Testosterone replacement therapy

Andrology. 2020 Nov;8(6):1551-1566. doi: 10.1111/andr.12774. Epub 2020 Mar 9.


Background: The aim of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is to improve symptoms and signs of testosterone deficiency including decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, depressed mood, anaemia, loss of muscle and bone mass, by increasing serum testosterone levels to physiologic range. TRT has been used in the last 70 years, and overtime, numerous preparations and formulations have been developed to improve pharmacokinetics (PKs) and patient compliance. The routes of delivery approved for use in the Western world include buccal, nasal, subdermal, transdermal and intramuscular (IM).

Objectives: The aim of this narrative review was to describe and compare all available and approved testosterone preparations according to pharmacology, PKs and adverse effects.

Materials and methods: We have performed an extensive PubMed review of the literature on TRT in clinical practice. Contraindications and monitoring of TRT were analyzed by comparing available guidelines released in the last five years. We provide a review of advantages and disadvantages of different modalities of TRT and how to monitor treatment to minimize the risks.

Results: TRT is associated with multiple benefits highly relevant to the patient. However, the recommendations given in different guidelines on TRT are based on data from a limited number of randomized controlled trials (RCTs), as well as non-randomized clinical studies and observational studies. This is the case for the safety of a long-term TRT in late-onset hypogonadism (LOH). No evidence is provided indeed on the effects of TRT on endpoints such as deterioration of heart failure suggesting a cautious approach to T replacement in older men with a history of heart failure.

Conclusion: Clinicians must consider the unique characteristics of each patient and make the necessary adjustments in the management of LOH in order to provide the safest and most beneficial results.

Keywords: androgen deficiency; hormonal therapy; late-onset hypogonadism; testosterone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Decision-Making
  • Dosage Forms
  • Drug Administration Routes
  • Drug Compounding
  • Eunuchism / blood
  • Eunuchism / diagnosis
  • Eunuchism / drug therapy*
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Testosterone / administration & dosage*
  • Testosterone / adverse effects
  • Testosterone / deficiency
  • Testosterone / pharmacokinetics
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Dosage Forms
  • Testosterone