Metabolic and behavioral effects of high-dose, exogenous testosterone in healthy men

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1994 Aug;79(2):561-7. doi: 10.1210/jcem.79.2.8045977.


In addition to their use as replacement therapy for hypogonadal males, androgens, particularly testosterone (T), are being explored as potential hormonal male contraceptive agents, alone or in combination with other compounds. Androgens have regulatory effects on a variety of physiological systems in addition to gonadotropin secretion and spermatogenesis. Therefore, as hormonal contraceptive regiments that alter serum T levels are explored, it is important to evaluate their effects on these aspects of normal male physiology. The effects of exogenous T on suppression of spermatogenesis in 19 healthy men were recently compared, using a T dosage of 200 mg im/week for 20 weeks. Before treatment, the men were evaluated during a 3-month pretreatment period, and after treatment, they were followed for 4-6 months or until their sperm counts normalized. Because of the lack of information regarding the effects of exogenous T on nonreproductive physiology, we examined the effects of high-dose T on plasma lipids, calcium metabolism, and sexual behavior in our subjects. Mean serum T and estradiol levels increased significantly during the treatment period. Plasma high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels decreased significantly within the first month and remained suppressed during the duration of T administration. At the end of the treatment period, mean plasma HDL cholesterol had decreased by 13 +/- 2% (P < 0.05); plasma levels of HDL2, HDL3, and apoprotein AI also decreased significantly; mean levels of low density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides were unchanged. After 1 month of the recovery period, plasma HDL levels had returned to the baseline range. Serum calcium levels decreased slightly during treatment; this decrease was statistically significant. Urinary calcium excretion did not change. Mean levels of serum intact PTH increased by 84 +/- 17% (P < 0.05) during T administration; in contrast, 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels decreased by 16 +/- 4% (P < 0.05), and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D levels did not change significantly. All markers of calcium metabolism returned to baseline during the posttreatment period. Little change was found in self-reported sexual and aggressive behaviors during the study. There was a trend toward increased arousal and spontaneous erections during T administration, but this did not reach statistical significance. Frequency of sexual intercourse, masturbation, and kissing and fondling did not change, nor was the subjects' satisfaction in their relationships affected by T administration. Mean body weight increased by 4.0 +/- 0.5 kg. Approximately half the men noted mild acne. Body weight and acne symptoms returned to baseline during the recovery period.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / chemically induced
  • Adult
  • Apolipoprotein A-I / metabolism
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Calcifediol / blood
  • Calcitriol / blood
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Male
  • Parathyroid Hormone / blood
  • Sexual Behavior / drug effects
  • Spermatogenesis / drug effects
  • Testosterone / administration & dosage
  • Testosterone / adverse effects
  • Testosterone / pharmacology*
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Apolipoprotein A-I
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Lipids
  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Triglycerides
  • Testosterone
  • Estradiol
  • Calcitriol
  • Calcifediol
  • Calcium