AndroGel is a hormone replacement product for men suffering from hypogonadism, a low level of the male hormone testosterone. This condition is marked by symptoms such as impotence and decreased interest in sex, lowered mood, fatigue, and decreases in bone density and lean body mass. Testosterone replacement therapy helps correct these problems. AndroGel, applied daily to the skin, provides an especially convenient way of taking the hormone, which was previously administered only by injection or skin patch.
Men using AndroGel must be careful to prevent contact between gel-covered areas and other people's skin. The drug can be transferred by skin-to-skin contact and can have harmful effects on women, especially pregnant women and their unborn babies. Women who touch AndroGel should wash with soap and water as soon as possible. Female partners of men who use AndroGel should contact a physician if they develop signs that the hormone is being transferred, such as acne, increased body hair, or other male sexual characteristics.
Apply AndroGel once daily in the morning to clean, dry skin. Empty the entire contents of the package into a clean hand and apply to the shoulders and upper arms and/or the abdomen. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water. Allow the application site to dry before dressing, then be sure to cover the treated area with clothing. Avoid bathing, showering, or swimming for 5 to 6 hours after application. Do not apply AndroGel to the genitals.
Women must not use AndroGel, and men with prostate cancer or cancer of the breast should also avoid it. Do not use the product if it gives you an allergic reaction.
Before using AndroGel, you should be aware that prolonged, high-dose therapy with male hormones is associated with liver disease and in some cases, liver cancer. Breast enlargement is also a common problem.
Remember, too, that older men who take male hormones are at higher risk for developing prostate disease or prostate cancer. Your doctor should check you carefully before prescribing AndroGel if you have a medical profile that increases your risk for prostate cancer.
Testosterone replacement therapy also tends to worsen sleep apnea, a condition that causes breathing to stop temporarily during sleep. Obese men and those with chronic lung disease are especially at risk.
If you have a history of heart, kidney, or liver disease and develop swelling in the hands, feet, or ankles, stop using AndroGel and alert your doctor immediately. Also contact your doctor if you develop too frequent or persistent erections, nausea, vomiting, or changes in breathing or skin color.
Combining AndroGel with adrenocorticotropic hormone (Cortrosyn), or steroid drugs such as hydrocortisone (Hytone), prednisolone (Pediapred), and betamethasone (Diprolene) may increase fluid retention and swelling, especially in people with heart or kidney disease.