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.
The use of anabolic steroids (manufactured androgenic hormones) shuts down the release of luteinising hormone and follicle stimulating hormone secretion from the pituitary gland, which in turn decreases the amount of testosterone and sperm produced within the testes. In men, prolonged exposure to anabolic steroids results in infertility, a decreased sex drive, shrinking of the testes and breast development. Liver damage may result from its prolonged attempts to detoxify the anabolic steroids. Behavioural changes (such as increased irritability) may also be observed. Undesirable reactions also occur in women who take anabolic steroids regularly, as a high concentration of testosterone, either natural or manufactured, can cause masculinisation (virilisation) of women.
Testosterone is a hormone produced in the male testes. During a boy's pubescent years (ages 9 to 14), there is an increase in production that leads to male secondary sexual characteristics such as a deeper voice, more muscle mass, facial hair growth and enlargement of the Adam's apple (among others). Some teenage boys experience these puberty changes at later ages than others. The timing of puberty is often genetically determined (through heredity), but other factors can play a role in delaying it, such as poor nutrition, physical trauma and certain diseases. Stimulating testosterone production naturally is possible in teen boys, although in rare cases hormone therapy may be needed to trigger and complete puberty.
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
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.
The mineral zinc is important for testosterone production, and supplementing your diet for as little as six weeks has been shown to cause a marked improvement in testosterone among men with low levels.1 Likewise, research has shown that restricting dietary sources of zinc leads to a significant decrease in testosterone, while zinc supplementation increases it2 -- and even protects men from exercised-induced reductions in testosterone levels.3
There are supplements out there that promise to increase your libido while also upping your testosterone. There are over the counter testosterone supplements and prescription supplements. There are supplements that market themselves as T-boosters, while also touting themselves as an aphrodisiac. And then there are companies that claim to have developed a testosterone pill that contains the triumvirate of male-enhancing properties: T-boosting, libido-enhancing, and even fertility-increasing. These supplement makers sometimes throw in an additional claim of muscle gain as well.
"I'm 53 years old and my passion is surfing the oceans worldwide – big waves. Since taking Andro400, I'm now down to my ideal weight – from 185 to 175 now which is probably a net 15 pound loss, taking into account that the increased muscle I have now is heavier than the fat it replaced. My energy level is up. I feel strong and more physically fit in general. Also, from surfing I have been injured many times – for example I've broken my neck and pelvis among other things. Taking Andro400, I have much less pain overall – and I've been able to take less pain medication and anti-inflammatory drugs.”
Fenugreek is often found in Indian, Turkish, and Persian cuisine. Multiple studies have found it to improve testosterone levels, and in particular, sexual performance. Scientists at Babu Banarasi Das University and King George’s Medical University in India have found that fenugreek improved testosterone levels. Testosterone levels increased for 90% of the volunteers, sperm morphology (the size and shape of sperm) improved for 14.6%, and more than 50% of volunteers experienced improvements in mental alertness, mood, and libido.
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. Then, 5α-DHT and 5β-DHT are converted by 3α-HSD into 3α-androstanediol and 3α-etiocholanediol, respectively. Subsequently, 3α-androstanediol and 3α-etiocholanediol are converted by 17β-HSD into androsterone and etiocholanolone, which is followed by their conjugation and excretion. 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. A small portion of approximately 3% of testosterone is reversibly converted in the liver into androstenedione by 17β-HSD.
Ensure that you get adequate restful sleep each night. Sleeping less than the recommended 6 to 8 hours per night increases stress hormones, which lowers testosterone production. Additionally, learn to manage stress levels in healthy ways to naturally increase testosterone. Hormone replacement therapy may be required for some men with low testosterone levels. Consult your physician about treatment options.