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What Are Testosterone Implants?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 17 March 2014
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Testosterone implants are medical implants that release a steady supply of testosterone to boost levels of this hormone in patients with testosterone deficiencies. A doctor will place an implant in the patient's fatty tissue and will take a followup blood test to make sure the implant is working and to check on hormone levels. Periodic testing is necessary to see if the implant is still functional and to check for excessive testosterone, which can potentially cause health and behavioral problems.

There are a number of settings when health care providers may recommend testosterone implants. Men with low levels of this hormone can experience osteoporosis, low sex drive, and other symptoms. Supplementing with testosterone to correct the imbalance may resolve these issues. Men with breast or prostate cancer are not good candidates for implants, as the increased hormone levels can cause the cancer to grow more quickly and be more aggressive.

While this hormone is associated with men by many members of the public because it is among the androgens, or hormones involved in male sexual development, it can also be useful for women. Some women in menopause need testosterone implants to make up for inadequate hormone production, as women produce and use this hormone too. Implants can offer an unobtrusive way to provide a consistent dose of testosterone to a patient in menopause who needs hormone supplementation. She will also take other hormones like estrogen.

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Transsexual men may also opt for testosterone implants to provide their hormone replacement therapy. The steady supply of hormones from an implant may be preferable to taking testosterone in other formats, especially for men who are concerned about remembering to take their medications on time. They will need hormone replacement for life because their bodies cannot produce enough of it on their own, and an implant can be an excellent long term solution.

Before a doctor can prescribe testosterone implants, she will need to evaluate the patient thoroughly to make sure there are no contraindications. This will include diagnostic testing to determine why levels of the hormone are inadequate and to establish a baseline to use as a reference in future tests. Patients who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or undergoing cancer treatment must wait for implants. The doctor may also have concerns on the basis of other medications the patient takes, medical history, and family history of diseases. If hormone levels rise too high while on the implant, it may be necessary to remove it.

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