A: There are no over-the-counter products approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to increase testosterone levels. There are several prescription medication options available. Please consult with your health care provider in regards to your testosterone levels and to determine which treatment option best meets your individual needs. For more specific information, consult with your doctor or pharmacist for guidance based on your health status and current medications, particularly before taking any action. Kristen Dore, PharmD
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.
Mental status changes including excess aggression are a well known phenomenon in the context of anabolic steroid abuse (Perry et al 1990). An increase in self-reported aggressive behaviors have also been reported in one double blind placebo controlled trial of testosterone in young hypogonadal men (Finkelstein et al 1997), but this has not been confirmed in other studies (Skakkebaek et al 1981; O’Connor et al 2002). Aggression should therefore be monitored but in our experience is rarely a significant problem during testosterone replacement producing physiological levels.
Testosterone fluctuates according to age and life circumstance, often plummeting at the onset of parenthood, and spiking (for some) during moments of triumph. Romantic relationships, too, can impact a person’s testosterone production; though the reasons are still not fully understood, entering a relationship tends to increase women’s testosterone levels, while decreasing men’s. Since males produce significantly more testosterone than females—about 20 times more each day—females can be more sensitive to these fluctuations. High levels of testosterone, particularly in men, have been correlated with a greater likelihood of getting divorced or engaging in extramarital affairs, though a causal link has not been established.
Nutritional developers formulated Nugenix® with Testofen®, a key natural ingredient to help boost “free” testosterone along with resistance training. This key ingredient is carefully extracted from the fenugreek plant. A Testofen® study in Irvine, California indicated positive free testosterone-related results. Nugenix also includes L-Citrulline Malate, Tribulus, Zinc, plus Vitamins B6 and B12 to help promote overall health and performance.*
Fenugreek is often found in Indian, Turkish, and Persian cuisine. Multiple studies have found it to improve testosterone levels, and in particular, sexual performance. Scientists at Babu Banarasi Das University and King George’s Medical University in India have found that fenugreek improved testosterone levels. Testosterone levels increased for 90% of the volunteers, sperm morphology (the size and shape of sperm) improved for 14.6%, and more than 50% of volunteers experienced improvements in mental alertness, mood, and libido.
Present in much greater levels in men than women, testosterone initiates the development of the male internal and external reproductive organs during foetal development and is essential for the production of sperm in adult life. This hormone also signals the body to make new blood cells, ensures that muscles and bones stay strong during and after puberty and enhances libido both in men and women. Testosterone is linked to many of the changes seen in boys during puberty (including an increase in height, body and pubic hair growth, enlargement of the penis, testes and prostate gland, and changes in sexual and aggressive behaviour). It also regulates the secretion of luteinising hormone and follicle stimulating hormone. To effect these changes, testosterone is often converted into another androgen called dihydrotestosterone.
Because of inconclusive or conflicting results of testosterone treatment studies reported in the literature, Rabkin and colleagues (2004) undertook a comparison study among testosterone, the anti-depressant, fluoxetine, and placebo in eugonadal HIV positive men. They found that neither fluoxetine nor testosterone were different from placebo in reducing depression, but that testosterone did have a statistically significant effect in reducing fatigue. It is note-worthy that fatigue was reduced with testosterone treatment even though virtually all the men in the study had testosterone levels within the reference range.
Sprinting has been shown numerous times that it has positive effects on testosterone levels. One 2011 study (ref 84) looked at weightlifters who performed 4x35m sprints twice a week. In contrast to the control group (who continued lifting but did not sprint), it was found that “After the 4-week training program, total testosterone and the total testosterone/cortisol ratio increased significantly in the (sprinters) EXP group”.
Exercise boosts testosterone in two important ways. First, specific types of exercise actually cause our body to produce more testosterone. We’ll talk more about those in a bit. Second, exercise helps to increase muscle mass and decrease body fat. As we’ve discussed previously, adipose tissue converts testosterone into estrogen. The less fat we get, the more T we have.
If you are serious about losing weight, you have got to strictly limit the amount of processed sugar in your diet, as evidence is mounting that excess sugar, and fructose in particular, is the primary driving factor in the obesity epidemic. So cutting soda from your diet is essential, as is limiting fructose found in processed foods, fruit juice, excessive fruit and so-called "healthy" sweeteners like agave.
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Your body’s circadian rhythm essentially resets itself every night and releases chemicals like cortisol, which contribute to the overall hormone balance that can prevent low T-levels. I have even heard one endocrinologist claim that one hour of sleep between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. has the same healing effects on your body as two hours of sleep before or after this timeslot!