Side Effects of Testosterone Replacement Therapy

By SheCares Editorial Team | Updated: Mar 11, 2019

Oftentimes, doctors are hesitant to prescribe testosterone to women as the risk of suffering from its adverse reactions can outweigh its benefits.

Read more about testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) side effects below, counting the most common adverse reactions to the treatment as well as long-term TRT side effects.

Common Side Effects

Regularly experienced negative side effects of testosterone replacement therapy are:

  • Acne
  • Female-patterned balding
  • Voice changes 
  • Hirsutism 
  • Weight gain 
  • Aggression 
  • Lack of well-being
  • Irregular periods
  • Fluid retention 
  • Anxiety 
  • Edema 
  • Clitoris enlargement

It is worth mentioning that every experience with TRT will differ, leading to the possibility of there being other adverse effects of testosterone replacement therapy not aforementioned.

Long-Term TRT Side Effects

Extended use of synthetic androgens in testosterone replacement therapy may lead to the development of the following health conditions:

  • Breast cancer. Testosterone can aromatize to estradiol and have a secondary, stimulatory effect on estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer. Combine with an aromatase inhibitor for safety.
  • Heart disease. Long-term use of testosterone is suggested to lower HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels while raising LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. 
  • Liver damage. High dosages of androgens - like testosterone - can cause hepatoxicity, as can other forms of oral, synthetic hormones. To prevent this, use non-oral forms of testosterone.

Once more, this list is not absolute as there are other long-term side effects of TRT that might evolve, depending upon a woman's specific medical history.

Such side effects do not usually pose a problem if the appropriate dose of testosterone is taken and there is regular monitoring of blood levels. If a woman notices any negative side effects, it's recommended to reduce testosterone dosage accordingly.

Now that the long-term effects of testosterone replacement therapy have been explained, continue reading to discover the specific link between hormone replacement therapy and menopause.