Testosterone is an androgen hormone which regulates the development of the male reproductive system and male secondary sex characteristics (such as facial hair).
Testosterone regulation involves using drugs called gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists to reduce the amount of testosterone in the body.
There are a number of gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists, each of which is sold under a variety of brand names. For example, the drug leuprolide is sold under the brand names Prostap, Viadur, Eligard and Lupron.
Testosterone regulation is normally used to treat people with one or more medical conditions including advanced prostate cancer, precocious puberty, endometriosis or anaemia caused by uterine fibroids.
Some researchers believe that some individuals on the autism spectrum have too much testosterone and an excess of heavy metals in their bodies. They believe that testosterone regulation, used alongside other treatments, can help to reduce the amount of testosterone and heavy metals in the body.
They also believe that this can lead to a decrease in the core features of autism and some challenging behaviours (such as hyperactivity/impulsivity, aggression, self-injury, severe sexual behaviours, and irritability).
The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) made the following recommendation.
'Do not use testosterone regulation for the management of core symptoms of autism in adults.' (NICE, 2012)
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists are very powerful drugs and are designed to change the hormonal balance in adults. Used on children or adolescents, they could cause disastrous and irreversible damage to sexual functioning.
They can also be very expensive, with some providers charging anywhere between $200-$2,000 per injection.
There is no high quality research evidence to suggest that regulating testosterone provides any benefits to people on the autism spectrum.
For all of these reasons we believe that regulating testosterone should not be used as a treatment for individuals on the autism spectrum, unless and only if it is used to treat specific medical conditions, such as prostate cancer, for which it was designed.
Please read our Disclaimer on Autism Interventions