Testosterone is the main hormone associated with muscle mass, strength gains, and libido. But that's far from the only thing it does in the body. As Chris Lockwood, Ph.D., explains in the article "All About Testosterone," it impacts everything from mood and memory to bone health—but yes, to be clear, it also makes muscles bigger and stronger, and helps increase endurance and athletic performance.
Ashwagandha: One of the hottest herbs out there right now, this adaptogen packs a one-two punch. First, it helps the body fight off stress: According to one Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine study, ashwagandha has a cortisol-lowering effect—a major benefit to anyone who wants their body to be more T-friendly. And, second, it can also support your T-boosting training efforts. One Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition study, for example, found that men who supplemented with ashwagandha saw significantly greater strength and T gains after eight weeks of resistance training than those who took a placebo.
Transdermal preparations of testosterone utilize the fact that the skin readily absorbs steroid hormones. Initial transdermal preparations took the form of scrotal patches with testosterone loaded on to a membranous patch. Absorption from the scrotal skin was particularly good and physiological levels of testosterone with diurnal variation were reliably attained. The scrotal patches are now rarely used because they require regular shaving or clipping of scrotal hair and because they produce rather high levels of dihydrotestosterone compared to testosterone (Behre et al 1999). Subsequently, non-scrotal patches were developed but the absorptive capacity of non-scrotal skin is much lower, so these patches contain additional chemicals which enhance absorption. The non-scrotal skin patches produce physiological testosterone levels without supraphysiological dihydrotestosterone levels. Unfortunately, the patches produce a high rate of local skin reactions often leading to discontinuation (Parker and Armitage 1999). In the last few years, transdermal testosterone gel preparations have become available. These require daily application by patients and produce steady state physiological testosterone levels within a few days in most patients (Swerdloff et al 2000; Steidle et al 2003). The advantages compared with testosterone patches include invisibility, reduced skin irritation and the ability to adjust dosage, but concerns about transfer to women and children on close skin contact necessitate showering after application or coverage with clothes.
Vitamin D, a steroid hormone, is essential for the healthy development of the nucleus of the sperm cell, and helps maintain semen quality and sperm count. Vitamin D also increases levels of testosterone, which may boost libido. In one study, overweight men who were given vitamin D supplements had a significant increase in testosterone levels after one year.5
Trials of testosterone treatment in men with type 2 diabetes have also taken place. A recent randomized controlled crossover trial assessed the effects of intramuscular testosterone replacement to achieve levels within the physiological range, compared with placebo injections in 24 men with diabetes, hypogonadism and a mean age of 64 years (Kapoor et al 2006). Ten of these men were insulin treated. Testosterone treatment led to a significant reduction in glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C) and fasting glucose compared to placebo. Testosterone also produced a significant reduction in insulin resistance, measured by the homeostatic model assessment (HOMA), in the fourteen non-insulin treated patients. It is not possible to measure insulin resistance in patients treated with insulin but five out of ten of these patients had a reduction of insulin dose during the study. Other significant changes during testosterone treatment in this trial were reduced total cholesterol, waist circumference and waist-hip ratio. Similarly, a placebo-controlled but non-blinded trial in 24 men with visceral obesity, diabetes, hypogonadism and mean age 57 years found that three months of oral testosterone treatment led to significant reductions in HbA1C, fasting glucose, post-prandial glucose, weight, fat mass and waist-hip ratio (Boyanov et al 2003). In contrast, an uncontrolled study of 150 mg intramuscular testosterone given to 10 patients, average age 64 years, with diabetes and hypogonadism found no significant change in diabetes control, fasting glucose or insulin levels (Corrales et al 2004). Another uncontrolled study showed no beneficial effect of testosterone treatment on insulin resistance, measured by HOMA and ‘minimal model’ of area under acute insulin response curves, in 11 patients with type 2 diabetes aged between 33 and 73 years (Lee et al 2005). Body mass index was within the normal range in this population and there was no change in waist-hip ratio or weight during testosterone treatment. Baseline testosterone levels were in the low-normal range and patients received a relatively small dose of 100 mg intramuscular testosterone every three weeks. A good increase in testosterone levels during the trial is described but it is not stated at which time during the three week cycle the testosterone levels were tested, so the lack of response could reflect an insufficient overall testosterone dose in the trial period.
Autopsy studies have found histological prostate cancer to be very common, with one series showing a prevalence of greater than fifty percent in men over age sixty (Holund 1980). The majority of histological cancers go undetected so that the clinical incidence of the disease is much lower, but it is still the most prevalent non-skin cancer in men (Jemal et al 2003). Prostate cancer is also unusual in comparison to other adult cancers in that the majority of those with the disease will die of other causes. Treatment of prostate cancer with androgen deprivation is known to be successful and is widely practiced, indicating an important role for testosterone in modifying the behavior of prostate cancer. In view of this, testosterone treatment is absolutely contraindicated in any case of known or suspected prostate cancer. The question of whether testosterone treatment could cause new cases of prostate cancer, or more likely cause progression of undiagnosed histological prostate cancer that would otherwise have remained occult, is an important consideration when treating ageing males with testosterone.
Get out of here with your quackery nonsense. No one likes trolls that want to push diet and weight loss pills as a serious solution to low t and ED. Anyone who reads your comment will waste at least 20 seconds of their life. What’s worse, they might listen to you instead of getting real medical advice that might actually help with an issue that is devastating to their lifestyle. And btw, before you decide to respond to this with more quackery, testimonials or fake research, know that I am a pharmaceutical scientist and won’t fall for your bogus statements
Lose some weight – It goes without saying that being overweight is unhealthy for more than one reason. As your weight increases, your testosterone levels decrease inevitably. The good news is that as soon as you start losing weight, you can reverse this process and your testosterone levels will begin rising again. Could you think of a better reason to exercise regularly?
A: Testosterone products can improve a male's muscle strength and create a more lean body mass. Typically, these effects are not noticed within the first two weeks of therapy, but it is possible that he is more sensitive and responds well to the therapy. Some of the other more common side effects of testosterone patches are headache, depression, rash, changes in libido, acne, male pattern baldness, and increased cholesterol levels. This is not a complete list of the side effects associated with testosterone patches. Megan Uehara, PharmD
I think that the biggest hurdle for most physicians prescribing testosterone is the fear that they’re going to promote prostate cancer. [See “Incongruous findings,” below.] That’s because more than six decades ago, it was shown that if you lowered testosterone in men whose prostate cancer had metastasized, their condition improved. (It became a standard therapy that we still use today for men with advanced prostate cancer. We call it androgen deprivation or androgen-suppressive therapy.) The thinking became that if lowering testosterone makes prostate cancer disappear, at least for a while, then raising it must make prostate cancer grow. But even though it’s been a widely held belief for six decades, no one has found any additional evidence to support the theory.
Testosterone levels peak by early adulthood and drop as you age—about 1% to 2% a year beginning in the 40s. As men reach their 50s and beyond, this may lead to signs and symptoms, such as impotence or changes in sexual desire, depression or anxiety, reduced muscle mass, less energy, weight gain, anemia, and hot flashes. While falling testosterone levels are a normal part of aging, certain conditions can hasten the decline. These include:
“Life for the winner is more glorious. It enters the next round of competition with already elevated testosterone levels, and this androgenic priming gives it an edge that increases its chances of winning yet again. Through this process an animal can be drawn into a positive-feedback loop, in which victory leads to raised testosterone levels which in turn leads to further victory.”
There is a polymorphic CAG repeat sequence in the androgen receptor gene, which codes for a variable number of glutamine amino acids in the part of the receptor affecting gene transcription. A receptor with a short CAG sequence produces greater activity when androgens attach, and men with shorter CAG polymorphisms exhibit androgenic traits, such as preserved bone density (Zitzmann et al 2001) and prostate growth during testosterone treatment (Zitzmann et al 2003). Indirect evidence of the importance of androgens in the development of prostate cancer is provided by case control study findings of a shorter, more active CAG repeat sequence in the androgen receptor gene of patients with prostate cancer compared with controls (Hsing et al 2000, 2002).
We scoured the database of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (part of the U.S. National Library of Science) for articles. Of the many ingredients marketed as boosting testosterone levels, we only found four backed by multiple articles based on human testing. For the best chance of boosting testosterone levels, a supplement needs to contain magnesium, fenugreek, and longjack — and some zinc wouldn’t go astray, either.
After 90 days, it seemed like the Andro Gel kind of stopped having it’s effect. Went back to see the doc, and my levels had dropped back to about 198 from high 200’s. Doc said it’s not unusual that the body gets used to it, and maybe I needed to adjust up. I switched to four pumps per day, and I felt immediate effects. Now…there is a period of ultra-horniness, and sometimes, you will feel some of the “roid rage” at some of these levels. It varies from person to person. Generally, if you are an ass, or high strung, this will amplify it. If you are pretty mellow, you may notice that every once in a while you’ll get angry at something that does matter, but again, it’s different person to person.
Epidemiological evidence supports a link between testosterone and glucose metabolism. Studies in non-diabetic men have found an inverse correlation of total or free testosterone with glucose and insulin levels (Simon et al 1992; Haffner et al 1994) and studies show lower testosterone levels in patients with the metabolic syndrome (Laaksonen et al 2003; Muller et al 2005; Kupelian et al 2006) or diabetes (Barrett-Connor 1992; Andersson et al 1994; Rhoden et al 2005). A study of patients with type 2 diabetes using measurement of serum free testosterone by the gold standard method of equilibrium dialysis, found a 33% prevalence of biochemical hypogonadism (Dhindsa et al 2004). The Barnsley study demonstrated a high prevalence of clinical and biochemical hypogonadism with 19% having total testosterone levels below 8 nmol/l and a further 25% between 8–12 nmol/l (Kapoor, Aldred et al 2007). There are also a number longitudinal studies linking low serum testosterone levels to the future development of the metabolic syndrome (Laaksonen et al 2004) or type 2 diabetes (Haffner et al 1996; Tibblin et al 1996; Stellato et al 2000; Oh et al 2002; Laaksonen et al 2004), indicating a possible role of hypogonadism in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes in men. Alternatively, it has been postulated that obesity may be the common link between low testosterone levels and insulin resistance, diabetes and cardiovascular disease (Phillips et al 2003; Kapoor et al 2005). With regard to this hypothesis, study findings vary as to whether the association of testosterone with diabetes occurs independently of obesity (Haffner et al 1996; Laaksonen et al 2003; Rhoden et al 2005).
Men who start using the gels have to come back in to have their testosterone levels measured again to make sure they’re absorbing the right amount. Our target is the mid to upper range of normal, which usually means around 500 to 600 ng/dl. The concentration of testosterone in the blood actually goes up quite quickly, within a few doses. I usually measure it after two weeks, though symptoms may not change for a month or two.
Looking purely at the biochemical numbers, The Endocrine Society* considers low testosterone to be a total testosterone level of less than 300 ng/dl, and I think that’s a reasonable guide. But no one quite agrees on a number. It’s not like diabetes, where if your fasting glucose is above a certain level, they’ll say, “Okay, you’ve got it.” With testosterone, that break point is not quite as clear.
I noticed that you say that those that have prostate cancer should not have testosterone replacement therapy, Why-in light of the studies that say that there is no danger from testosterone therapy to one that had/has prostate cancer? If this is your opinion do you have any suggestions as to what I should do about my symptoms? Does testosterone replacement therapy actually do anything?
However, if you have normal testosterone levels and are looking for a boost, for strength gaining purposes, then D-Aspartic acid use may prove less fruitful. A study published in Nutrition Research showed that when the booster was given to men who resistance trained four times a week, their body composition and muscle strength was no different to men who took part in resistance training without the aid of D-Aspartic acid.
Short bursts of timed intense activity — known as high-intensity interval training or HIIT — trigger the body to make more testosterone than less-than-intense aerobic or endurance exercise, says La Puma. Spurts of activity stimulate androgen-sensitive tissue, he explains, which tells the body to make more testosterone. Strength training has also been shown to increase testosterone.
Finally, related to the point about competitiveness above, studies have shown that testosterone levels not only go up before a fight or competition, they increase after each win, and this gives the winner a much higher probability of winning his next round, and the next round after that, even against evenly matched competitors. This is called the “winner-effect,” and John Coates, author of The Hour Between Dog and Wolf: Risk Taking, Gut Feelings and the Biology of Boom and Bust, explains why it works:
After various studies in animals had shown anabolic (muscle building) properties among the various Fenugreek benefits, a study was conducted on men undergoing resistance training. During the study the participants trained in a supervised manner 4 times a week for 8 weeks. Although the levels of DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) were reduced in those taking the Fenugreek supplement, other hormonal markers were not affected. Another study further supported those findings, while also reporting that those taking the supplement witnessed an additional 2kg of fat loss and 2kg more muscle mass gain over the same period. Impressive results indeed.
We should probably start with the elephant in the room: do these supplements increase testosterone? The answer is probably yes. There are some ingredients that help convince your body to produce more testosterone, but there’s a catch. Testosterone boosters aren’t actually great at boosting; that is, at pushing your testosterone levels above your healthy, normal balance. Boosters typically act more like restorers — helping bring low testosterone levels back to that healthy equilibrium rather than boosting you above normal testosterone levels. Just like how if you have anemia, taking a vitamin B12 supplement can help restore your energy and reduce fatigue, but if your B12 levels are good, a supplement won’t give you super energy levels to stay awake for three days — your body will likely just process (read: pee) out the extra.
I’m afraid I have no super cool “secrets” to share and there are no easy shortcuts to increasing your T. If you were expecting some magical potion or supplement or weird body hack that will instantly and naturally increase your T levels, what follows is bound to disappoint. Despite what some companies or websites might tell you, there’s no single thing that will boost your testosterone naturally for the long term.
The general recommendation is that men 50 and older who are candidates for testosterone therapy should have a DRE and a PSA test. If either is abnormal, the man should be evaluated further for prostate cancer, which is what we do with everybody whether they have low testosterone or not. That means a biopsy. But if all of those results are normal, then we can initiate testosterone therapy. The monitoring that needs to happen for men who begin testosterone therapy is really very simple: DRE, PSA, and a blood test for hematocrit or hemoglobin, once or twice in the first year and then yearly after that, which is pretty much what we recommend for most men over age 50 anyway.
Hello I’m 22 years old and for years I’ve been struggling with hypothyroidism and depression. Recently I went to check my blood for low T and was shocked but not surprised at the level (125). That’s terrible for a 22 year old given that’s the time my testosterone is supposed to be the highest. Anyways I’ve been prescribed depo testosterone 200ml bottle. I give myself a shot each week and haven’t really noticed much change. I know I have to give it time, but is there anything else I can do or should be prescribed to help speed up the process?
My entire presentation was focused on 32 different ways to increase testosterone naturally, with no injections or hormone replacement protocols required. I'm not against bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), but I do think one should explore as many natural alternatives as possible first. Or, for even more bang for the buck, pair BHRT with the tactics you'll discover in this episode.
A study out of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas, examined the effects of fenugreek supplementation on strength and body composition in resistance-trained men. Researchers found that while both the placebo and fenugreek groups significantly increased their strength during the first four weeks, only the fenugreek group saw significant increases in strength after eight weeks of training and supplementation.
However, an important peculiarity of testosterone boosting products is their inability to cause addiction. Also, as opposed to steroids, the natural supplements don’t disturb the bodily functions. It means that these products don’t destroy the men’s hormone balance and don’t suppress the natural testosterone synthesis. Instead, the high-quality boosters successfully and safely eliminate the hormone imbalance issues in the men’s body.
Testosterone was first used as a clinical drug as early as 1937, but with little understanding of its mechanisms. The hormone is now widely prescribed to men whose bodies naturally produce low levels. But the levels at which testosterone deficiency become medically relevant still aren’t well understood. Normal testosterone production varies widely in men, so it’s difficult to know what levels have medical significance. The hormone’s mechanisms of action are also unclear.