Your total and free testosterone levels play critical roles in your well-being. When your total testosterone levels are low and you’re showing symptoms of testosterone deficiency, your healthcare provider might suggest trying testosterone undecanoate — a form of oral testosterone.
For patients, it’s sometimes confusing to grasp the subtle differences but the truth is, testosterone does not equal testosterone. There are various different types of testosterone, including testosterone cypionate, testosterone enanthate, and testosterone undecanoate.
So how does your doctor know which one works best for you?
Your healthcare provider will take an array of factors into account before deciding which testosterone therapy might be most effective for you.
These factors include:
- your total and free testosterone levels,
- your symptoms,
- the severity and frequency of your symptoms.
It’s further important to discuss your preferred route of administration — which should be compatible with your lifestyle and work schedule.
Let’s explore what testosterone undecanoate is and how it’s different from other forms of testosterone.
What is Testosterone Undecanoate?
Testosterone therapy comes in various forms and ranges from oral testosterone, to injections, gels, patches, and nasal sprays. Testosterone undecanoate or TU is a long-acting formulation of testosterone that can be taken orally or can be administered via intramuscular injection.
The oral route of administration, in particular, marks a convenient and painless way to take testosterone daily. It’s considered a critical therapeutic advancement that aids in maintaining healthy testosterone levels in men with testosterone deficiency.
The first oral testosterone undecanoate in the United States was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2019 — while the first TU product was commercialized outside of the U.S. as early as the 1970s.
Most forms of oral testosterone reach their testosterone peak within 5 hours, which means that it has to be taken more than once per day — albeit newer versions of oral testosterone undecanoate only require to be taken twice daily.
A Little History: The Story Behind Testosterone Undecanoate
In an attempt to provide a convenient therapeutic option for the treatment of hypogonadism (low testosterone), researchers explored ways to develop a long-lasting formulation of testosterone that could be administered orally. This marked the beginning of testosterone undecanoate.
Oral forms of testosterone were initially introduced as methylated formulations with methyltestosterone being discovered in the 1930s. However, the long-term use of methylated groups was found to be toxic, potentially contributing to liver problems.
As oral testosterone evolved, testosterone undecanoate was introduced in Europe and Asia and was formulated so that it could bypass the liver with a clear shift to lymphatic absorption. Several forms of testosterone undecanoate have been made commercially available since then with various dosages and products on the market today.
The most recently approved form of oral testosterone undecanoate showed high efficacy in hypogonadal men by day 90 — after completion of the clinical study. The most commonly observed side effect was elevated blood pressure.
Why Your Doctor Might Suggest Oral Testosterone for You
Oral testosterone is easy and convenient to take and doesn’t involve some of the messes that transdermal testosterone therapies can cause. Gels and patches, for instance, need to be absorbed fully to successfully maintain normal testosterone levels — which requires additional time out of your daily schedule.
Moreover, when you’re using transdermal testosterone you need to fully avoid contact with other people, especially children, so you can ensure the testosterone doesn’t transfer over to another person.
Injections, on the other hand, have been shown to have high efficacy levels but oftentimes require you to make additional appointments with your doctor to have the injection administered as most patients shy away from self-administering injections at home. Most patients also dislike the pain, albeit temporary, that comes with receiving injections.
Oral testosterone, however, is available as capsules and can be administered easily by yourself, without causing pain or creating messes. It, therefore, gives you back valuable time of your day and makes for a convenient and easy testosterone therapy option.
Another benefit of oral testosterone is its lymphatic absorption that bypasses the liver — with long-lasting formulations available to patients, so you only need to take the testosterone undecanoate capsules twice daily.
Testosterone undecanoate is further available in various dosages allowing for the treatment of patients with a wide range of testosterone levels.
Benefits of Oral Testosterone
Oral testosterone is quickly gaining popularity due to the valuable benefits it can provide to you. Here’s a list of just a few of those benefits summed up:
(1) Lymphatic Absorption
Oral testosterone undecanoate bypasses the liver through lymphatic absorption — and avoids liver problems, even with long-term use.
(2) It’s Convenient to Take
Softgel capsules of oral testosterone are commercially available and easy to take.
(3) It’s a Painless Testosterone Therapy Option
Oral testosterone doesn’t involve any pain as other therapeutic options like intramuscular or subcutaneous injections do.
(4) No Messes
Testosterone gels can be messy to use and absorption may be unreliable — while oral testosterone allows for consistency.
(5) Multiple Dosages Available
There are several drug dosages available for oral testosterone making it a therapeutic option for men with varying testosterone levels.
(6) It Preserves Your Natural Production of Testosterone
By preserving your brain’s natural ability to produce testosterone on its own, your body can go back to making testosterone even after you’ve been on testosterone undecanoate.
(7) Long-Acting Formulation Available
Testosterone undecanoate is available in multiple forms with most taking at least four hours before testosterone levels peak — meaning, many formulations are long-acting, which is good for your overall testosterone maintenance.
Oral testosterone thus makes for a reliable therapeutic option for hypogonadal men and helps to successfully treat testosterone deficiency.
Testosterone Undecanoate Might Be Your Answer
If you’re testosterone deficient, it’s important you reach out to your doctor to evaluate your total and free testosterone levels. If you’re experiencing common symptoms, like low libido and erectile dysfunction, in addition to having low T levels, it might be time for testosterone therapy — which includes testosterone undecanoate.
While many forms and types of testosterone are currently on the market, testosterone undecanoate is available as an oral softgel and comes with an array of benefits, all of which can help you get back on track to normal testosterone levels.
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