Testosterone levels naturally decline with age, but some measures may slow or reverse the process. They include staying active, getting enough sleep, and limiting alcohol use. Some supplements may also help.

Testosterone is vital to a person’s overall health and well-being. Low levels of testosterone can affect body composition unfavorably, and as people age, reduced testosterone levels can also cause weight gain.

Low levels of testosterone also affect sexual function, causing reduced sex drive, fewer erections, and infertility.

This article will detail some measures that may boost testosterone naturally.

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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According to a recent study of 9,054 men ages 19 and 39 who were of a healthy weight, normal testosterone levels range from between 264 and 916 nanograms per deciliters (ng/dL).

Drug companies promote products that claim to increase testosterone, and while these might help some people, they may also slow down the body’s ability to produce testosterone naturally. Also, these medications are not without risks.

A 2016 study noted that the benefits and safety of long-term use of testosterone replacement products are unknown.

The best way to improve testosterone levels is by adopting some lifestyle habits that can improve overall health and well-being.

Learn more about testosterone.

Lack of sleep can adversely affect the levels of hormones and chemicals that the body needs to function correctly, including testosterone.

One much older 2011 study from the University of Chicago found that testosterone levels can drop in men who do not get enough sleep.

Ten healthy men, ages around 24 years old, spent one week sleeping for eight hours per night at home. They then spent the next 11 nights in a lab. They slept for 10 hours per night for three nights, followed by eight nights of restricted sleep, when they slept for only 5 hours. Doctors checked their blood every 15 to 30 minutes during the last night that they slept 10 hours and on the sleep-restricted session.

The researchers found that after only one week of restricted sleep, daytime testosterone levels dropped by up to 15 percent. By contrast, normal aging sees testosterone decreases of just one to two percent per year.

Making sleep a priority may help maintain testosterone levels. People should aim to sleep at least seven to eight hours each night. Anyone having problems getting good quality sleep on a regular basis should talk with their doctor.

Learn more about sleep and health.

Research has long shown that eating well is essential to maintaining testosterone levels and overall health. According to an older report in the Journal of Neuroinflammation, low testosterone levels and being overweight may contribute to a variety of inflammatory conditions and impaired neurological function.

Additional research showed overeating, and yo-yo dieting disrupted hormone levels. This effect is most evident in athletes and people who are very active.

The best diets are ones that include mostly whole foods and offer a healthy balance of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Eating a healthful and nutritious diet can keep all hormone levels in the body balanced and promote optimal long-term health.

Learn more about the benefits of eating healthy.

Research has shown that men who carry more weight have lower levels of testosterone, with obesity being an important factor in lowering testosterone, even over other factors such as age.

According to a 2016 study, men who are obese have 30% lower testosterone levels compared to men who are lean. Maintaining a healthy weight is key for overall long-term health.

A 2017 study suggested that increasing physical activity was more beneficial than weight loss for improving testosterone levels.

However, it is a good idea not to overdo it, as higher levels of exercise may cause low testosterone.

In fact, the same study found that long-distance runners may experience low testosterone levels. The researchers speculated that this might be due to inadequate energy and improper nutrition.

Long-term and chronic stress is dangerous and can lead to many issues in the body.

Stress elevates the hormone cortisol, which is responsible for managing a variety of processes, including immune response and metabolism.

Elevated cortisol negatively impacts testosterone. One 2016 study found that stressful events contributed to erratic changes in testosterone levels in males.

In the two months before their final exams, 58 male and female medical students filled in questionnaires and gave saliva samples while under exam stress.

The men in the study showed significant increases in salivary testosterone under exam stress, while the women had substantially decreased testosterone levels.

The researchers suggest the stress response in the male study participants resulted in aggression, emotional inhibition, and rumination, and this could explain the differences in the sexes.

Many people may turn to vitamins and supplements to boost testosterone. However, some studies have found that despite claims of such supplements boosting testosterone, only a small percentage actually do.

Many vitamins are important for optimum health and testosterone levels, such as vitamin D. Getting at least 15 minutes of direct sunshine each day can also keep vitamin D levels managed. Food sources high in vitamin D include salmon and other fatty fish or fortified milk and cereal products.

DHEA is a hormone that helps to produce testosterone and other hormones that affect body composition. As a person ages, DHEA levels drop, as do testosterone levels. One study found that DHEA supplements are effective in increasing testosterone levels, although it varies for different groups of people.

Eating healthful fats found in fish and flaxseed might help the body use the DHEA it produces.

While prescription medications can help manage a variety of health conditions, they are one of the most common reasons for low testosterone.

According to one 2021 study, statins, which are medications that lower cholesterol, may partially operate by reducing testosterone.

Anyone who suspects low testosterone is due to prescribed medications should bring these concerns to their doctor’s attention.

Abuse of drugs and alcohol links to lower testosterone.

According to one 2022 study, chronic alcohol use can lead to low testosterone levels due to the effects it has on the body, including hormonal reactions and cell damage.

According to an older report in Nature Reviews Endocrinology, there is little evidence to prove that testosterone therapy or marketed testosterone supplements can help men with age-related testosterone problems.

Testosterone therapy may, however, be helpful when the body cannot produce testosterone on its own.

Because testosterone therapy is not suitable for everyone, the best way to increase testosterone levels is naturally.

Anyone concerned about their testosterone levels should see their doctor for a testosterone test but also to discuss lifestyle changes and whether testosterone therapy or supplementation may help.

Here are some frequently asked questions about boosting testosterone.

What happens when a person tries to boost testosterone?

Testosterone effects males in many ways, including regulating sex drive, building bone mass, muscle mass, and strength, and the production of sperm.

Is it good to take testosterone boosters?

Some studies have found that testosterone booster supplements and medications may present some health risks. It is always important to speak with a doctor before taking any supplements or boosters, and there are many ways to boost testosterone naturally, such as exercising, eating a nutritious diet, and getting enough sleep.

Do women produce testosterone?

Women produce testosterone in small amounts. In combination with estrogen, testosterone helps with repairing reproductive tissues, growth, and maintaining sexual behavior. Too much testosterone, however, can cause symptoms such as excess body hair or deepening of the voice.

Testosterone development starts before birth and assists in the development of the male sex organs.

Testosterone drives libido, production of sperm, distribution of body fat, muscle strength, and creation of red blood cells in males. Women also produce testosterone in their ovaries and adrenal glands, but they produce significantly lower levels than men.

People can boost testosterone naturally through diet and exercise or, in some cases, through supplementation.

However, there is no evidence to prove that testosterone therapy raises testosterone in healthy males.