How to Decide to Take Testosterone

Four Methods:Deciding to Take Testosterone as a ManDeciding to Take Testosterone as a WomanUnderstanding Testosterone and Its RisksDeciding How to Take Testosterone

Testosterone is an important hormone. In both men and women, it can increase bone mass and muscle, produce facial hair, shrink the breasts, and increase sex drive. In men, it can improve mental health and sharpness. In women, it can ease menopause symptoms and aid in female to male transitions. No matter how or why you use testosterone, consult your doctor and ensure that you are in good health before you begin taking testosterone.

Method 1
Deciding to Take Testosterone as a Man

  1. 1
    Ask yourself if you want to improve your sexual function.[1] If you have a low sex drive, or if your sex drive has declined with age, you might want to give it a boost with some extra testosterone. In addition to increased libido, testosterone supplements can help you avoid unwanted erections and maintain erections when aroused.
  2. 2
    Ask yourself if you want a healthier body.[2] Men who suffer from low testosterone may experience increased body fat and larger breasts.[3] At the same time, they might experience a decrease in bone mass, muscle, and overall energy levels.
    • You can probably take testosterone if you’re recovering from prostate cancer. Prostate cancer treatments often disrupt hormone levels, and testosterone treatments can correct testosterone deficiencies by rebuilding bone mass, increasing energy levels, and solving related problems.[4] However, if you’re at high risk for recurrence, your doctor might recommend against it.
    • Low testosterone has also been linked with type 2 diabetes and imbalances in blood sugar levels.[5] If you’re looking for a way to control or prevent diabetes, you might choose to take testosterone.
  3. 3
    Ask yourself if you want a healthier mind.[6] Low testosterone can lead to depression and reduced self-confidence. You may also have difficulty concentrating, too.
    • Taking testosterone can cause significant emotional changes, and these changes can affect how other people perceive and act toward you.

Method 2
Deciding to Take Testosterone as a Woman

  1. 1
    Think about easing your menopause. A subcutaneous (under the skin) pellet inserted once every three months can help reduce symptoms of menopause.[7] Night sweats, hot flashes, and other menopause symptoms can be irritating at best and disruptive at worst. Testosterone treatment is a safe way to prevent or ease these symptoms, and also helps maintain bone density, libido, and energy levels.
  2. 2
    Identify whether you want to transition from female to male. Transitioning in this way can make transgender people feel happier and more at home in their own bodies. However, if you are unhappy with or uncomfortable with feeling out of sync with your gender, you might have a hormonal imbalance that could be adjusted with testosterone. In either case, talk to a doctor to see if testosterone treatment is right for you.
  3. 3
    Ensure you will be safe while using testosterone. Trans men have higher-than-average risk of being murdered, bullied, or sexually harassed.[8] If you're transitioning, you might experience hostility in public, in private, or at work. Some people might not accept you when you transition.
    • If you do not think you will be safe and comfortable after beginning hormone replacement therapy, you may want to consider finding different living arrangements and/or different employment options, or you may want to delay transitioning until you are in a more secure situation.
    • Although beginning testosterone can be an exciting milestone, many of the initial changes and side effects are highly visible and irreversible, and your immediate mental and physical health are more important.
    • Think about the consequences of transitioning. If you are taking testosterone to transition, you must consider the effects these changes will have on your family ties and intimate relationships, your employment, your mental health, and your safety.
  4. 4
    Learn about the effects and side effects of using testosterone. Testosterone works to masculinize your body, and it does this through vocal, mental, and physical changes. Testosterone may significantly redistribute your body fat, stop your menstrual cycle, and/or increase the size or sensitivity of your clitoris. Excess testosterone in your body will be converted to estrogen, which may delay the desired changes or cause unwanted or dangerous side effects.[9] You may experience some, all, or none of these changes or side effects, but it is important to keep track of any changes and talk to your doctor about them. It may also:
    • thicken your skin
    • lower your voice
    • thicken your thyroid cartilage or Adam’s apple
    • increase your muscle mass and strength
    • increase the growth of facial and body hair
    • increase your overall energy level
    • increase or change your sex drive and/or your attraction to other people
    • provide some protection against osteoporosis
    • balance your emotions
    • cause vaginal dryness, recurring yeast infections, atrophy of sexual organs, cramping, and/or permanently decreased fertility.

Method 3
Understanding Testosterone and Its Risks

  1. 1
    Make a list of questions and concerns about testosterone before visiting the doctor.[10] As with any other health condition or prescription drug, it is important to be informed before talking with your doctor so as to avoid confusion or misunderstanding. If you are worried about any of the changes or side effects of testosterone, direct your questions to the doctor. You may want to ask:
    • What are the side effects of testosterone supplements?
    • Do I need to see an endocrinologist?
    • How do my testosterone levels look?
    • If your doctor is not knowledgeable about hormone replacement therapy for female to male transitions, or is not comfortable with prescribing testosterone to you, you may need to find another primary care physician or specialist who does have experience with hormone replacement therapy.
  2. 2
    Consult a doctor about whether you need to take testosterone.[11] Your doctor can run tests to help you determine if supplemental testosterone would help you.[12] In men, low testosterone is diagnosed by a full-body examination that helps rule out alternatives to low testosterone levels like pituitary tumors or thyroid problems. You’ll also have your blood tested directly for testosterone levels.
    • If you have any conditions that could be worsened by taking testosterone (like blood clots or hormone-sensitive cancers), you may need additional tests. Your doctor might recommend an alternative treatment.
    • You might also simply need to exercise more or change your diet to correct symptoms like increased fat, decreased bone mass, and feelings of fatigue.
    • Your doctor might direct you to see an endocrinologist, a doctor who specializes in hormones.
    • It is illegal to buy, sell, or use testosterone without a prescription from a healthcare professional.
  3. 3
    Don’t assume you need testosterone just because your levels are lower than average.[13] Normal testosterone levels can vary from person to person, and there is in fact no absolute definition of low testosterone. Be sure to get at least to or three tests to establish your baseline testosterone level before deciding supplements are a good choice.
    • These tests will probably be performed in the morning, since that is when testosterone levels tend to be lowest.
    • A healthy testosterone range for men ranges from 250-1,100 nanograms per deciliter of blood.
    • Taking additional testosterone will not speed up puberty.
    • Testosterone treatments are not appropriate for age-related declines in testosterone levels.
  4. 4
    Stay aware of cardiovascular problems.[14] Testosterone has the potential to negatively impact your cardiovascular health. This might take the form of heart palpitations or arrhythmia, a fluttering or racing heart, or heart valve problems that could produce lightheadedness, chest pain, or general feelings of fatigue. Truly dangerous side effects include heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure.[15]
    • These side effects increase in likelihood with age.
  5. 5
    Look for other side effects. Common side effects of testosterone supplements include a high red blood cell count, breast enlargement, acne, and increased prostate size.[16] Less common side effects include blood clots or swelling (edema) in the legs and/or ankles, pain in the breast, and sleep apnea (an inability to breathe properly during sleep). Testosterone has also been linked to negative sexual results, including changes in the size of testicles and low sperm counts.[17] You might also experience:
    • increased skin oiliness and acne
    • unbalanced emotions (especially at high doses)
    • headaches and migraines
    • an increased appetite
    • weight gain and redistribution of fat around the abdomen
    • unwanted or excessive body hair growth
    • increased sweat production and stronger body odor
    • a receding hair line or male-pattern baldness[18]
    • an imbalance in thyroid function, especially if you have been treated for overactive or underactive thyroid function in the past.
  6. Image titled Journal Entry
    Monitor your mental, physical, and sexual health for changes and side effects.[19] Testosterone therapy can cause significant changes in your mental, physical, and sexual health, and it is important that you keep track of these changes and any side effects so that you can discuss them with your doctor during your next visit. Some doctors rely on your reports of physical and mental changes to adjust your dosage rather than doing expensive blood tests during every visit, and your comfort level with the changes can be used to determine whether your dosage or prescription should be changed.
    • Follow up with your doctor for routine exams and blood tests to stay healthy. You will need medical supervision for the entire time you are using hormone replacement therapy and for a while after you stop taking testosterone to detect and control any harmful changes or side effects.
    • If you decide that you do not wish to continue testosterone therapy, you are free to stop at any time, in consultation with your doctor. They can help you through any side effects from stopping hormone replacement therapy, and can help you find other treatments that can lessen your symptoms and help you reach your goals.

Method 4
Deciding How to Take Testosterone

  1. 1
    Use testosterone patches.[20] Patches are simple to use. Simply apply the patch to the skin on your arms, thighs, or stomach. The best time to apply patches is before bed. The patch will replace your body’s testosterone with newer, more effective testosterone.
    • Do not apply the patches to an open sore or wound, an area that is hairy or oily, or an area above a bone (such as your shoulder or hip).
  2. Image titled Decide to Take Testosterone Step 2
    Take testosterone through injections.[21] Injections are usually the least expensive and fastest form of delivery, and they can be delivery weekly, biweekly, or monthly, depending on which compound your doctor prescribes. If you choose to use injections, your doctor will write you a prescription for appropriate tools (needles, pellets, or syringes).
    • Injections come either as pellets that are inserted beneath the skin, or as a liquid shot.
    • You may need to buy a special container to dispose of your used needles.
    • You may choose to switch from injections to another, slower-release method after you have been on testosterone for a few months and have begun to see significant changes.
    • If you chose to use injections, your doctor will likely schedule you for a follow-up appointment. You will need to bring your vial of testosterone, needles, and syringes to the appointment. They will teach you or a caregiver how to do the injections.
    • You might also choose to return to the doctor’s office to have them do your injections for you, often for the cost of your insurance plan’s co-payment.
  3. 3
    Take testosterone nasal gel.[22] This method works similarly to any other nasal spray, except you do not breathe in when applying the gel. Simply place the small dispenser bottle into your nostril and squeeze the pump. Repeat on the opposite nostril. Squeeze your nostrils together gently and massage them gently for a few seconds.
    • Do not blow your nose or sniff deeply for the hour following your testosterone treatment.
    • Wash your hands if the spray gets on your skin.
  4. 4
    Use caution. Except for slow-release implants, the delivery methods for testosterone can be taken at home. After you receive your prescription from the pharmacy, follow the instructions on the packaging to administer the first dose. Do not take more than the prescribed dose.
    • Patches, injections, and nasal gels are not recommended for correcting age-related testosterone level decline.[23]
    • Over-medicating can cause serious side effects, and it can decrease the effectiveness of the drug because your body converts excess testosterone into estrogen.


  • If you have trouble self-administering injections, you can ask your doctor to teach a family member, friend, or partner how to do the injections for you.
  • Always ask your doctor before changing your injection site or method.
  • If you have difficulty paying for blood tests, doctor’s visits, or other medical services, learn about health clinics in your area and state health insurance programs that can help you reduce or cover the cost of health care.
  • If you have trouble finding a health care provider or other resources, check your insurance company’s provider list or a local LGBTQ+ support group. Online forums often have a provider directory list, too.


  • Always follow your doctor's recommendations. Overdosing or taking testosterone when not necessary can lead to complications or death.
  • Using testosterone or other hormones without a doctor’s supervision can cause severe health problems, including heart attack, stroke, blood clots, liver damage, or certain types of cancer. Routine physical exams and blood work are necessary to monitor your health.

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