Testosterone therapy increases red blood cells and thickens the blood, which can significantly increase a man’s risk of blood clots, heart attack, stroke, and other life-threatening complications. Symptoms of a testosterone blood clot may include leg pain, swelling, shortness of breath, chest pain, and more.
Studies of Testosterone Blood Clots
August 2013 — Dr. Charles Glueck has published a study linking testosterone and blood clots in the journal Clinical and Applied Thrombosis/Hemostasis. The study involved nearly 600 men who were hospitalized with a blood clot in the legs or lungs. According to the study:
“Our research found that 1.2% of men who landed in the hospital with dangerous and potentially lethal blood clots in the deep veins of the legs or in the lungs developed these clots within three months of starting testosterone therapy.”
Several patients developed severe complications of blood clots, including one patient who went blind in one eye, and another patient who developed osteonecrosis of the hip (bone death). These complications occurred when blood clots cut off circulation to part of the body.
How Does Testosterone Cause Blood Clots?
Testosterone therapy makes several physiological changes that predispose blood clotting. These changes include:
- Blood pressure increases
- More red blood cells (polycythemia)
- Thickening of the blood (hyperviscosity)
- Aggregations of platelets
- Reductions in HDL cholesterol (“good cholesterol”)
Furthermore, testosterone increases the amount of estrogen that circulates in the bloodstream. This is concerning, because experts have known for years that estrogen therapy in women increases the risk of blood clots, heart attack, and breast cancer.
Risks & Complications of a Blood Clot
Testosterone therapy is associated with an increased risk of blood clots, which tend to form in the legs or pelvis in a condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). These blood clots can grow extremely large and cut off circulation in the legs. Small pieces of the clot can also break off and get trapped in vital organs, such as the brain, lungs, or kidneys.
Testosterone blood clot risks include:
- Heart attack
- Pulmonary Embolism
- Venous thromboembolism (VTE)
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
- Heart failure
- Kidney damage
- Post-thrombotic syndrome
- Brain damage
- Amputation of the leg