Topical hormones — keep away from children and pets!

Pediatricians and veterinarians around the country are reporting a strange phenomenon: children are showing signs of premature puberty and spayed dogs and cats (even puppies and kittens) are suddenly becoming hormonal.

Although there can be a myriad of factors contributing to this trend, one culprit has concretely been identified- topical hormone transference. Estrogen and testosterone creams and gels can be very effective in the treatment of sexual dysfunction in both men and women. These systemic creams have also been shown in some studies to support cardiac, bone and brain health.

Whether or not to use these creams is an entirely different discussion but if you are using them it is very important to mindful of the possibility of transferring to others (including pets). Transferring estrogen and/or testosterone to children can have serious consequences. For girls, exposure to excess estrogen can cause early puberty and menstruation, a known risk factor for breast and ovarian cancer later in life. For boys, estrogen can block normal development of male characteristics and stimulate weight gain and breast growth. Exposure to testosterone can cause enlargement of the genitalia (penis or clitoris), premature development of pubic hair, advanced bone age, increased libido, and aggressive behavior in both girls and boys.

In female pets, the symptoms resemble heat: swollen genitals, bloody discharge and behavioral problems. Male pets are showing up with swollen breast tissue and hair loss.

After using a topical hormone cream, patients should thoroughly wash their hands before handling food, children or pets. Products should dry completely before the user comes into contact with people or animals, and the area where they apply the cream or gel should be covered with clothing.