Overall, few patients have a compelling contraindication to testosterone treatment. The majority of men with late onset hypogonadism can be safely treated with testosterone but all will require monitoring of prostate parameters HDL cholesterol, hematocrit and psychological state. It is also wise to monitor symptoms of sleep apnea. Other specific concerns may be raised by the mode of delivery such as local side effects from transdermal testosterone.
Transdermal preparations of testosterone utilize the fact that the skin readily absorbs steroid hormones. Initial transdermal preparations took the form of scrotal patches with testosterone loaded on to a membranous patch. Absorption from the scrotal skin was particularly good and physiological levels of testosterone with diurnal variation were reliably attained. The scrotal patches are now rarely used because they require regular shaving or clipping of scrotal hair and because they produce rather high levels of dihydrotestosterone compared to testosterone (Behre et al 1999). Subsequently, non-scrotal patches were developed but the absorptive capacity of non-scrotal skin is much lower, so these patches contain additional chemicals which enhance absorption. The non-scrotal skin patches produce physiological testosterone levels without supraphysiological dihydrotestosterone levels. Unfortunately, the patches produce a high rate of local skin reactions often leading to discontinuation (Parker and Armitage 1999). In the last few years, transdermal testosterone gel preparations have become available. These require daily application by patients and produce steady state physiological testosterone levels within a few days in most patients (Swerdloff et al 2000; Steidle et al 2003). The advantages compared with testosterone patches include invisibility, reduced skin irritation and the ability to adjust dosage, but concerns about transfer to women and children on close skin contact necessitate showering after application or coverage with clothes.

In many of the studies we found, those who saw the most improvement in health, testosterone, or muscle gain were those with existing nutrient or vitamin deficiencies. This means that some gains may be due more to dietary changes and generally restoring nutrient and vitamin levels than any one magic ingredient, but also that making sure your diet includes healthy amounts of nutrients should be your first step.
In a placebo-controlled study, 27 Division II football players received either a placebo or a ZMA supplement for a total of seven weeks during their scheduled spring practice. At the end of the seven weeks, the players taking the ZMA supplement had a 30 percent increase in testosterone, while the placebo group had a 10 percent decrease. The ZMA group also saw an 11.6 percent increase in strength, compared to only 4.6 percent in the placebo group.[7]

Overall there is evidence that testosterone treatment increases lean body mass and reduces obesity, particularly visceral obesity, in a variety of populations including aging men. With regard to muscle changes, some studies demonstrate improvements in maximal strength but the results are inconsistent and it has not been demonstrated that these changes lead to clinically important improvements in mobility, endurance or quality of life. Studies are needed to clarify this. Changes in abdominal obesity are particularly important as visceral fat is now recognised as predisposing the metabolic syndrome, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
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Smith and colleagues (2005) undertook a prospective study on the contribution of stress to coronary heart disease. Their study, which involved 2512 men aged 45 to 59 years, looked at a number of metabolic parameters. They found that an increased cortisol to testosterone ratio was associated with a high risk of coronary artery disease and that this risk was mediated by components of the insulin resistance syndrome. They reported that high cortisol and low testosterone levels are associated with a worsening of insulin resistance and that there is evidence to support the possibility of improving this pattern by treatment with testosterone.
In the hepatic 17-ketosteroid pathway of testosterone metabolism, testosterone is converted in the liver by 5α-reductase and 5β-reductase into 5α-DHT and the inactive 5β-DHT, respectively.[1][151] Then, 5α-DHT and 5β-DHT are converted by 3α-HSD into 3α-androstanediol and 3α-etiocholanediol, respectively.[1][151] Subsequently, 3α-androstanediol and 3α-etiocholanediol are converted by 17β-HSD into androsterone and etiocholanolone, which is followed by their conjugation and excretion.[1][151] 3β-Androstanediol and 3β-etiocholanediol can also be formed in this pathway when 5α-DHT and 5β-DHT are acted upon by 3β-HSD instead of 3α-HSD, respectively, and they can then be transformed into epiandrosterone and epietiocholanolone, respectively.[153][154] A small portion of approximately 3% of testosterone is reversibly converted in the liver into androstenedione by 17β-HSD.[152]
Intracoronary artery infusion of testosterone causes significant coronary artery dilatation and not constriction as previously thought (Webb et al 1999). When degree of coronary obstruction is assessed by angiography, there is a direct relationship between degree of coronary artery narrowing and reduced testosterone levels (Phillips et al 1994). Men with low testosterone levels have been observed to have: premature atherosclerosis, increased visceral adipose tissue, hyperinsulinemia, and other risk factors for myocardial infarction (Phillips 2005). Insulin resistance has been shown to be associated with a decrease in Leydig cell secretion of testosterone (Pitteloud et al 2005). Muller and colleagues suggest that low endogenous total testosterone and SHBG levels increase the risk of metabolic syndrome in aging and aged men. They demonstrated that low levels of testosterone are related to lower insulin sensitivity and higher fasting insulin levels (Muller et al 2005). These authors speculate that testosterone might play a protective role in the development of metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease in aging men.
Vitamin D, a steroid hormone, is essential for the healthy development of the nucleus of the sperm cell, and helps maintain semen quality and sperm count. Vitamin D also increases levels of testosterone, which may boost libido. In one study, overweight men who were given vitamin D supplements had a significant increase in testosterone levels after one year.5
Epidemiological studies suggest that many significant clinical findings and important disease states are linked to low testosterone levels. These include osteoporosis (Campion and Maricic 2003), Alzheimer’s disease (Moffat et al 2004), frailty, obesity (Svartberg, von Muhlen, Sundsfjord et al 2004), diabetes (Barrett-Connor 1992), hypercholesterolemia (Haffner et al 1993; Van Pottelbergh et al 2003), hypertension (Phillips et al 1993), cardiac failure (Tappler and Katz 1979; Kontoleon et al 2003) and ischemic heart disease (Barrett-Connor and Khaw 1988). The extent to which testosterone deficiency is involved in the pathogenesis of these conditions, or to which testosterone supplementation could be useful in their treatment is an area of great interest with many unanswered questions.
When you get tested, your doctor will see if you require supplementation. I try and have clients maintain a serum blood level between 50 and 80 ng/mL. Studies have shown that men with lower levels of vitamin D had lower levels of testosterone. If a man tests below my preferred range, I typically recommend 5,000 IUs a day until the levels improve. Vitamin D3 supplements are widely available (best is to get one that contains vitamin K as well, as that allows for greater absorption), and you can also bump up your sunlight exposure. I find, and studies confirm this, that many men are deficient in vitamin D and it is a huge issue relating to testosterone levels.
This evidence, together with the beneficial effects of testosterone replacement on central obesity and diabetes, raises the question whether testosterone treatment could be beneficial in preventing or treating atherosclerosis. No trial of sufficient size or duration has investigated the effect of testosterone replacement in primary or secondary prevention cardiovascular disease. The absence of such data leads us to examine the relationship of testosterone to other cardiovascular risk factors, such as adverse lipid parameters, blood pressure, endothelial dysfunction, coagulation factors, inflammatory markers and cytokines. This analysis can supply evidence of the likely effects of testosterone on overall cardiovascular risk. This has limitations, however, including the potential for diverging effects of testosterone on the various factors involved and the resultant impossibility of accurately predicting the relative impact of such changes.

Studies conducted in rats have indicated that their degree of sexual arousal is sensitive to reductions in testosterone. When testosterone-deprived rats were given medium levels of testosterone, their sexual behaviors (copulation, partner preference, etc.) resumed, but not when given low amounts of the same hormone. Therefore, these mammals may provide a model for studying clinical populations among humans suffering from sexual arousal deficits such as hypoactive sexual desire disorder.[37]
Vitamin D is arguably the most important vitamin when it comes to testosterone. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology examined the relationship between vitamin D supplementation and testosterone levels in men. The authors found that participants with higher levels of vitamin D had significantly higher levels of free testosterone compared to those with insufficient levels of vitamin D.8 Based on these study results, it appears vitamin D has a strong relationship with testosterone levels.
We know stress generates too much cortisol and shuts down sexual hormones since our bodies go into a "fight or flight" mode. Supplements that nourish our adrenals are key to correcting those imbalances. A few recommendations that I have include adrenal adaptogens such as maca, ashwagandha, Siberian ginseng, and rhodiola. Adaptogens are a great way to restore adrenal glands, balance hormones, and detoxify. Supplementing with 25 to 50 mg of DHEA, and a high-quality multivitamin with bioavailable B vitamins and high dose vitamin C can also be helpful. It's important to eat a diet high in quality omega-3s like salmon, oysters, and sardines. I suggest 2,000 to 6,000 mg per day of carnitine to improve energy production and mitochondrial function.
Epimedium is also known as horny goat weed which is used as an aphrodisiac and testosterone booster. A recent study on rats showed that horny goat weed increased testosterone levels. At low doses, it is shown to improve bone strength in females. It also has an active ingredient Icariin which is responsible for the aphrodisiac effect of horny goat weed.
A: According to the package insert, there are several longer-term side effects that have occurred with testosterone therapy. Testosterone can stimulate the growth of cancerous tissue. Prostate cancer or enlargement of the prostate can develop during prolonged therapy with testosterone, and these conditions are more likely to occur in elderly men. In patients receiving testosterone therapy, tests for prostate cancer should be performed as is current practice. Androgen therapy, such as testosterone, can cause a loss of blood sugar control in patients with diabetes. Close monitoring of blood glucose is recommended. Male patients can experience feminization during prolonged therapy with testosterone. The side effects of feminization include breast soreness and enlargement. These side effects are generally reversible when treatment is stopped. Hair loss resembling male pattern baldness has also occurred. Sexual side effects including decreased ejaculatory volume and low sperm counts have occurred in patients receiving long-term therapy or excessive doses. For more information, please consult with your health care provider and visit //www.everydayhealth.com/drugs/testosterone. Michelle McDermott, PharmD

A: Depo-Testosterone is a brand name medication that contains testosterone cypionate. Depo-Testosterone is given as an intramuscular injection. The medication is indicated for replacement therapy for men that have conditions associated with symptoms of deficiency in the hormone or absence of testosterone produced in the body. Conditions that can be associated with low testosterone include: delayed puberty, impotence and hormonal imbalances. Testosterone is a sex hormone that is naturally produced in the male testicles. In women, small amounts of testosterone is produced in the ovaries and by the adrenal system. Testosterone is available in various medications for testosterone replacement therapy. Different forms of testosterone (e.g. cypionate, enanthate etc) are contained in different brand name medications. Jen Marsico, RPh


A: Depo-Testosterone is a brand name medication that contains testosterone cypionate. Depo-Testosterone is given as an intramuscular injection. The medication is indicated for replacement therapy for men that have conditions associated with symptoms of deficiency in the hormone or absence of testosterone produced in the body. Conditions that can be associated with low testosterone include: delayed puberty, impotence and hormonal imbalances. Testosterone is a sex hormone that is naturally produced in the male testicles. In women, small amounts of testosterone is produced in the ovaries and by the adrenal system. Testosterone is available in various medications for testosterone replacement therapy. Different forms of testosterone (e.g. cypionate, enanthate etc) are contained in different brand name medications. Jen Marsico, RPh
Free testosterone (T) is transported into the cytoplasm of target tissue cells, where it can bind to the androgen receptor, or can be reduced to 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by the cytoplasmic enzyme 5α-reductase. DHT binds to the same androgen receptor even more strongly than testosterone, so that its androgenic potency is about 5 times that of T.[114] The T-receptor or DHT-receptor complex undergoes a structural change that allows it to move into the cell nucleus and bind directly to specific nucleotide sequences of the chromosomal DNA. The areas of binding are called hormone response elements (HREs), and influence transcriptional activity of certain genes, producing the androgen effects.
In a placebo-controlled study, 27 Division II football players received either a placebo or a ZMA supplement for a total of seven weeks during their scheduled spring practice. At the end of the seven weeks, the players taking the ZMA supplement had a 30 percent increase in testosterone, while the placebo group had a 10 percent decrease. The ZMA group also saw an 11.6 percent increase in strength, compared to only 4.6 percent in the placebo group.[7]
For men with low blood testosterone levels, the benefits of hormone replacement therapy usually outweigh potential risks. However, for most other men it's a shared decision with your doctor. It offers men who feel lousy a chance to feel better, but that quick fix could distract attention from unknown long-term hazards. "I can't tell you for certain that this raises your personal risk of heart problems and prostate cancer, or that it doesn't," Dr. Pallais says.
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