Harvard Heart Letter

Testosterone therapy may not be as safe as once thought

Screening men for cardiovascular risks before starting testosterone therapy may help avert dangerous blood clots.

Image: Thinkstock

Lessons learned from women's health are helping doctors decipher the risks of hormone use in men.

For decades women have been cautioned that estrogen-containing medications such as birth control pills or postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy could increase their chances of developing blood clots. However, men taking the male hormone testosterone were thought to be immune to such cardiovascular problems. A sharp upswing in recent reports of venous thromboembolism (VTE)—including clots in the deep leg veins (deep-vein thrombosis) and lungs (pulmonary embolism)—among men on testosterone, has forced a re-examination of the risk.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »