Opioid substances are in common use both licit and illicit. Opiates are potent analgesics but they are also highly addictive. They are frequently prescribed for both acute and chronic pain and when used chronically, often induce opiate dependence in the user. Pain clinics regularly use narcotic agents in many of their patients. Methadone, in particular, is regularly prescribed to opiate addicts who have entered a program aimed at reducing narcotic dosage and ultimately weaning the patient off it altogether. Most men who are on chronic high doses of an opiate become hypogonadal. This was first recognized in the 1970’s when heroin addicts were found to have suppressed levels of testosterone (Brambilla et al 1977). Also suppressed were LH and FSH pointing to a probable inhibition of GnRH release.
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.
Does zinc provide testosterone benefits? The answer is, yes. It is an essential mineral which is used in many processes within the body and has a similar role like vitamin D. Men who have a deficiency of zinc may suffer from low testosterone levels but taking zinc supplements can help them to improve the testosterone levels. Zinc deficiency is an essential factor in infertility because it also reduces the sperm count, but with supplements, the sperm count increases along with improvement in testosterone levels. It also helps to recover from high-intensity interval training because that also cause the decline in testosterone levels.

Overall, few patients have a compelling contraindication to testosterone treatment. The majority of men with late onset hypogonadism can be safely treated with testosterone but all will require monitoring of prostate parameters HDL cholesterol, hematocrit and psychological state. It is also wise to monitor symptoms of sleep apnea. Other specific concerns may be raised by the mode of delivery such as local side effects from transdermal testosterone.
Looking for ingredients that work in the realm of supplements can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Testosterone boosters, like all dietary supplements, are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration prior to marketing. This lack of oversight dates back to the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), which stipulated that purveyors of supplements weren’t required to prove the safety of their products or the veracity of what’s on the labels to the FDA before listing them for sale. Often, there isn’t a lot of scientific backing behind an ingredient, or research has been done solely on animals, not humans.
Does zinc provide testosterone benefits? The answer is, yes. It is an essential mineral which is used in many processes within the body and has a similar role like vitamin D. Men who have a deficiency of zinc may suffer from low testosterone levels but taking zinc supplements can help them to improve the testosterone levels. Zinc deficiency is an essential factor in infertility because it also reduces the sperm count, but with supplements, the sperm count increases along with improvement in testosterone levels. It also helps to recover from high-intensity interval training because that also cause the decline in testosterone levels.
Another effect that can limit treatment is polycythemia, which occurs due to various stimulatory effects of testosterone on erythropoiesis (Zitzmann and Nieschlag 2004). Polycythemia is known to produce increased rates of cerebral ischemia and there have been reports of stroke during testosterone induced polycythaemia (Krauss et al 1991). It is necessary to monitor hematocrit during testosterone treatment, and hematocrit greater than 50% should prompt either a reduction of dose if testosterone levels are high or high-normal, or cessation of treatment if levels are low-normal. On the other hand, late onset hypogonadism frequently results in anemia which will then normalize during physiological testosterone replacement.
There are supplements out there that promise to increase your libido while also upping your testosterone. There are over the counter testosterone supplements and prescription supplements. There are supplements that market themselves as T-boosters, while also touting themselves as an aphrodisiac. And then there are companies that claim to have developed a testosterone pill that contains the triumvirate of male-enhancing properties: T-boosting, libido-enhancing, and even fertility-increasing. These supplement makers sometimes throw in an additional claim of muscle gain as well.
Regardless of the method of testosterone treatment chosen, patients will require regular monitoring during the first year of treatment in order to monitor clinical response to testosterone, testosterone levels and adverse effects, including prostate cancer (see Table 2). It is recommended that patients should be reviewed at least every three months during this time. Once treatment has been established, less frequent review is appropriate but the care of the patient should be the responsibility of an appropriately trained specialist with sufficient experience of managing patients treated with testosterone.
One of the most important nutrients that can help boost testosterone levels is vitamin D3. In 2011, the results of a study published in the journal Hormone and Metabolic Research announced that vitamin D supplementation boosts testosterone naturally in overweight men by up to 30 percent. (12) This is pretty exciting because research has shown that vitamin D3 is also linked to helping to prevent and treat cancer! (13)
Men on long-term testosterone appear to have a higher risk of cardiovascular problems, like heart attacks, strokes, and deaths from heart disease. For example, in 2010, researchers halted the Testosterone in Older Men study when early results showed that men on hormone treatments had noticeably more heart problems. "In older men, theoretical cardiac side effects become a little more immediate," Dr. Pallais says.
Common side effects from testosterone medication include acne, swelling, and breast enlargement in males.[10] Serious side effects may include liver toxicity, heart disease, and behavioral changes.[10] Women and children who are exposed may develop virilization.[10] It is recommended that individuals with prostate cancer not use the medication.[10] It can cause harm if used during pregnancy or breastfeeding.[10]
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In addition to conjugation and the 17-ketosteroid pathway, testosterone can also be hydroxylated and oxidized in the liver by cytochrome P450 enzymes, including CYP3A4, CYP3A5, CYP2C9, CYP2C19, and CYP2D6.[155] 6β-Hydroxylation and to a lesser extent 16β-hydroxylation are the major transformations.[155] The 6β-hydroxylation of testosterone is catalyzed mainly by CYP3A4 and to a lesser extent CYP3A5 and is responsible for 75 to 80% of cytochrome P450-mediated testosterone metabolism.[155] In addition to 6β- and 16β-hydroxytestosterone, 1β-, 2α/β-, 11β-, and 15β-hydroxytestosterone are also formed as minor metabolites.[155][156] Certain cytochrome P450 enzymes such as CYP2C9 and CYP2C19 can also oxidize testosterone at the C17 position to form androstenedione.[155]
A blood test is the only way to diagnose a low testosterone level or a reduction in the bioavailability of testosterone. Some men have a lower than normal testosterone level without signs or symptoms. For most men, no treatment is needed. But for some others, very low testosterone levels lead to a condition in which bones become weak and brittle (osteoporosis). For others, low testosterone might cause changes in sexual function, sleep patterns, emotions and the body.
Does the diminution that age brings with it in both total and bioavailable T have any clinical significance? This question leads us to the theme of this paper, “The Many Faces of Testosterone”. If testosterone were simply a “sex hormone” involved only with sexual desire and arousal we might tend to dismiss testosterone treatment in the aging man as merely a “life-style” therapy without any substantive basis for broad physiological necessity. The fact is, however, that the sexual attributes of testosterone are the least of its physiological necessities and that testosterone has a broad spectrum of demonstrated physiological functions as well as a wide variety of physiological and pathophysiological associations about which we are just learning.
This paper will aim to review the current evidence of clinical effects of testosterone treatment within an aging male population. As with any other clinical intervention a decision to treat patients with testosterone requires a balance of risk versus benefit. We shall try to facilitate this by examining the effects of testosterone on the various symptoms and organs involved.
"Some say it's just a part of aging, but that's a misconception," says Jason Hedges, MD, PhD, a urologist at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. A gradual decline in testosterone can't explain a near-total lack of interest in sex, for example. And for Hedges' patients who are in their 20s, 30s, and early 40s and having erectile problems, other health problems may be a bigger issue than aging.
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