AndroGel and other testosterone gels can light your fire—literally

Consumer Reports News: May 20, 2013 09:38 AM

Testosterone drugs such as Androgel 1.62% and Axiron increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular events in men who take the drugs. Children accidentally exposed to testosterone can experience early puberty, and women who touch the stuff can experience acne and the growth of body hair. Need another reason to steer clear of the drugs? Consider this: The gels are flammable.

You read that right. We found this warning in the medication guide's fine print: "Testosterone gel is flammable until dry. Let the gel dry before smoking or going near an open flame."

Here are some other unexpected and disturbing warnings we culled from the package inserts:

  • If you expect to have skin-to-skin contact with another person, first wash the application area well with soap and water.

  • If a woman or child makes contact with the testosterone gel application area, that area on the woman or child should be washed well with soap and water right away.

  • After the gel has dried, cover the application area with clothing. Keep the area covered until you have washed the application area well or have showered.

  • Do not apply testosterone gel to your penis or scrotum.

  • Wait 5 hours before showering or swimming. This will ensure that the greatest amount of testosterone gel is absorbed into your system.

Hardly sounds like a great way to bring back that lovin' feeling and restore your lost libido. In fact, our medical experts say that for most men the risks of the therapy outweigh the benefits, and often isn't appropriate even men who have clearly low testosterone levels. If you and your doctor do decide you might benefit from the therapy, make sure you understand the risks and precautions, and have carefully read the medication guide. And that you stay away from the grill after applying the gel.

For more on what to consider before considering testosterone drugs, read "Low-T: Don't fall for the hype." And see our advice on how to restore your love life without resorting to drugs.


Testosterone Gel Medication Guide [FDA]
AndroGel Medication Guide [FDA]
Axiron Medication Guide [FDA]

Ginger Skinner

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