You’ve probably seen the AndroGel commercials: “What are you waiting for? This is BIG news!”
And according to statistics, the commercials are right – it is big news.
Since it received FDA-approval in 2000, AndroGel has become one of the best-selling testosterone boosters in the industry. In fact, it generated over $1 billion in revenue in 2012 alone. 
Men across the world have turned to AndroGel as a natural solution for treating low testosterone levels.
But what is AndroGel and can it help you improve your performance?
What Is AndroGel?
AndroGel is a prescription gel that contains synthetic testosterone. It is absorbed through the skin, where it releases testosterone continously into the blood stream.
AndroGel is designed specifically to treat men with insufficient testosterone levels. It is not meant for use in women (though a few women have received prescriptions anyway).
According to manufacturers, it is a “daily testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) that can help bring your T levels back to normal with daily use.” However, it is likely that once you discontinue use, your testosterone levels will drop back to earlier levels within 2-3 days.
Clinical Studies. The most popular AndroGel study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Researchers observed AndroGel’s effects on 163 men, though only 123 subjects were considered evaluable. Subjects applied varying AndroGel doses multiple times per day for up to 42 months.
Continuous AndroGel application resulted in a normalized mean serum T and free T levels. Additionally, sexual function and mood parameters improved rapidly and were maintained through the treatment. Although lean body mass increased and fat mass decreased, these changes were not accompanied by significant increases in muscle strength.
Researchers conclude, “Continued application of AndroGel resulted in beneficial effects similar to those with injectables and other transdermal preparations.” 
Is AndroGel a Steroid?
AndroGel contains synthetic testosterone and is a controlled substance. It is illegal to use unless prescribed by a doctor.
According to the FDA:
“Testosterone gel is an androgen and medically indicated for replacement therapy in adult males with deficiency or absence of endogenous testosterone. Testosterone gel products are not FDA-approved for anti-aging, performance-enhancing, muscle building, or endurance purposes. Testosterone is a Schedule III controlled substance, with abuse and misuse potential by athletes, bodybuilders, weight lifters, and young adults engaged in sports.” 
The effects of AndroGel abuse are essentially the same as anabolic steroids. Although short term abuse may result in increased energy levels and performance, over time, the side effects outweigh any potential benefits.
Is AndroGel Safe to Use Regularly?
Long-term studies show AndroGel effectively increases testosterone with minimal side effects when used correctly. Consequently, you may use AndroGel for an extended period of time without putting your health on the line.
However, AndroGel also requires careful monitoring by a physician, especially as your body adjusts to an increase in hormone levels.
Common side effects include the following:
• Breast swelling or tenderness
• Increased acne or hair growth
• Headache or migraine
• Depressed mood
• Changes in sex drive
If you experience any of the following side effects, seek medical help immediately:
• Difficulty urinating or dark urine
• Swelling in the ankles
• Frequent, prolonged, or bothersome erections
• Nausea, stomach pain, loss of appetite
• Low fever
• Clay-colored stools
• Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes.
Concerns About Secondhand Exposure. There have been multiple reports regarding accidental exposure to testosterone via skin-to-skin contact.
Because of these cases, the FDA announced on May 7, 2009 that manufacturers must include a black box warning on the product label.
Despite multiple warnings, however, many consumers fail to use AndroGel properly and put women and children at risk.
AndroGel.com also emphasizes the dangers of secondhand exposure to Androgel:
“AndroGel 1.62% can transfer from your body to others. . . Signs of puberty that are not expected have happened in young children who were accidentally exposed to testosterone through skin-to-skin contact with men using topical testosterone products. . . Women and children should avoid contact with the unwashed or unclothed area where AndroGel 1.62% has been applied. If a woman or child makes contact with the AndroGel 1.62% application area, the contact area on the woman or child should be washed well with soap and water right away.”
But what kind of side effects can occur as a result of secondhand testosterone exposure?
• Inappropriate enlargement of external sexual organs
• Premature development of pubic hair
• Advanced bone growth
• Increased self-stimulation
• Aggressive behavior
• Deepening of the voice
Should any of these symptoms occur in women or children, stop using AndroGel and call your doctor right away.
How to Use AndroGel Correctly
Due to potential side effects caused by accidental exposure, it’s crucial that you apply AndroGel correctly. Take extra precautions while using it to avoid spreading AndroGel accidentally.
Preparation. If you are using AndroGel for the first time, you will need to prime the pump. To prime, slowly push the pump all the way down 3 times. Do not use any gel that came out while priming. Wash it down the sink to avoid accidental exposure to others. You will not need to prime the pump every day, just the first time you use it.
Application. AndroGel is easy to use, but it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully.
1. Apply AndroGel at the same time each morning. AndroGel should be applied after showering or bathing to clean, dry, intact skin.
2. Once primed, press pump down firmly to dispense the gel. Your healthcare provider will tell you how much AndroGel to apply, and your dose may change later depending on how you respond to the medicine. Do not change your dose without talking to your health care provider.
3. Apply the gel to the shoulders and upper arm areas – be sure the gel will be covered by a short-sleeved T-Shirt. Do not apply AndroGel to any other parts of the body, including the abdomen, penis, or scrotum.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you have applied the dose as your doctor has prescribed.
Afterwards. After applying AndroGel, wash your hands with soap and water to avoid spreading the medicine to those around you. Let AndroGel dry for at least 5 minutes before dressing. Be sure the application area is covered with a shirt.
Avoid showering, swimming, or bathing for at least 2 hours after application. Make sure AndroGel is completely dry before smoking or going near an open flame.
What if You Miss a Dose? If you miss a dose, apply AndroGel as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and apply your next regularly scheduled dose. Do not take extra AndroGel to make up for the missed dose.
What’s the Difference Between 1% and 1.62% AndroGel?
AndroGel is available in two different concentrations: 1% and 1.62%. Dosing and application sites vary between the two products.
For example: AndroGel 1.62%’s recommended starting dose is 40.5 mg testosterone (2 pump presses) and should be applied to shoulders and upper arms only. Androgel 1%’s recommended starting dose is 50 mg testosterone or 4 pump presses, and can be applied to the shoulders, upper arms, and stomach area.
Users should wait at least 2 hours after applying 1.62% before showering or swimming, but up to 5 hours after applying 1%.
Are the Two Products Interchangeable? No. Androgel 1.62% and AndroGel 1% dosing and application sites differ between products. They cannot be used interchangeably, though your doctor may eventually switch from one to the other depending on how you respond to the ingredients.
What Consumers Are Saying
AndroGel consumer reviews are fairly mixed. Some users loved its benefits, while others did not respond to the treatment as originally hoped. Some AndroGel users enjoyed the boost in libido it offered but discontinued use due to side effects.
According to RegularGuy at WebMD.com, “I had low T 352. Very low energy level and other issues. I can definitely tell a difference when I apply the gel and when I don’t. Have increased energy level, lost a bit of weight ang in general feel good. I do notice some sensitivity and rash in the application area (upper arm and shoulder areas.) I am afraid to stop using because of the energy difference I have felt.”
To which Krappy replied, “6 months ago I was prescribed Androgel 2% daily because of a testosterone score of 362, which is very low for my age (early 40’s). 6 months later with regular use as recommended I’m down to a score of 250! So obviously hasn’t worked for me and as a bad side effect my testicles are about half the size they used to be! Hope they get back to normal after I stop using this crappy product!”
Such mixed reviews are understandable due to the sheer number of factors that influence AndroGel’s effectiveness. Everyone responds to AndroGel differently, depending on dosage, medical history, and interactions with additional medication.
Will Health Insurance Cover AndroGel?
According to AndroGel.com, “AndroGel 1.62% is available on most managed healthcare plans, so getting reimbursed is usually not a problem.”
Health insurance policies vary between companies, so it’s best to check with your policy before you order your prescription.
If you cannot afford your medication, AndroGel offers a restoration program that enables users to purchase AndroGel for as little as $10 a month, but restrictions apply. More information is available at AndroGel.com.
Partnership for Prescription Assistance is also available to give you the help you need. The program “helps qualifying patients without prescription drug coverage get the medicines they need through the program that is right for them. Many will get their medications free or nearly free.”
To learn more about PPA, call 1-888-477-2669.
More About Abbott Laboratories
AndroGel is owned by Abbott Laboratories, one of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical manufacturers. The company has over 90,000 employees and operates in over 130 countries. In 2010, Abbott generated $35 billion in revenue. 
In 1985, Abbott developed the first HIV blood screen test and has since become the world’s leader in immunoassays and blood screening.
According to The Scientist, Abbott Labs placed 4th on the “Best Places to Work in Industry.” By 2011, the company was ranked as the Top 20 BioPharma Employers by Science – a pretty impressive track record to say the least!
With such an amazing company backing AndroGel, it’s no wonder this product has done so well.
Is AndroGel Worth Trying?
AndroGel has some pros and cons.
In favor of AndroGel, this treatment is clinically proven, backed by experts, and comes highly recommended.
In contrast, AndroGel may cause negative side effects, might not work for everyone, and is only available via doctor’s prescription.
While AndroGel may be a viable option for restoring low testosterone, it might not be the best solution for you. To find out, consult your doctor for additional information.
 Dobrow, Larry. ‘All-Star Large Pharma marketing Team of the Year: AndroGel.” Medical Marketing and Media. Jan 2, 2013. Available from: http://www.mmm-online.com/mmm-all-star-large-pharma-marketing-team-of-the-year-androgel/article/273242/
 Wang C, Cunningham G, Dobs A, Iranmanesh A, Matsumoto AM, Snyder PJ, Weber T, Berman N, Hull L, Swerdloff RS. “Long-term testosterone gel (AndroGel) treatment maintains beneficial effects on sexual function and mood, lean and fat mass, and bone mineral density in hypogonadal men.” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2004 May;89(5):2085-98. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15126525
 “Postmarket Reviews – Volume 2, Number 3, 2009.” FDA Drug Safety Newsletter. Available from : http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/DrugSafetyNewsletter/ucm189806.htm
 Abbot Laboratories Worldwide Fast Facts and Statistics”, Abbott Laboratories. Retrieved March 13, 2009.