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Understanding Erectile Dysfunction Medications (cont.)

Androgens

Androgens include testosterone (Depo-Testosterone, Delatest, Andro-L.A., AndroGel, Testim, Androderm, Testoderm).

  • How androgens work: Androgens are hormones that affect normal growth and development of male sex organs and maintenance of secondary sexual characteristics, including the growth and maturation of the prostate, seminal vesicles, penis, and scrotum. Beard, pubic hair, chest hair, axillary hair, deepening of voice, and alterations in body musculature also are controlled by androgens. Testosterone may be beneficial in men with low sexual desire. Sexual desire and an overall sense of well-being are likely to improve when serum testosterone levels (blood levels) are restored to normal concentrations. Doctors will periodically check the testosterone blood level to see if it improves.

  • Who should not use these medications: Persons with allergy to testosterone should not take them, nor should men with severe heart or kidney disease, benign prostatic hypertrophy with obstruction, breast cancer, or unexplained genital bleeding. Men taking androgens need to obtain semiannual blood tests, including prostate specific antigen (PSA), liver function tests, and a complete blood count.

  • Use: Testosterone is available in a variety of forms including oral (tablets or capsules), injections, topical patches, ointments, and gels.

  • Drug or food interactions: These medications may increase the effect of anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin (Coumadin).

  • Side effects: Testosterone may worsen low blood sugar levels or increase blood pressure. Topical application may cause skin irritation. Rare side effects include headache, insomnia, or mood swings. Pain at the injection site is not uncommon.

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