Testosterone, the male hormone responsible for helping to maintain sperm production and sex drive, is sometimes low in certain men. This low level may produce symptoms that warrant the use of a prescription synthetic testosterone. If so, your doctor may choose to prescribe testosterone in the form of a gel or patch.
Testosterone in gel form (Androgel or Testim) is generally applied once daily, typically in the mornings, and only to the upper torso skin (arms, shoulders, abdominal area). The skin should be washed and allowed to dry prior to application. This administration form of testosterone is less painful than the injection or patch options available and is much more convenient to the user since it is similar to applying body lotion. The daily five-gram dosage comes in both a packet and a tube form, making it unnecessary to measure out the medication each day.
Due to the potential for skin-to-skin transference between the testosterone gel user and other individuals, it is recommended that hands be thoroughly cleansed after the application process and the gel allowed to dry completely prior to dressing. In addition, following application, users of testosterone gel should wait up to six hours before swimming, showering or bathing again to ensure full benefit of the hormone therapy.
Since testosterone gel can be applied to human skin directly, and it is recognized as playing an important role in increasing testosterone levels, any direct—or indirect—contact of the user with a child or woman (especially a pregnant female) can have adverse physical consequences (male sexual characteristic formation), according to the online website Drugs.com (see Resources).
Testoderm patches are applied directly to the scrotum area, but only after it has been dry-shaved first. This patch administers steady dosages of testosterone to the user throughout the day. General use dictates wearing one of these patches between 22 and 24 hours per day, replacing it with a new patch daily, for a total application period of eight weeks.
Androderm patches are applied to other areas of the body (thigh, back, upper arms and the abdominal area). They are not to be placed on the scrotum at all, nor on any area that would experience greater body pressure when you sit or sleep since they need to remain for a full 24 hours in that location. Site application should be rotated daily, with no body site being used twice within a seven-day period.
Cons of the Patch
When the patch is removed from the body, residue of testosterone is sometimes left behind. This can increase potential skin transference risk for the patch user’s partner during sexual activity, possibly resulting in adverse effects (acne flareup or unusual hair growth) according to Drugs.com (see Resources). In addition, the patches can irritate the skin where applied, creating potential skin rashes on the body sites used.