After that my doctor agreed they were quite low for my age. So she put me on 1.67 androgel two pumps once a day. A month later I had another test done. Results one month later w/ Androgel two pumps a day. Testosterone 203 Low ng/dL.” [2]

–“I have been taking Androgel for the past four months by a 5.0 packet and my testosterone level is 3 and should be 6 according to my endoc doctor. The 5.0 is not increasing my level so the doctor has increase the dosage to a 7.5 packet. I rub it on my stomach and shoulders.” [3]

–“My T level was 221 and after Androgel, it only rose to 280 so my doctor prescribed (2) 4mg Androderm patches daily.” [4]

–“The regular price is $300 per 120 ml bottle. Depending on your dose that could be anywhere from 1 – 4 months.” [5]

–“Androgel was aslo a failure for me.” [6]

–“it’s that I’m paying out the nose for Androgel and seeing minimal (if any) improvement” [7]

–“The fertility doctor also works at a men’s health clinic and said Clomid hasn’t been proven safe for long-term use so we switched to Androgel. Eventually after getting to 3 pumps per day, my TT only made it to 300.” [8]

—-“Yes, I had a blood test 2 weeks after starting on 2 pumps of Androgel which came in at 218. My prior T was around 180 a week before starting the gel.” [9]

Did you know you can inexpensively do your own testing for most hormones? The industry leader is Discounted Labs..

–“Once I finally realized and tried to improve myself and seek medical help and made it through the aweful Androgel which did absolutely nothing to me, I got the correct treatment of T injections and Armidex.” [10]

–“So I had my T checked it was 140, I went to my doctor and he put me on 1% Androgel. Which I used for about 6 months, yes it worked to get my T up to 320 but not enough.” [11]

There have been even more complaints, but the above are representative.  You get the idea.  Androgel is often poorly absorbed.  Does this mean that Androgel should never be tried?  Well, of course not.  Remember that the forum will mostly get men writing in when they have problems.  And keep in mind that part of the issue could be the method of application, which we will go into below.

NOTE:  I cover many of the other methods of Hormone Replacement Therapy, including some of the more successful, such as Testosterone PelletsCompounding and Axiron.

Furthermore, it should be pointed out that the official study on Androgel showed overall very good results.  For example, here are just a few outcomes: [12]

  • a) Average total testosterone approximately double with a 5 gram dose and approximately tripled with the 10 gram dosage.  Free testosterone was also boosted very significantly.
  • b) Mood scores increased.
  • c) Sexual activity scores increased.
  • d) Erections improved.

e) Lean body mass increased and fat mass decreased.

In other words, Androgel did pretty much just what you would expect testosterone therapy to do and relieved most of the Classic Testosterone Symptoms.  However, there are indications that many men do indeed have problems, based on the standard deviations listed on a governmental Androgel fact sheet. [13] If you are taking a lower dose of Androgel, average total testosterone levels climbed to 555 ng/dl.

That’s not really that high compared to injections or pellets and, more importantly, one standard deviation was 225 ng/dl.  That means there are a lot of men below 330 ng/dl and still more below about 400 ng/dl.  If you’re hypogonadal and your physician takes you into the 330-400 range, it’s quite likely that that is not going to produce any noticeable results.  And, of course, it is these men that are writing into the forum.

So then what is the answer?  Well, of course, more Androgel undoubtedly sometimes helps.  Average testosterone levels per the above fact sheet were 555 ng/dl with 5 grams and 713 ng/dl with 10 grams.  This means 10 grams, while more expensive, will likely pull you into much more solid territory to where, even if you are a poor absorber, you stand a better chance of not falling back into lowish T levels.

Another way to possibly absorb more Androgel – and, of course, discuss this with your physician – is to consider Dr. Crisler’s method of applying the Androgel to the forearms.  Dr. Crisler, who is one of the “online HRT docs” that has been around for years, has a video where he shows how to apply Androgel without getting any onto your hands and then applying it to the forearms.  This technique makes a lot of sense because a) a significant amount of Androgel will be lost on the hands and b) the forearms are a common area recommended by compounders as being the best place for topical absorption.  See Dr. Crisler’s Androgel Video for details.  And this in contrast, by the way, with the standard recommendation to apply the gel on the upper body.

TIP?  One forum member, who has had reasonable success with Androgel, suggested the following application strategy:

“In the morning once I get done with the shower I turn on the hot water only and get my skin red and hot. I think this opens up the pores and gets skin ready to go. Then I dry off real quick and apply to my shoulders or my butt.” [14] Of course, discuss this with your doctor first.

CAUTION:  No skin-to-skin contact should ever be allowed with any topically treated area with women or children.  This can cause issues such as male pattern baldness and facial hair in women and, potentially, can negatively affect the brain and future pubertal development of younger children.  Talk to your doctor!


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