Testosterone cypionate, also known as depo-testosterone, is a frequently used hormone replacement for testosterone. Its structure and function is similar to that of natural testosterone that is made in the body.
Testosterone cypionate is only one of several types of testosterone replacements, so there are some differences about it that makes it better for some people than others.
Keep reading to learn more about testosterone cypionate, how it works in the body, what it is used for, how to know if you need it, how you use it, how your dose is determined, side effects, and other important information to know about this medication.
There are 4 types of testosterone that are available as a medication. Testosterone cypionate is one, along with testosterone enanthate, testosterone propionate, and a testosterone suspension.
Testosterone cypionate is a longer acting medication that stays in the body for about a week before it is broken down and excreted from the body in the waste. Because of this length of time in the body you are typically able to take less medication throughout the week, and instead take it in one dose every week.
However, there are cases where this is different. Testosterone cypionate has many uses and can be prescribed by a healthcare provider.
Testosterone in the Body
The natural testosterone is made in the body by the testicles. Testosterone is made when luteinizing hormone (LH) is released from the anterior pituitary gland to signal the Leydig cells in the testes to make testosterone.
The testosterone is then used to regulate the production of sperm, sexual arousal, muscle growth and strength, bone density, mood, hair growth, and body fat distribution. Testosterone is also key in the stimulation of puberty in boys. The rising levels of testosterone in normal functioning signal to the body to begin growing body hair, enlarging the penis and testes, and have increasing sexual desires.
When the level of testosterone decreases to a level that is outside of the normal range, it is common to experience symptoms related to dysregulation of the above roles of testosterone. When this occurs, it is a signal that replacement with testosterone may be needed.
What is Testosterone Cypionate Used For?
There are three main reasons that testosterone cypionate would be used. These include delayed puberty, hypogonadism, and palliative treatment of breast cancer.
Delayed puberty is when a person goes through puberty later than expected or not at all. This is typically signaled in boys by not having the testicles grow by the age of 14. This can happen for a number of reasons including genetic conditions, poor nutrition, problems with the testicles themselves, cancer treatments, certain medicines, and conditions that affect the pituitary or thyroid glands. If this is the case, then typically a short treatment of testosterone cypionate is used to hopefully stimulate the beginning of puberty.
The next reason that testosterone cypionate is used is hypogonadism, or when someone does not create enough of a hormone that is important in growth, development, and reproduction, such as testosterone. This can occur as you age or can be something that can occur throughout the lifespan. Those with hypogonadism can experience decreased sex drive, decreased energy levels, infertility, growth of breast tissue, osteoporosis, and hot flashes. It can be caused by genetic abnormalities such as Klinefelter syndrome, infections such as the mumps, an excess of iron in the blood, injury to the testicles, HIV/AIDS, and many more causes. Depending on the cause of the hypogonadism, testosterone cypionate may be able to help.
The final approved use of testosterone cypionate is for the palliative treatment of breast cancer. This is when a person with breast cancer, specifically women, are unable to be operated on to remove their breast cancer. Palliative care focuses on reducing symptoms and improving the quality of life for someone with a chronic or serious illness. The treatment with testosterone helps to temporarily improve the health and well being of women with advanced stage cancers.
How To Know If You Need Testosterone Cypionate
Generally if you know that you or someone you care about are experiencing any of the above conditions you may be a candidate for treatment with testosterone cypionate. However, if you are unsure about your testosterone levels your doctor can test you for hormone levels of testosterone and related hormones.
These tests can either be blood, urine, or saliva tests depending on your doctor. From there your healthcare provider can work with you to decide if testosterone replacement would be helpful for you or not.
Hormone testing is the most accurate way to diagnose low levels of testosterone, although symptoms are helpful in recognizing that there may be a problem.
How Do You Use Testosterone Cypionate?
Testosterone cypionate comes in various forms including muscular injections, injections into the fatty tissue, topical gels, and patches.The form you are prescribed depends on your symptoms, need for the drug, and the preference of your doctor.
For the muscular injections it is typically injected into the gluteal muscle in your buttocks. It may be difficult to do this by yourself, so having someone else to help you may be greatly appreciated. There are various brands of this intramuscular shot, so the directions may vary.
For the injection into the fatty tissue, also known as a subcutaneous injection, will be placed into the abdomen. You will locate a spot at least 2 inches away from the belly button, squeeze the fatty tissue between two fingers, insert the needle at a 90 degree angle, inject the medicine, remove, and cap the needle to dispose of it safely.
Gel products should be applied directly to the skin in the place indicated by your healthcare provider. Do keep in mind that if it touches the skin of someone else, it could have potential effects on them as well. Because of this you want to cover the application site with loose clothing as much as possible to prevent cross medication.
The patch is another popular way that this medication is administered. The patch makes it easy to apply without the mess of a gel or cream. The patch is typically applied to the upper arms, thighs, back, or abdomen. Make sure that the next time you apply a patch that it is in a different location from the last time you applied it, and that you remove the old patch to prevent taking too much medication at once. No matter what type of testosterone cypionate is prescribed, always follow the directions on the product and the directions from your healthcare provider.
How is Your Dose Determined?
The dose of medication is different for each person and depends on a variety of factors. Ultimately, your healthcare provider will be the one to determine your dose, however, they use some of the following to decide exactly what that dose will be.
To begin, each drug has a “lowest dose” that is determined to be safe and effective for people depending on their indication for use. Your doctor will start with this, but also uses your age, size, health history, hormone levels, and the reason you are taking the medication to determine how much you need.
What Are the Side Effects?
Testosterone cypionate does have some side effects that you should be aware of and conscious of when you are taking it. High blood pressure, an increase in libido, itching, and an increase in red blood cells are common side effects that occur when taking this medication. Other side effects that are less common are abdominal pain, abnormal dreams, acne, confusion, depression, diarrhea, mood swings, nose bleeds, burping, headaches, breast tissue growth, nausea, and runny nose.
There are other side effects as well, however your doctor can review them with you depending on the form of the drug that you are prescribed. The drug inserts should also have a comprehensive list of all the possible side effects that can occur.
In summary, testosterone cypionate is a helpful hormone replacement therapy treatment for delayed puberty in boys, low testosterone levels, and palliative care for inoperable breast cancer in women.
Testosterone cypionate is a long acting form of testosterone that makes for weekly dosing and convenient intake. There are various forms to take this medication, each with their own indications, risks, and benefits.
Ultimately, this can act as a guide for what testosterone cypionate is, however, it should be used as an additional resource to what your doctor has told you. Always consult with your healthcare provider for individualized information that applies to you.
Male hypogonadism – Mayo Clinic
Palliative Testosterone Treatment in Women with Advanced Breast Cancer – Acta Radiologica