If there is one topic that is misunderstood in the steroid community, it’s Transdermal Steroids(TS’s). The value of TS’s are under-estimated, and the science has been over looked by the vast majority. In this article, I intend to shed some light on TS’s and introduce a few new transdermal options that can offer benefits to athletes, bodybuilders and HRT patients alike.
As a developer of several transdermal products, and a counselor to a number of TRT patients; I’ve learned that a majority of men consider Androgel™ and Testim™ the only real viable topical hormones. This makes sense, being they are the most popular FDA approved testosterone gels currently available. However, there are more options to be considered. Steroid hormones such as nandrolone and boldenone offer useful advantages when delivered topically. Legal prohormones such as DHEA and pregnenolone can also offer great benefits when used topically (Found in Dermacrine). One benefit with all TS’s is their quick clearance from the body (generally less than 72hrs for most hormones). This is advantageous for PCT, when the quick clearance of hormones is desired (often a problem with long-acting injectable steroids which may take months to clear the system.)
Before we review some of the alternatives to testosterone gel, let’s take a quick look at some basic rules so we can have a better understanding of how we can manipulate the hormonal effects for our best interest.
Application site –
The site of application is one way to maximize the effectiveness of our topical hormones, while also altering the action the hormone has on the body. For instance, the skin on the front of the neck is thin and very vascular, making it ideal for systemic transdermal delivery. The skin on the shoulders and upper back – areas where you may have had acne as a teenager — are highly concentrated with steroidogenic enzymes such as 3b HSD and 17a HSD. These are the enzymes required to make hormonal conversions, such as DHEA > androstenediol > testosterone. On the flip side, the stomach area tends to carry a higher amount of the aromatase enzyme, especially if you’re prone to holding fat in the abdominal region. This would be an area to avoid applying testosterone gel, since the increased aromatase activity could increase the conversion to estrogen.
One area which can be advantageous to use for topical application is the scrotal skin. This area is extremely thin and easily penetrated by topical ingredients for systemic delivery. In fact, its absorption rate is about 4-5x more than anywhere else on the body. (1,2) This makes it the perfect spot for the delivery of topical ingredients, giving you more bank for the buck.
One thing to be aware of with scrotal applications is the higher conversion rate to DHT when applying testosterone to this area. There is heavier conversion to DHT because the scrotal skin carries a high concentration of the 5a-reductase enzyme. When the testosterone travels through the scrotal skin it interacts with the 5a-reductase enzyme and converts to DHT. This gives you a significant spike in DHT when you apply testosterone cream to your scrotum, which may or may not be a good thing. (see below for alternatives to testosterone and how to avoid the DHT)
An enlarged or irritated prostate is generally a symptom associated with high DHT. However, the DHT may not be entirely to blame. In fact, research has shown that topical DHT treatment can actually keep the prostate healthy and even reduce its size, as long as estrogen levels are also kept in control. (3,4) Plus, DHT is an antagonist of estrogen, so it’s going to help reduce gyno (male breasts) and water retention, while it also increase libido and erectile function. It could even be argued that DHT is more critical to a man’s well-being than testosterone.
Unfortunately, DHT can increase hair loss if you’re genetically prone to it, although this could be prevented if DHT levels are kept in range, bringing us to the next topic – the progesterone/DHT relationship. That’s right, progesteronecan be healthy for a male too.
The word progesterone may sound frightening to some since it’s primarily known as a female hormone. However, it also offers health benefits for the male if used in very low and controlled amounts. You see, progesterone can naturally inhibit the conversion of testosterone to DHT thus helping to keep DHT in a healthy range (similar to finasteride albeit to a lesser degree). So how does this apply to real life?
Well, pregnenolone cream is legal and readily available in most counties, and as it passes the skin, pregnenolonereadily interacts with the skins enzymes (3b HSD) and makes partial conversion to progesterone. (The reason for applying pregnenolone rather than strait progesterone is the added cognitive enhancements of pregnenolone.) In most cases, a 10-20mg application of pregnenolone cream would convert to sufficient amounts of progesterone to control DHT conversion from testosterone supplementation. (given via IM or topically)
If for whatever reason you don’t want to deal with combating DHT, or are extremely sensitive to its hair loss effects, you may want to consider using nandrolone or boldenone for topical application as alternatives to testosterone. If you’re lucky enough to have access to nandrolone or boldenone base powder, they are easily compounded into a topical and are perfect for transdermal delivery. These hormones are gentler on the hairline because they don’t convert to DHT. More specifically, when they interact with the 5a-reductase enzyme, they are converted to a less powerful 5a-reduced steroid, thus being ‘gentler’ than testosterone. Note: Nandrolone (Deca) can be a double edged sword given that it lacks a powerful 5a-reduced metabolite. It’s beneficial for preventing hair loss, but notorious for erectile dysfunction causes known as “Deca Dick”.
If you’re interested in staying legal and you don’t have access to AAS’s such as testosterone, nandrolone or boldenone, then DHEA is an excellent legal alternative, especially when used as a transdermal. When taken as a transdermal, DHEA is absorbed about 10x better than when taken orally. (5) Plus there is the additional benefit of increased metabolic conversion of hormones when they are taken through the skin. (6) As mentioned earlier, the shoulder and upper back skin have the highest concentration of enzymes required to make hormonal conversions (3b HSD & 17b HSD). Since DHEA is an immediate precursor to several anabolic hormones, the topical application of DHEA can cause a sharp rise in androstenediol, androstenedione and testosterone within a few hours of application. (These are the primary hormones that make Dermacrine so effective)
Remember, no matter what hormones you choose, be aware of moderation and balance.
1. Hypogonadal impotence treated by transdermal testosterone.
McClure RD et al. Urology 1991;37:224-8.
2. Testoderm TTS, Testoderm, and Testoderm with
adhesive [package inserts]. Mountain View, Calif: Alza Pharmaceuticals, 1998.
3. Percutaneous dihydrotestosterone (DHT) treatment. In: Nieschlag E, Behre HM, eds. Testosterone: action, deficiency substitution.
Schaison G, et al Berlin: Springer Verlag; 155-164. (1990)
4. Transdermal dihydrotestosterone and treatment of “andropause”.
de Lignieres B. Ann Med 1993;25: 235-41.
5. High bioavailability of dehydroepiandrosterone administered percutaneously in the rat C Labrie, M Flamand, A Belanger, et al. Endocrinol., Sep 1996; 150: S107 – S118.
6. The in vitro metabolism of dehydroepiandrosterone in human skin.
I Faredin, et al. Med Acad Sci Hung, Jan 1967; 23(2): 169-79.