What Are Testosterone Boosters and Do They Really Work?

Testosterone boosters is a catch-all term given to a range of supplements that increase levels of testosterone. There are a number of options, depending on how severe the drop. If your testosterone levels need a gentle lift, herbal blends and products like Tribulus Terrestris (TT) can be bought in places like Holland & Barrett or Amazon.

If your symptoms are severe, there are other legal options to consider – like DHEA, a precursor steroid hormone available on prescription in the UK. It must be taken under supervision, though, because high doses can cause mood changes and aggression – roid rage, in other words – along with other unwanted symptoms of excessive testosterone. Other medications available from a specialist include Clomifene and HCG.

Do Any Testosterone Boosters Work?

If they’re legit, and your T-levels are genuinely low, then yes. “I have seen them work for people,” says GP and hormonal therapy expert at Omniya London, Dr Sohere Roked. “I think sometimes people feel that it’s not a good thing to do or they’re just wasting their time taking them, but I have seen people who combine that with a good diet and exercise and have noticed a change in their physique, their energy, their mood and the sort of things that testosterone would naturally help.”

There’s science behind testosterone boosters, too. Researchers from the Shanghai University of Sport monitored 15 male boxers during three weeks of high-intensity training and three weeks of high-volume training sessions, separated by four weeks of rest. Half the group were given 1250mg TT. Those taking the extracts significantly alleviated muscle damage and boosted their anaerobic performance.

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What Does Testosterone Booster Do Sexually?

Testosterone boosters can improve your between-the-sheets action – cranking up your sex drive, energy levels, and making it easier to maintain an erection – but only if your T-levels are low. Boosting your testosterone levels excessively can cause unwanted (and even harmful) side effects – think: shrinking testicles, breast development, and a drop in sperm count (so, potentially infertility). It can even lead to erectile dysfunction.

“If you are struggling to get aroused or gain or maintain an erection, don’t just assume that it’s due to low testosterone levels,” Sonia Khan, lead pharmacist at Medicine Direct. “Everyday factors can also play a part in a low libido, such as alcohol, stress, depression, exhaustion and illness. It’s important to speak to an impartial medical professional about why you may have a low sex drive.”

What Are the Side Effects of Taking Testosterone Boosters?

Before taking any supplements, you need to determine whether low testosterone is actually the root cause of your symptoms. Taking something that you don’t need could potentially cause irreversible issues – so for that reason, steroid hormones like DHEA should never be prescribed without blood tests. Roked also recommends regular blood monitoring to make sure you’re taking the correct dosage.

The biggest problem with artificially hiking up your T-levels? Testosterone boosters can shut off your natural production and permanently lower your sperm count. They may also leave you open to unwanted side effects like acne, male pattern baldness, mood swings and aggressive behaviour. To give yourself the best possible chance of avoiding these side effects, always see an expert before buying testosterone boosters.

“I see people who’ve been doing things in the gym and they’ve never been told that it can shut off your own production and it can also irreversibly lower your sperm count,” says Roked. “These are all quite serious issues that – even though they may be rare – if it happened to you it would cause a big impact on your life, so it’s always best to do things with a specialist, but also for anyone it’s not a great idea to take things that aren’t needed.”

While steroids like DHEA can boost testosterone, if they’re used in the wrong dosages or by people who don’t need them, they can raise T-levels far beyond the normal (and safe) range. According to Dr. Emil Hodzovic, a competitive bodybuilder and doctor with Medichecks, steroids come with “a set of risks, including liver damage, hormone imbalance, high blood pressure, and a higher risk of a stroke or heart attack”.

Should Men Take Testosterone?

Cranking up your T-levels with testosterone boosters without taking care of your basic health and well-being is running before you can walk. In other words, if you haven’t put the foundations in place, it’s utterly pointless – and potentially harmful to your health.

“Poor lifestyle can mimic the symptoms of low testosterone and can actually cause low testosterone as well,” says Hodzovic. “The main culprits include lack of sleep, excessive stress, too little or too much exercise and too little or too much body fat.

“Getting healthy and active and eating a balanced nutritious diet along with enough sleep are the most important things to do. Taking testosterone boosters without addressing these basics is likely going to have minimal effect even if testosterone levels are low.”

How Can a Man Increase Testosterone?

Filling up on zinc and omega-3 fatty acids will naturally help to boost your T-levels, says Roked. If you’re looking to boost your testosterone through your diet, try adding the testosterone-boosting foods to your shopping list – or if you’re deficient, pop a supp.

Switched up your diet and lifestyle and still haven’t seen any improvements? It’s time to consult an expert. Remember, “it’s not really going to work if you’re taking loads of stuff, but not looking after the basics,” says Roked. So, be honest with yourself.

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