Testosterone fuels a lot of the male body’s essential functions – body composition, cognition, mood, sexual function, and quite a lot more. However, whether due to hormone disorders or the natural ebb and flow of the aging process, more adult men are considering the use of testosterone boosters to increase their testosterone levels to a normal range.
Testosterone boosters have been regularly used for years now to help offset the effects of Low T to a great deal of success. However, there are a few side effects to testosterone boosters in testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) that you should be aware of before embarking on a treatment plan.
Here, we break down the pros and cons of testosterone boosters for your edification, so you can make the most informed choice possible about any potential hormone treatment.
WHAT IS TESTOSTERONE?
Testosterone is a hormone found in humans and other animals, acting as the primary male sex hormone. Testosterone can be roughly divided into two different types – “free” testosterone, which is not bound to specific proteins, and those types that are, including those bound to the sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) protein. Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, is another type that is largely responsible for prostate health and hair growth.
The hormone is an important part of many different physical attributes associated with biological maleness, such as reproductive ability, sexual ability and lean muscle mass. Testosterone is key to producing sperm, maintaining body composition, and maintaining mental and physiological health.
WHAT DO TESTOSTERONE BOOSTERS DO?
Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) involves the use of testosterone boosters to increase a man’s testosterone levels to normal ranges. Often, this is used by people who have T levels below average, a condition known as Low T. However, it can also be used by people with levels on the low side of normal, who simply wish to benefit from more robust levels of testosterone in their body.
Enter testosterone boosters, which typically come in the form of injections that go directly into the muscle and into the subject’s bloodstream. The body’s androgen receptors then use this additional testosterone to perform the role of naturally produced testosterone, most notably the maintenance of male sex characteristics.
Of course, there are other methods for administering testosterone boosters as well, including gels, creams, patches, and even implants. However, testosterone booster injections are the most reliable and effective method of administering TRT.
As part of a professionally-administered TRT regimen, testosterone boosters carry with them a number of significant benefits.
- Improved sexual function. Studies involving men undergoing TRT have found that testosterone boosters have given subjects higher sexual function and more frequent sexual activity. While testosterone is a factor in erectile dysfunction, there are other psychological factors and comorbidities that can lead to that condition as well.
- Increased muscle mass and physical function. Research strongly links testosterone boosters to the lowering of fat mass and a commensurate increase in muscle mass, resulting in a much more preferable body composition for one’s physical health and self-regard.
- Better mood and cognition. Testosterone has been strongly linked to male cognition, with testosterone boosters having been shown have positive nootropic effects on male subjects. This is also connected to a subsequent decrease in irritability and fatigue, and improved mood overall.
- Reduced diabetes symptoms. Men with Type 2 diabetes also tend to see symptoms reduce upon taking testosterone boosters. One study by the State University of New York showed that TRT resulted in lower instances of insulin resistance, making for far better outcomes and reduced obesity.
- Healthier heart and blood. Testosterone aids in red blood cell production, and Low T has been connected to many cardiovascular issues. Increasing testosterone levels has been directly correlated to a reduction in heart disease risk, though improvements were marginal at best.
- Higher bone mineral density. Testosterone is also directly linked to bone density, which often decreases as men age and their testosterone levels lower. Testosterone boosters, therefore, play a significant role in helping to maintain strong bones in subjects who take them.
While testosterone boosters can help men achieve those benefits and more, there are a few caveats to consider before committing to a TRT regimen.
- Acne. Like other androgens, testosterone can trigger acne by over-stimulating the oil glands in the face. This makes them more likely to clog pores and result in acne. In our teens, acne is more frequent because testosterone production is high; testosterone boosters carry the same hazards.
- Fluid retention. TRT has been known to cause water retention in some patients. While this isn’t life-threatening by any means, it can be unsightly, and not preferred by those who want testosterone boosters to improve their overall appearance.
- Gynecomastia. Testosterone replacement therapy can also result in the development of fatty breasts in men, a phenomenon known as gynecomastia. Again, this side effect is purely cosmetic, but it is a consideration for some/
- Lower testicular size/sperm count. Because TRT involves introducing supplemental supplies of testosterone, it naturally depresses the release of luteinizing and follicle-stimulating hormones, resulting in the potential for lower sperm counts and a reduction in testicle size.
- Mood swings/increased aggression. While TRT has been linked to better mood, some cases also see testosterone boosters causing aggressive behavior and mood swings in subjects. However, most literature acknowledges the overall improvement of cognitive function endemic to TRT.
- Mild risk of cardiovascular disease. Patients with high risk for heart disease should consult with their cardiologist before embarking on a TRT regimen.
While testosterone boosters should be used with the utmost care, and the supervision of wellness professionals, the pros far outweigh the cons. Done properly, a TRT regimen can stave off the worst aspects of the aging process, and lead to improved cognition, higher muscle mass, and more desirable sexual ability, among other benefits.
Though the side effects of using TRT shouldn’t be ignored, they are relatively minor compared to the commensurate advantages. When considering testosterone replacement therapy, it is vital that you work with hormone replacement specialists to ensure the utmost safety and care for your health.
This content was reviewed by Dr. Gary Kawesch. Dr. Kawesch graduated from Yale University, getting his degree in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. He then got his medical degree at the UCLA School of Medicine. He completed his internship in internal medicine at USC’s Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, and his ophthalmology residency at the UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute. For over 18 years, Dr. Kawesch was one of the foremost ophthalmic surgeons in the US and has consulted with and was a team doctor for seven professional sports teams in California. He continues to work with the Oakland Raiders. He trained with the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and helps men increase their vitality, lifespan and overall healthspan.