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Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in males, but it also has important functions in the female body. If a person has a testosterone deficiency, they may wish to take testosterone supplements or adopt certain lifestyle changes.
In this article, we explain more about testosterone, including its role in males and females and how a person can increase their levels of this hormone.
Testosterone is a key male sex hormone. During puberty, 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.
Although people often associate testosterone with males, this hormone has several functions in both males and females. These include:
- regulating sex drive
- increasing bone mass
- fat distribution and storage
- muscle growth
- red blood cell production
- sperm production
The key difference is that males tend to have higher testosterone levels than females, while females have higher levels of a different sex hormone: estrogen. Testosterone levels can fluctuate throughout the female and male life cycle.
If a person is transitioning, they may choose to increase their testosterone levels to make certain aspects of their body — those that society understands as masculine — more apparent.
In this situation, a person may consider testosterone therapy. A person should discuss the potential benefits and risks of hormone therapy with their doctor.
Testosterone supplements may be useful for people who have a testosterone deficiency. In males, a testosterone deficiency may cause the following symptoms:
Females with a testosterone deficiency may present with:
- difficulty sleeping
- reduction in sex drive
- weight gain
- irregular menstrual cycles
- vaginal dryness
Taking testosterone supplements in these circumstances may help alleviate these symptoms. However, a person may need to discuss this with a doctor.
In another study, scientists gave testosterone supplements to rats and noted that this led to an increase in prostate tumors. More research is necessary to assess whether the same happens in humans.
This section examines supplements that may help increase testosterone levels.
A recent study featuring in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology notes an association between vitamin D levels and testosterone. Men with a vitamin D deficiency had lower testosterone levels than those without a deficiency.
This research implies that an increase in vitamin D may help raise testosterone levels. Vitamin D supplements come in the form of capsules or a spray.
Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub. The roots and fruit of this plant have medicinal properties.
The researchers found that the testosterone levels of the participants taking ashwagandha increased by 14.7% more than they did among the placebo group.
This amino acid plays a role in testosterone production and release.
In an older study, researchers gave 23 men a daily dose of D-aspartate for 12 days, which led to an increase in their testosterone. More research is necessary to determine whether similar results will occur in females.
Fenugreek is a plant belonging to the Fabaceae family.
A meta-analysis of trials investigating the effect of a fenugreek extract supplement on testosterone levels in males suggests that it has a significant effect.
Research has produced similar results in females. In a 2015 study, researchers gave 80 females aged 20–49 years 600 milligrams of fenugreek seed extract or a placebo each day for 8 weeks. The extract led to a significant increase in testosterone levels and sexual desire compared with the placebo.
A study examining the effect of DHEA and whole-body vibrations on mice found that this combination decreased testosterone levels. However, DHEA alone led to an increase in testosterone levels.
More research is necessary to explore the effects of DHEA on testosterone in humans.
Some people may prefer not to take supplements but to rely on natural ways of boosting testosterone. Alternatively, people may wish to combine supplements with natural boosters. Some examples of ways to increase testosterone naturally include:
An older study looking at the effects of sleep restriction in young men found that their morning testosterone levels were lower after they had less sleep. This finding implies that an association exists between more sleep and higher testosterone levels.
Males with obesity tend to have lower testosterone levels. Losing weight healthfully may help these individuals increase their testosterone levels.
Research suggests that males who consume low fat diets have lower levels of testosterone, regardless of body mass index (BMI) and physical activity levels.
Older research indicates that exposure to sunlight may help increase testosterone levels, as this is the source of most of the body’s vitamin D.
Testosterone is a key male sex hormone, but it also facilitates important functions in females.
If a person is experiencing a testosterone deficiency, they may consider taking testosterone supplements to help increase their levels of this hormone.
If a person prefers to increase testosterone naturally by making lifestyle changes, they can try safely exposing themselves to more sunlight and getting more sleep.