Like various other steroids, testosterone too belongs to the category of compounds that have various uses as an anabolic or body building drug. Testosterone belongs to a category of drugs known as Anabolic- Androgenic steroids or AAS for short.
Among the various uses of testosterone these are the most common:
1) Use in treatment of hypogonadism – both primary and secondary types.
2) Short stature
3) In the treatment of osteoporosis
4) Treatment of PEM or protein energy malnutrition
5) Serious burns cases
6) Severe wounds
7) Chronic wounds
8) As an adjunct in long term use of cortico-steroids
9) HIV infection with wasting of the body.
The main use of testosterone is in hormone replacement therapy especially when the testes produce small or no hormone as a result of atrophy (shrinking testes) or hypoplasia (small testes since birth). In persons with a short stature, testosterone helps increase the patient’s height. In osteopenia and osteoporosis use of testosterone may be perscribed to increase the bone mass and calcium content in conjunction with other drugs notably calcium supplements.
Similarly, testosterone may be used cautiously in the treatment of wasting of muscles in conditions such as PCM (protein calorie malnutrition) or PEM (protein energy malnutrition). This is a condition where there is severe nutritional deficiency of both proteins and carbohydrates. In HIV (AIDS) cases, patients tend to lose weight and muscle mass due to wasting of the skeletal muscles. This can be corrected to some extent by the use of testosterone. In both the above mentioned cases, there is significant change and improvement in the patient’s condition after the use of testosterone.
In the treatment of chronic wounds, there is significant improvement of collagen synthesis and subsequent wound healing as a result. This is especially true of burn wounds. In cancer cases too, there is often severe loss of body tissue. Testosterone induces improvement of the condition by increasing bone and muscle mass. Similarly in patients with liver failure, use of testosterone helps improve the associated weight loss. Similar results are seen with renal failure patients on dialysis. Here use of testosterone improves the blood count of RBC (red blood cells). Also, it must be mentioned that in patients with paralysis of 2 or more limbs, quadriplegia and hemiplegia, there is significant improvement of the patients’ condition after use of small amounts of testosterone. Testosterone has helped improve the basal metabolic index (BMI) significantly due to increase in such persons’ muscle and bone mass.
In all these cases the anabolic effect of testosterone is the main factor that comes into play, resulting in immediate improvement of the patient’s condition. In COPD, (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), there is severe difficulty in respiration. These patients also lose weight and muscle mass as a result of poor mobility and increase morbidity. Testosterone can help the patient significantly in breaking this vicious cycle. In all the above conditions, testosterone must be used with caution and only under the careful supervision of a trained physician, as the drug has potent adverse effects, especially in long term use.
For additional information see Testosterone