Various supplements and medications may help increase a person’s testosterone levels. However, increasing testosterone can raise the risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack or stroke.
Some people choose to increase their testosterone levels by using alternative treatments, though many of these lack scientific backing.
Usually, a person should only take testosterone supplements if they have a medical condition that causes low testosterone. Alternatively, they may choose to do so if they are transgender and opt to take supplements as part of their transition process.
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A person may receive testosterone injections from their doctor, or a healthcare professional might allow them to inject themselves at home.
These injections will typically be either testosterone enanthate or testosterone cypionate, which people use every
However, these injections can damage the tissue, so it is important to rotate injection sites and use a sterile technique.
The injections are highly effective at treating hypogonadism and ensure the dose a person receives is consistent.
Transdermal testosterone is a gel that people apply directly to the skin. This treatment method is popular as it is easy to administer.
However, there are some disadvantages, such as:
- possible skin irritation
- the gel may transfer to another person through skin contact
- the gel may rub off, reducing the necessary dose
If a person has issues with these methods of administering testosterone, a doctor may suggest
- a subcutaneous testosterone pellet, which sits under the skin
- administering testosterone to the nose or cheek
- taking testosterone orally
These may be more convenient for a person to take, but they can also increase the chances of irritation or infection.
To choose the correct administration method, people must work with their doctor. They may also wish to ask about the potential costs and benefits of their particular medical history and their need to explore suitable alternatives.
Many testosterone supplements available over the counter reportedly increase a person’s testosterone. However, there is typically little evidence to demonstrate their effectiveness.
Lifestyle changes, such as exercise, improving diet, and maintaining a moderate weight, may have a more significant effect than taking these supplements.
A person should consider these choices after a discussion with a doctor, who can help them find a suitable approach for the individual.
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Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a hormone that occurs in the body, and people can purchase it as a testosterone supplement. However, a 2016 article suggests there was little evidence for its effectiveness.
According to the previous article in the American Journal of Men’s Health, manufacturers market various herbal supplements that reportedly improve testosterone. These are sometimes available in combination with DHEA.
Much like other alternative treatment options, there is little evidence for their effectiveness in increasing testosterone. Additionally, there may be concerns about dose, quality, and purity in these products that do not fall under the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) regulatory oversight.
Here we answer some common questions about these supplements.
Is pure testosterone a steroid?
Testosterone is a hormone that males create in their testes. The female body also produces this hormone in the ovaries and adrenal glands, but in smaller amounts. Healthcare professionals may recommend testosterone replacement therapy for people with hypogonadism.
Anabolic steroids contain testosterone that is either natural or synthetic. However, anabolic steroids are unsuitable as a replacement for testosterone replacement therapy.
What’s the best testosterone to take?
There are various ways a person can take testosterone, such as subdermally, by injecting the hormone, or orally.
A healthcare professional will advise a person on which method is best for their needs.
Can you purchase testosterone?
A person can only purchase testosterone with a valid prescription from a healthcare professional.
However, individuals should never buy this hormone from websites or other retailers that do not require a prescription.
Does a person need to take testosterone supplements?
As a person gets older, their testosterone levels decrease, which can lead to the following:
- a reduction in libido
- erectile dysfunction
- a weakening of muscles and bones
People may wish to supplement their testosterone to counteract these natural effects of aging. However, the possible benefits of taking testosterone need to be in balance with the higher risks of cardiovascular events.
If an individual is transitioning, they may choose to have testosterone therapy to make the aspects of their body that society understands as masculine more apparent.
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A person may have a condition that causes low testosterone levels — most commonly hypogonadism. According to a 2017 article, if a person has hypogonadism, the best course of action is to begin testosterone therapy once they know the risks.
Research on testosterone therapies is still developing, in particular around the potential risks of increasing its levels in a person. For some people, such as those who have hypogonadism or are transitioning, these risks may be worth the benefits.
However, current recommendations are not to take testosterone supplements to reverse the effects of aging. Alternative treatments have little evidence to back them up, meaning they may be ineffective and pose some health risks.