Testosterone treatment comes of age: new options for hypogonadal men

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2006 Sep;65(3):275-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2265.2006.02618.x.


Male hypogonadism is one of the most frequent, but also most underdiagnosed, endocrinopathies. However, the required testosterone treatment is simple and very effective if properly administered. Although testosterone has been available for clinical use for seven decades, until quite recently the treatment modalities were far from ideal. Subdermal testosterone pellets require minor surgery for insertion and often cause local problems. The injectable testosterone enanthate, for a long period the most frequently used mode of administration, lasts for two to four weeks, but produces supraphysiological levels initially and low levels before the next injection. The oral testosterone undecanoate has to be taken three times daily, has an uncertain absorption pattern and results in peaks and valleys of serum testosterone levels throughout the day. With the advent of transdermal testosterone preparations, the desired physiological serum levels could be achieved for the first time. Scrotal testosterone patches were the first to fulfil this requirement. These were followed by nonscrotal skin patches, which, however, cause considerable skin reactions including erythema and blisters. Recently introduced, invisible transdermal testosterone gels increased the intervals of application and are now slowly replacing other modalities. A mucoadhesive buccal testosterone tablet with sustained release is also a recent competing modality. Finally, injectable testosterone undecanoate in castor oil was made into a real depot preparation requiring only four injections per year for replacement therapy. These new preparations with a desired pharmacokinetic testosterone profile give the patient a real choice and make treatment easier. Based on pharmacogenetic considerations taking the androgen receptor polymorphism into account, treatment may be individualized for each patient in the future.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Cheek
  • Gels
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Hypogonadism / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Scrotum
  • Testosterone / administration & dosage*
  • Testosterone / therapeutic use


  • Gels
  • Testosterone