When it comes to testosterone replacement therapy, you're definitely not suffering from a lack of options. From patches to transbuccal tablets to pellets, there are numerous routes of administration for testosterone. In fact, the wide array of options can sometimes be overwhelming. To help you figure out which one best fits into your lifestyle, read on for some information about the ways in which testosterone replacement therapy can be administered.
Oral testosterone comes in pill form, and you simply swallow it like you would any other medication. This makes it a convenient route of administration.
In practice, however, oral testosterone replacement therapy is rarely used. The reason for this is that anything taken orally is subject to first-pass liver metabolism, and this will quickly destroy testosterone. Oral testosterone is formulated in a way that avoids liver metabolism, but this has the side effect of potentially making it damaging to the liver. If you're put on oral testosterone replacement therapy, your physician will continually monitor your liver function to make sure that your liver isn't being damaged by the regimen.
Transbuccal testosterone is delivered through an adhesive tablet that you stick to your gums or the inside of your cheek. When administered this way, the testosterone is absorbed into your bloodstream rather than being subject to liver metabolism, so there's much less risk of liver toxicity.
The downside of using transbuccal testosterone is that some people find the process slightly annoying. The tablet needs to be kept in your mouth until it fully dissolves. Some people also experience gum irritation in the area where they place the tablet. If you can tolerate this route of administration, however, then it's a convenient choice for testosterone replacement therapy.
Testosterone cypionate injections are the least expensive route of administration for testosterone. It's administered intramuscularly. However, you'll need to visit your physician every two weeks in order to receive the injection. For some people, this presents an inconvenience. It can also make travel more difficult.
However, a new form of injectable testosterone, testosterone undecanoate, solves this problem. You'll also need to visit your physician's office for these injections, but you only need to receive one every three months. Unfortunately, this route of administration can be quite expensive since testosterone undecanoate is new to the market and not available as a generic.
Testosterone patches are applied to the skin, and they provide you with a steady level of testosterone throughout the day. This is another very convenient form of administering testosterone since you simply apply a patch to your skin every day. However, you can't swim or shower while you're wearing the patch. Some people also experience skin irritation at the area where the patch is applied.
Gels or Creams
Gels and creams are applied to your skin. Like patches, they also supply you with a stable level of testosterone throughout the day. The major downside of using a gel or a cream for testosterone replacement therapy is transference—the gel or cream can rub off on people who come in contact with you like your children or your partner. Unfortunately, this can be dangerous if children are exposed to your testosterone gel. As long as you remember that you've applied the gel and take proper precautions to avoid transferring it to other people, this is a safe route of administration.
Testosterone pellets are placed under your skin by a physician, and they'll slowly release testosterone. You only need to have the pellets placed every six months, which easily makes this the most convenient method of testosterone replacement therapy. The primary downside is that the up-front cost to implant the pellets can be high. When considered in terms of monthly cost, however, the overall expense of this route of administration is similar to your other options. The only caveat is that your physician needs to make sure that you tolerate testosterone replacement therapy well before pellets will be considered, as they're very long-acting.
Which route of administration is best? It depends on your personal preferences and your budget. Injected testosterone cypionate is likely the least expensive option, but visiting your physician every two weeks for an injection can be an inconvenience for many people. Patches and pellets are the two most convenient options, but the monthly expense will be higher. The best way to find out which method is right for you is to talk to your physician about your available options, look up how much they cost, and then select the one that fits into both your lifestyle and your budget.