Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in males but also has important functions in females. Natural testosterone supplements and boosters include vitamin D, fenugreek, or ashwagandha. A person with a testosterone deficiency can also make lifestyle changes that may help increase their testosterone levels.
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.
Various supplements may help boost testosterone, such as:
A doctor may prescribe testosterone replacement therapy if testosterone levels are low due to a medical condition.
This article looks at testosterone in detail, including the role of testosterone in the body and how people can increase their testosterone levels.
Testosterone is a key male sex hormone. During puberty in males, testosterone is responsible for the deepening of the voice, the growth of the male sexual organs, and the development of pubic hair. It also plays an important role in sperm production.
Regardless of a person’s sex, testosterone has several functions,
- sex drive
- bone mass
- fat distribution and storage
- muscle growth
- red blood cell production
- sperm production
Testosterone levels can naturally fluctuate throughout a person’s life cycle. Overall, males tend to have higher testosterone levels than females, and females tend to have higher levels of estrogen.
If a person is transitioning, they may increase their testosterone levels to make certain aspects of their body — those that society considers masculine — more apparent. In this situation, a person
A person should always discuss hormone therapy’s potential benefits and risks with a doctor.
Testosterone supplements may also be useful for people with testosterone deficiency.
In males, a testosterone deficiency may cause:
- reduced sex drive
- erectile dysfunction
- reduced ejaculate
- reduced facial and body hair growth
- loss of lean muscle mass
- low bone density
- fatigue and weakness
- increased sweating
In females, testosterone
The symptoms of low testosterone in females are nonspecific, but they
A female with a testosterone deficiency may have:
- mood changes
- difficulty sleeping
Taking testosterone supplements may help alleviate these symptoms. Doctors sometimes prescribe testosterone gels, creams, or implants to people
Before taking a testosterone supplement, it is best to discuss this with a doctor.
This is not necessarily true for vitamins and supplements. Each product carries its own risk of side effects and interactions. For this reason, people should check first and follow instructions carefully.
The FDA does not regulate supplements, which means that these products have not been through clinical trials. As a result, there is not always evidence that a supplement works as advertised.
In addition, supplements do not undergo the same rigorous quality control checks as medications. It is important to ensure that products come from reputable sources. A person should always research a supplement and consult with a doctor before using it.
This section looks at supplements that may help increase testosterone levels.
For erectile function: Vitamin D
Vitamin D supplements could also help increase libido for some people. For example, one
Furthermore, research shows that vitamin D plays a key role in male sexual function. Supplementation could help protect against deficiency, which
For physical fitness: Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub. Its roots and fruit have medicinal properties.
A 2019 study examined the effects of ashwagandha on hormone levels in males ages 40–70 years with overweight and mild fatigue. One group received a placebo while the others received ashwagandha. Among those taking ashwagandha, testosterone levels rose by
For female sexual function: Fenugreek
Fenugreek is a plant in the Fabaceae family.
Research has found similar results in females. In a
For older adults: DHEA
The body produces this steroid hormone in the adrenal glands.
Some research has found that DHEA could
In fact, one 2021 study showed that DHEA supplementation significantly increased testosterone levels and improved body composition in older females.
Still, more research is necessary to explore the effects of DHEA on testosterone in humans, as other studies have
Some people may prefer self-care strategies for boosting testosterone. A person might try these approaches on their own or in addition to supplements. Some tips for increasing testosterone naturally involve:
Severe disruption to sleep may affect testosterone levels, which could lead to issues with sexual function.
Males with obesity
Examples of brand-name versions of testosterone therapy
- Testosterone patch (androderm)
- Testosteon gel (fortesta)
- Ingection of testosterone undecanoate (aveed)
A doctor may also prescribe testosterone therapy, sometimes called “T therapy,” for a person who is transitioning.
Several testosterone boosters, including prescription medications and over-the-counter products, have been studied for their ability to increase testosterone levels and improve symptoms of deficiency.
Though testosterone therapy prescribed by a doctor can increase testosterone levels, research on the effectiveness of over-the-counter supplements has turned up mixed results.
For example, one 2020 study evaluated the effectiveness of 50 supplements that claimed to boost testosterone levels, increase libido, and increase strength.
According to the study,
Similarly, another study found that
Studies show that testosterone therapy
It may also
Though more research is needed, certain supplements may improve sexual function according to some studies, including fenugreek.
However, according to a 2019 review analyzing five of the top testosterone-boosting supplements, only
Decreased testosterone levels are often associated with reduced physical function, especially in older adults.
On the other hand, a 2021 study in males with obesity and low testosterone levels found that pairing testosterone therapy with resistance training did not improve physical function. However, it did help maintain muscle mass and bone density during weight loss.
Some studies suggest that supplements like ashwagandha
However, further research is needed to evaluate the effects of other supplements on physical fitness and strength.
A person should consider their needs and preferences to determine which type of testosterone booster is right for them.
If a person has a testosterone deficiency related to a medical condition, a healthcare professional can help determine the cause and best course of treatment, which may include prescription medications or lifestyle changes.
Supplements may be a good option to help balance hormone levels as well. However, it is important to talk with a doctor before taking any supplements and note that not all supplements are equally safe or effective.
Generally, it is best to opt for third-party tested or certified supplements containing ingredients in doses that have been studied and proven effective.
Certain supplements and medications may be beneficial for transitioning individuals with a testosterone deficiency or anyone experiencing symptoms related to low testosterone levels, such as a decreased sex drive.
Many lifestyle factors — such as improving sleep quality, maintaining a moderate weight, and following a nutritious diet — can also support hormone balance and overall health.
However, a person should only take supplements or medications as a healthcare professional advises.
Not only can certain supplements interact with other medications that a person may be taking, but some products might also be associated with adverse effects on health,
A person should speak with a doctor if they are experiencing any symptoms of low testosterone, including:
- erectile dysfunction
- decreased libido
- hot flashes
In addition to testing a person’s testosterone levels, a doctor can also determine whether any underlying conditions may be causing or contributing to symptoms and help develop a treatment plan.
It is also best to talk with a doctor before taking any supplements, especially if a person has any health conditions or is taking other medications.
Here are some questions that people often ask about supplements to boost testosterone.
What causes low testosterone?
People with a condition called hypogonadism have low testosterone levels. Other contributing factors include health conditions related to metabolic syndromes, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. The use of alcohol and some prescription and recreational drugs can also have an impact.
Will supplements help?
Some evidence supports the use of vitamin D, ashwagandha, DHEA, and other supplements. In most cases, however, research has not confirmed that supplements are safe or effective.
Can medication raise testosterone levels quickly?
Research suggests that after males start testosterone therapy, libido increases over
Changes in erection, ejaculation, or both may take up to 6 months, but improvements in the quality of life and mood should occur in 3–6 weeks.
Are supplements safe to use?
Vitamin D is likely safe for most people, but researchers have yet to establish the safety and effectiveness of most supplements. Always check with a healthcare professional before using a supplement, as some have adverse effects and can interact with medications.
Testosterone is a key male sex hormone and facilitates important functions in females.
Anyone with a testosterone deficiency might consider taking testosterone supplements. Others may prefer to increase their levels naturally by making lifestyle changes. Some tips include boosting vitamin D levels through safe exposure to sunlight and getting more sleep.
A doctor may prescribe testosterone replacement therapy if very low testosterone levels stem from a medical condition.