Understandably, that’s not something that they want.
Let me cut to the chase here. The short answer to the question is: yes, it can.
The longer, more accurate answer is: not always, and there are ways to offset this side effect.
First, let me explain why testicular shrinkage can happen when testosterone is administered.
The way that testosterone is normally produced in the body is via a process initiated by the pituitary gland in the brain. The pituitary gland utilizes a hormone (called luteinizing hormone or LH) which sends a signal to “turn on” testosterone production in your testicles, and, accordingly, your testicles start making testosterone, which goes into your bloodstream. When your body senses that there’s enough testosterone in your blood, it sends a signal back to the brain, which slows production.
It’s a system that works remarkably well in healthy young guys. But as you age, your testosterone levels (as well as many other hormone levels) decrease.
One of the ways I increase testosterone in men is by giving them a cream they rub on their body, or by giving an injection. The medication is administered, testosterone is absorbed into the bloodstream, and, just like in the feedback loop described above, this sends a signal to the brain to stop stimulating testosterone production in the testicles.
Since your testicles are the size they are in part because they’re actively producing testosterone, shutting down the production of the hormone can lead to them becoming smaller.
This doesn’t always happen, but it can. The shrinking is generally not permanent, and it’s not dangerous, either.
If this is a worry for a patient, instead of prescribing a cream or injection, I’ll recommend a medication that mimics the luteinizing hormone from the pituitary gland. These medications, called LH analogues, stimulate your testicles to get your body to produce more of your body’s own testosterone. And when that happens, your testicles don’t shrink, because they’re working. The most common of these medication is human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).
LH analogues are a good option for men up to a certain age. At some point in your aging process however, many of the cells you need to produce the testosterone will have naturally atrophied, so it doesn’t matter if you try to stimulate them. That means eventually testosterone itself will need to be administered. In these cases, I’ll still prescribe LH analogues in conjunction with the testosterone as a sort of assistant against testicular shrinkage.
Don’t shrink away from good health. To look and feel your best as you age, call The Body Well today at (323) 874-9355 and schedule an hormone evaluation. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.