The original and primary use of testosterone is for the treatment of males who have too little or no natural endogenous testosterone production—males with hypogonadism. Appropriate use for this purpose is legitimate hormone replacement therapy (testosterone replacement therapy ), which maintains serum testosterone levels in the normal range.
However, over the years, as with every hormone, testosterone or other anabolic steroids has also been given for many other conditions and purposes besides replacement, with varying success but higher rates of side effects or problems. Examples include reducing infertility, correcting lack of libido or erectile dysfunction, correcting osteoporosis, encouraging penile enlargement, encouraging height growth, encouraging bone marrow stimulation and reversing the effects of anemia, and even appetite stimulation. By the late 1940s testosterone was being touted as an anti-aging wonder drug (e.g., see Paul de Kruif's The Male Hormone). Decline of testosterone production with age has led to interest in androgen replacement therapy.
To take advantage of its virilizing effects, testosterone is often administered to transsexual men as part of the hormone replacement therapy, with a "target level" of the normal male testosterone level. Like-wise, transsexual women are sometimes prescribed anti-androgens to decrease the level of testosterone in the body and allow for the effects of estrogen to develop.
Testosterone patches are effective at treating low libido in post-menopausal women. Low libido may also occur as a symptom or outcome of hormonal contraceptive use. Women may also use testosterone therapies to treat or prevent loss of bone density, muscle mass and to treat certain kinds of depression and low energy state. Women on testosterone therapies may experience an increase in weight without an increase in body fat due to changes in bone and muscle density. Most undesired effects of testosterone therapy in women may be controlled by hair-reduction strategies, acne prevention, etc. There is a theoretical risk that testosterone therapy may increase the risk of breast or gynaecological cancers, and further research is needed to define any such risks more clearly.
Read more about this topic: Testosterone
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