The testosterone gel product Testim is known to cause blood clots in the legs, according to the Prescribing Information. This side effect, also known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), can lead to life-threatening complications like pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lungs) and permanent circulatory problems in the legs.
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Testim and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Testim (testosterone gel) is prescribed for men with hypogonadism (low testosterone). It is applied to the skin and testosterone is absorbed directly into the bloodstream.
In the body, testosterone stimulates erythropoietin, a hormone that increases blood counts. The extra red blood cells can thicken the blood, increase blood pressure, and potentially elevate your risk of blood clots. This risk may be even higher for people who have genetic risk-factors for blood clotting, which is why it is a good idea to get a blood test before starting Testim.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Information
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that grows deep inside a muscle in the body. Nearly all cases occur in the calf or thigh, but some cases of DVT occur in the pelvis, arm, heart, or elsewhere.
Symptoms of DVT
- Lower leg pain or tenderness (may only happen when you walk)
- Skin feels warmer near the clot
- Red discoloration of the leg
The most common complication of DVT is post-thrombotic syndrome, which is an incurable circulation problem that is estimated to affect about 30% of people who have DVT. Post-thrombotic syndrome occurs when blood clots damage venous valves, which causes blood to pool in the legs when standing or walking. Symptoms include swelling, pain, rusty discoloration, skin hardening, and ulcers.
Pulmonary embolism is the most severe complication of DVT. It occurs when a blood clot in the legs breaks off and travels in the bloodstream (called an “embolism”). Normally, veins in the lower body carry oxygen-depleted blood to the heart and lungs to receive more oxygen. If there is a blood clot, it will get stuck in the pulmonary arteries and cause a pulmonary embolism.
Resources & Additional Info
- What is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)? — National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
- DVT Symptoms, Complications, Treatment — Mayo Clinic
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