The long-term risks and benefits of testosterone replacement therapy are poorly understood. However, numerous studies indicate that testosterone increases the risk of developing blood clots in the legs — a known side effect of Testim. In some cases, these blood clots can cause a pulmonary embolism, stroke, heart attack, and even death.
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Testim and Blood Clots
Testim (testosterone gel) is known to cause blood clots in the legs (also known as deep vein thrombosis or DVT). These abnormal blood clots grow when there is no injury. They can grow extremely large and damage veins or cause circulation problems. Small pieces of the blood clot can also break off, travel to other organs, and cause life-threatening complications.
How Can Testim Cause Blood Clots?
Like all testosterone replacement products, one of the most common side effects of Testim is an increase in the number of red blood cells. Testosterone increases a kidney hormone called erythropoietin (EPO), which stimulates bone marrow to make more red blood cells. This can increase blood volume, thickness, viscosity, and blood pressure — all risk-factors for blood clotting.
- Heart: Chest pain or discomfort, which may radiate to arms, neck, back, or jaw. May feel like indigestion or heartburn. Shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, vomiting, dizziness.
- Brain: Sudden changes in vision, muscle coordination, ability to talk or understand speech, seizures, drooping side of the face.
- Lungs: Stabbing chest pain, especially when breathing deeply, may cause you to bend over. Rapid heartbeat, coughing (may contain blood), sweating, nausea, fever.
- Arms or legs: Pain or discomfort, swelling, redness, or warmth.
- Abdomen: Stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea.
Long-term complications after blood clots or DVT include post-thrombotic syndrome. This chronic condition occurs when one or more of the valves located in the deep veins of the leg are damaged. It is characterized by leg swelling, pain, excess fluid in tissues (edema), varicose veins, and skin hardening. Severe cases can lead to intractable leg ulcers that are painful, decrease mobility, and require ongoing medical and nursing care.
Resources & Additional Info
- Long-Term Outcomes After Deep Vein Thrombosis — Journal of General Internal Medicine (2000)
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