Pellet Therapy: You Ask, We Answer

The comments board has recently lit up with inquiries about pellet therapy – is it safe? How does it work? Where can I try it? Dr. Jennifer Landa, one of our experts and the Chief Medical Officer of BodyLogicMD, shares the details of this not-so-new, but very “now” topic.

By Dr. Jennifer Landa

Pellet therapy has been around since the 1930s, in fact, the concept is probably about the same age as Premarin, but much like other bioidentical hormones, it has been shunned because it lacked FDA approval and the population at large was afraid, but in 2008, the FDA approved Slate Pharmaceuticals’ Testopel, bioidentical testosterone delivered via pellet insertion.

The effectiveness of this delivery method for bioidentical hormones is catching on fast, for men and women.  Not only because of the FDA approval, but because it has been proven in recent studies to be the most safe and effective method for hormone therapy. In February 2012, the two published studies cited the effectiveness of testosterone therapy in women. The first study, published in the “Journal of Sexual Medicine” revealed that testosterone therapy was effective in treating low sexual desire and without risk of cardiovascular disease, breast cancer or adverse endometrial effects. The second study, published in the journal, “Maturitas,” further confirmed testosterone treatment, particularly testosterone pellet therapy, as effective in reducing the severity of migraines in pre- and post-menopausal women.

Not only has pellet therapy been proven safe and effective for men and women in recent studies, but BodyLogicMD, the nation’s largest network of bioidentical hormone doctors, offers pellet therapy – 43 of the 60+ doctors nationwide offer this alternative.

Although medical experts versed in pellet therapy will site the primary benefits of this treatment over other delivery methods as things like:

  • Last 3 to 6 months after insertion
  • No possibility of transference (like with creams)
  • More effective physiological uptake

You are more likely to be interested in how it will change your life. Testosterone therapy, particularly in pellet form has been shown to be what I like to call the “executive’s secret to success.” Male or female, testosterone therapy has been proven to:

  • Increase energy
  • Improve memory
  • Balance moods
  • Restore libido
  • Decrease body fat
  • Increase muscle tone
  • Improve bone density
  • Boost self-esteem
  • Prevent breast cancer

For men, testosterone pellet therapy can improve erectile dysfunction (including throwing out your Viagra) and I have patients with high-profile jobs, aged 65 and older, who, with testosterone therapy are now able to keep up with their younger co-workers. Low testosterone is a common problem in the aging male. It can affect multiple aspects of their lives, including sex drive, incontinence and maintenance of muscle mass.  Men who have lost their testosterone feel as if they have lost their “edge” – they feel less motivated to do almost anything (business, hobbies, etc…)

Many women tread carefully when I suggest testosterone therapy, but just as with men, when this hormone runs low – it affects multiple aspects of their lives. One of my favorite quotes about testosterone therapy in women says, “Testosterone is a woman’s emotional shield.” Testosterone is the hormone that helps us keep our emotions in check and ensures we don’t break down and cry over an AT&T commercial. Low testosterone also affects a woman’s weight and sex drive. Without enough testosterone gaining and sustaining lean body mass can be difficult. As we all know, testosterone is the hormone of desire and arousal – with low levels women may simply lose their sex drive.

Insertion is a simple in-office procedure and is less painful than drawing blood. Your doctor applies local anesthesia and makes an incision in the backside of the hip area, placing the pellet inside, which is smaller than a Tic-Tac and only slightly larger than a grain of rice. Patients will not feel the pellet beneath the skin and no stitches are necessary – the incision is so small, it can be closed up with a piece of tape.

Safety is probably the next big question now that everyone is aware of the “magical benefits” of the pellet. In 2009, just after the FDA approved Testopel, the “Journal of Sexual Medicine” published a study analyzing the data from studies of pellet therapy as far back as December of 2003 through April of 2008. The study focused on male subjects and found that of 86 percent of the patients were satisfied with the improvement of their symptoms and the ease of the insertion. No patient that followed post-insertion directions experienced any adverse side effects, such as infection or pellet extrusion.

Testopel is comprised of the bioidentical hormone, testosterone, containing approximately 75mg of the hormone. The pellet is made from soy and is pure testosterone. (No side-effects have been observed in soy sensitive individuals as the amount is very minimal.) Hormones are slowly released into the bloodstream over the course of 3 to 6 months, delivering the hormone in doses similar to the way the body does when functioning optimally (such as in youth.)  Ultimately, the pellet slowly and safely disintegrates over time and does not need to be removed.

Testosterone delivered by pellet implant, has been used to treat migraines and menstrual headaches. It also helps with vaginal dryness, incontinence, urinary urgency and frequency. In both men and women, testosterone has been shown to increase energy, relieve depression, increase sense of well-being, relieve anxiety and improve memory and concentration. Testosterone pellets increase lean body mass (muscle strength, bone density) and decrease fat mass. Men and women need adequate levels of testosterone for optimal mental and physical health and for the prevention of chronic illnesses like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, which have been associated with low testosterone levels.


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Comments: 2

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  • Sheila

    Why have you danced around the fact that it is not approved for use in women?

    • Thanks for asking Sheila. You are correct that Testopel is not approved for use in women. However, under the care of a physician, testosterone pellet therapy, in general, is safe and effective for use in women with low testosterone levels, who are not pregnant or are not seeking to become pregnant. In fact, I use the testosterone pellet myself – and it makes a difference! 🙂 As with most drugs, there may be side effects in some patients, but those may be minimized under the care of your physician. Although not yet FDA-approved, estrogen pellets are available for women as well. If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact one of our doctors’ offices. Simply fill out this form and someone will contact you to answer all your questions: Thanks Shelia – have a wonderful day!

      -Menopause MANIAC