New Testosterone Gel Promises Boost to Libido, Mood

Published June 8th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Testosterone deficiency, suffered by millions of men in the world, has been handled with a variety of therapies, but all with shortcomings. However, a gel recently approved by US drug authorities revives hopes for patients of a new life full of energy and "a good mood", according to a report Wednesday. 

Following is the full text of the report: 

The translucent gel is absorbed within minutes. Rub it into your shoulder or some other part of your body, and it may make you a new man.  

That's the promise of testosterone gel, recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration, to treat men who have abnormally low levels of the hormone — a condition known as hypergonadism. Low testosterone can cause fatigue, a stagnant libido and the loss of muscle mass, among other problems.  

"I've always been a high-energy person," said Oreon, a 65-year-old from Houston who started using the gel two weeks ago. "But now I feel more energetic, more positive — I just started a new workout program today. For men, testosterone is a great antidepressant."  

Some four million to five million men in the US suffer from hypergonadism. In recent years, many HIV-positive patients like Oreon have undergone treatment for the condition, though it isn't clear whether their low testosterone levels are caused by the virus or the combination of drugs used to treat it.  

In the pre-gel era, the only treatments available to them were creams, which took too long to be absorbed; patches, which caused skin irritation; and testosterone injections, which weren't able to sustain steady levels of the hormone over time.  

"It appears the testosterone gel permeates the skin quite nicely," said Dr. Laurence Demers of the Penn State University School of Medicine. The advantage of using a gel is that the hormone can actually be stored in the skin, rather than in a patch. The skin then releases a steady stream of the hormone into the bloodstream.  

As for where the gel is applied, manufacturer United Pharmaceuticals recommends spreading it on the shoulder or abdomen. But after conducting his own research, Oreon has determined that the gel works best when its applied to a more sensitive area: the scrotum.  

"If it's applied incorrectly, a lot of the testosterone can end up being converted to estrogen," depending on where the gel is applied, he said. "Some people are worried that it may sting, but I haven't noticed any problems."  

The FDA approved testosterone gel to specifically treat hypergonadism, but now that it has the agency's stamp of approval, "t-gel" can be prescribed "off-label" by physicians for any ailment. Testosterone is being investigated as a libido-booster for women, though it has not been fully tested or approved for female use. Some researchers have also suggested testosterone can alleviate depression, especially cases that begin in mid-life and are linked to the progressive effects of aging.  

Three-quarters of patients with late-onset depression had their moods improve when treated with depression in a study led by Dr. Perry Paul of the University of Iowa College of Medicine. But "only about 33 percent of people with life-long depression responded well," he said. Moreover, at the low doses of testosterone people are likely to get from the gel, Paul predicted it is unlikely there will be significant effects on mood.  

Doctors would be wise to start off with low doses, especially since prescribing the drug to "somebody with aggressive behavior, you could tip them off," Demers said.  

"They could get themselves into trouble," he added. "Testosterone is an extremely potent hormone." –  


© 2000 Al Bawaba (

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