Androderm is a transdermal testosterone patch that was first released into the market in 1995 through TheraTech. Androderm is very similar to AndroGel in that both are transdermal; however, the patch carries a bioavailability that is double that of testosterone gel. Taken over by the pharmaceutical giant Watson in recent years, Androderm is perhaps the most well-known testosterone patch in the U.S. with ATMOS also holding a lot of popularity but primarily in Europe.
Androderm is perhaps the most effective transdermal testosterone on the market. Unfortunately, it’s not cheap and a lot of people simply won’t have access to it like they will gels, creams and injectable testosterone. We cannot say it is as effective as injectable testosterone, nothing is, but it is one of the better substitutes.
Functions & Traits:
Androderm is an alcoholic transdermal testosterone gel. Specifically, what this means is the Androderm patch contains testosterone gel in a reservoir and results in a steady release of the hormone throughout the day. By design it closely mimics the natural release of testosterone throughout the day. Due to this action, large amounts of testosterone will be released early on in the day once the patch is attached to the skin, with smaller continuous amounts being released over the full 24 hour period. Post administration, the individual should see his testosterone levels steadily increase and peak by hour 12 and steadily fall over the next 12 hour period. Once a full 24 hours has been reached, the process is begun again with a new patch.
Androderm is available in two dosing strengths, 2.5mg and 5mg. Both contain the same active testosterone; the 2.5mg patch will yield 12.2mg of active testosterone and the 5mg patch will yield 24.3mg of active testosterone. Based on individual need, more than one patch may be needed per day.
On a functional basis, although in transdermal form, Androderm represents a perfect replica of naturally produced testosterone. Once absorbed by the body, the human body will not be able to distinguish this exogenous testosterone from naturally produced testosterone. This makes it a well-suited medication for the treatment of low testosterone as it simply provides the body with the testosterone it is naturally lacking. This is important as low testosterone is a condition no man will want to live with as it can come with a host of symptoms. The symptoms of low testosterone can negatively affect a man’s sexual, physical and even his mental wellbeing. Fortunately, if levels are low, treatment with medications like Androderm can remedy the problem. It’s also important to note that while level low symptoms will diminish the individual’s quality of life, prolonged low testosterone that is ignored can promote many far serious conditions, or at least aid in the increased chance. Prolonged low testosterone has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, diabetes and heart disease.
There are possible side effects of Androderm. The side effects of Androderm will be identical to all testosterone medications. However, due to the adhesive that’s used to attach the patch to the skin, some men may experience skin irritation at the applied area. Most men will be fine, but some will not be able to use this form of testosterone due to the poor adhesive reaction. Beyond the adhesive, the primary side effects of Androderm surround testosterone’s estrogenic nature. When testosterone is in the body, it actively converts to estrogen through the aromatase enzyme. As estrogen levels rise, this can promote gynecomastia (male breast enlargement), water retention and high blood pressure if water retention gets out of hand. The rate of conversion from testosterone to estrogen will vary greatly depending on dose and genetics, but most all testosterone patients should not have an issue with proper care. If estrogen levels increase beyond the optimal range, the use of an Aromatase Inhibitor (AI) like Anastrozole is often recommended. An AI will inhibit the aromatase process and thereby drive serum estrogen levels down and protect against estrogenic side effects. Approximately 30% of all men will not need an AI when using Androderm. The best course of action is to begin testosterone therapy and have a blood test done 5-6 weeks into treatment. At this point the doctor can see how the body is metabolizing the testosterone hormone and determine if an AI is needed. Using an AI where it is not needed will drive serum estrogen levels down below the optimal range and can carry a host of unwanted effects.
The side effects of Androderm can also include those of an androgenic nature such as hair loss, acne and body hair growth. The androgenic side effects of testosterone are due to the hormone being metabolized by the 5-alpha reductase enzyme, which will convert the hormone to another androgen in dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Fortunately, the androgenic side effects are highly dependent on genetics. For example, hair loss is only possible if you are predisposed to male pattern baldness. You were already going to lose your hair, but the use of Androderm may speed it up. Further, it’s important to note that very few men should experience any androgenic side effects when using therapeutic doses of testosterone. Androgenic side effects are far more commonplace when supraphysiological doses of testosterone are being used. However, if androgenic effects do occur, some men will turn to 5-alpha reductase inhibitors such as Finasteride, but it’s best to avoid such medications when possible as they can have very unpleasant side effects.
The final primary side effect of concern for many men revolves around cholesterol. The use of testosterone can slightly reduce HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), but it should not have a significant effect. However, the use of testosterone along with an AI can reduce HDL cholesterol by more than 20%. For this reason, a healthy diet and lifestyle can be important. The diet should be rich in omega fatty acids and low in simple sugars and saturated fats. Plenty of cardiovascular activity is also always a good idea. Keep in mind, these are things you should be doing with or without testosterone therapy.
The side effects of Androderm, the only one that’s guaranteed is natural testosterone suppression. When we supplement with exogenous testosterone, our natural testosterone production comes to a halt. This is unavoidable regardless of dose, genetics or any rumor you may have heard. However, if you have low testosterone it is of very little concern; after all, you don’t have the ability to produce enough on your own to begin with. While this suppression will bother some men as it also causes the testicles to lose some of their fullness, the use of HCG along with testosterone will keep your natural testosterone production alive and well. This will give you a slight increase in total testosterone as well as keep the testicles full. An important note – HCG will only work if you suffer from secondary hypogonadism. If you suffer from primary hypogonadism, it will have very little if any effect. If this is a concern, keep in mind it is much worse to suffer from low testosterone. Shutting down natural production when you don’t produce enough of the essential hormone on your own is not a worthy concern when treatment is so readily available.
Doses & Administration:
The administration of Androderm is perhaps the simplest of all testosterone medications. Take out a new patch and place it directly on the abdomen, upper arms or shoulders, back or inner thigh and you’re done. However, your skin should be clean and dry before applying a fresh patch, and it is recommended that a shower is taken first. It’s also important to rotate the sites you apply the patch to. Rotations should be planned so that it’s at least seven days before you reuse the same area.
- Avoid over the counter lotions and ointments when using Androderm. Such items can severely reduce the bioavailability of the testosterone.
- Do not place the patch on your rear end or back as pressure may cause skin irritation.
- Most prescriptions will start a single 2.5mg or 5mg patch per day. This will normally be the dose for a few weeks (4-6) at which time a blood test will be done and more will be added if needed.