Testosterone: Gel vs Injections

I recently switched up my testosterone prescription. I am now using Androgel, after nearly 4 years of injections. I am really pleased with the change and thought I’d compare and contrast the two experiences.

I initially started with injections for two reasons. First, the cost–it’s generally much cheaper. (If you’re paying for testosterone cypionate out of pocket, you might want to look into Strohecker’s Pharmacy. Affordable and awesome.) Second, my doctor informed me that people usually see faster changes with injections, and fast changes were my no. 1 priority at the time.

I’m a rather anxious person, and over the last few years I developed a very negative relationship with my shots. In the beginning, I was highly motivated to get T into my system, so I didn’t really care. Once hormones changed from a matter of urgency to plain old health maintenance, I found it harder and harder to do the shots. I also found the shots got a lot more painful as I shed fat and gained muscle. Alma dutifully did every single one of my injections, despite my frequent complaining about them. (Thank you!!!) I kept thinking things would improve with time, but in fact, they got worse and worse. A couple months ago, I finally decided I’d had enough.

With some effort, I found an affordable way to get the gel. My insurance covers it at a great price if I get it through a special home delivery pharmacy, and it works out to be only slightly more expensive than the injections ($160/year vs $120/year). I’ll be aging off my dad’s insurance plan in a year; hopefully I will be able to continue to get the gel at a reasonable price after that. We’ll see.

Some things I love about switching to Androgel:

  • No needles!
  • No pain!
  • I can do everything myself (never worked up the nerve to do my own injections)
  • Levels feel more even (used to get breakouts & feel low-energy at the end of my shot cycle)

A few things I don’t like about Androgel:

  • Volume of gel I have to apply. I am on a lower dose (3 pumps/day, similar to 75mg/week in injection terms) and it’s still so. much. gel.
  • Worrying about accidentally exposing someone else to T (namely Alma)
  • Skin is a bit dry and itchy where I apply the gel

The few downsides are minor inconveniences. I’ve switched my showers from morning to night, so that takes care of the accidental exposure issue. Lotion is helping with the skin irritation. I will get my levels checked in a few months to make sure the gel is doing its job. All in all I’m really pleased with the switch.

Readers who take hormones–what method do you use?

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9 comments

  1. Lesboi

    I started on a low dose of the gel and gradually increased it over time. Personally, I prefer the injections simply due to not having to think about it everyday and deal with the mess. I didn’t like how it made the skin on my upper arms felt from it but it seemed to work ok. I’m ok with giving myself shots and don’t mind it. I noticed a huge jump in results when I switched too. If you’re just maintaining what you have I think the gel is fine for that but I think if you’re trying to see changes it’s pretty slow. I think I did two pumps per day and thought that created a lot of mess. Three pumps is a lot to soak in. That’s my two cents.

  2. resident_alien

    Try hemp seed oil for dry itchy skin.Worked like a charm for a friend of mine when he had the same problem with testosterone gel. A common side effect, apparently…

  3. journeytojames

    I’m going to be starting testosterone soon and will be doing injections I imagine (I haven’t been told otherwise). I hope I don’t get to the point where I chicken out and just start skipping. Do you know if having a skin disorder (namely severe eczema) would affect one’s eligibility to use the gel should I want to use it in the future?

    • rimonim

      I hope the injections work well for you, dude! I’m glad I went with injections early on just for the faster results. I’m not sure about how skin disorders would affect using gel. I have eczema (not sure whether mine would be considered severe) and easily irritated skin, and it hasn’t been an issue beyond the slight dryness. I have way more trouble finding deodorant that doesn’t destroy my skin than I’ve had with the gel.

  4. transginger

    I inject sub-q into the side of my thigh. So far no major issues and for me it’s way less painful than stabbing needles into my muscles and potentially hitting the sciatic nerve in my hip. I know lots of guys who have switched to topical, but my fear is transference. Particularly because my ex-partner is bipolar, and any transference could have scary results. Since we still live together, it’s still a concern. Most of the guys I know that have switched from injections to gel, did so several years into their transition, more for maintenance reasons. Like some have said, the changes aren’t as noticeable, or as fast, but it seems to be the method of choice for those later into their transition. :)

    • rimonim

      I didn’t realize switching to the gel later on was something a lot of guys do, but it makes sense. I’m just trying to feel good in my body, maintain my current body-fat distribution, etc. My changes had slowed to a molasses crawl in the last couple years–body and facial hair sloooooowly filling in, etc. I’m not as familiar with sub-q injections but it sounds like a great option.

  5. sirfallsalot

    I’m 20 weeks into my hrt and I’m on 1 pump of Androgel daily. I began with 2 pumps, but my T levels shot up in the first month. I received a call from the doc and had my dosage decreased to 1 pump. My levels remained high and my red blood count started to go up as well through months 2-4…

    Needless to say, lots of doc appts.

    At least since the last appt my levels have been normal (with 1 pump per day). You can really tell the difference from when it’s too high via absence of hot flashes. I had some killer hot flashes haha.

    I’m not sure really where my transition is on the ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ scale, but the changes seem to be alright for me. Of course I would like to have it all now, but that’s not healthy, I don’t think.. I may or may not have to switch to injections in the future – it all depends on insurance. Right now I’ve got the Androgel for $120 a year with my dad’s insurance. October of 2015 is my 26th birthday, so I’ll be fending for myself. I really don’t want to do injections, so I think I’d chuck out the extra money to continue on Androgel in the long-run. It all depends.

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