Over the past few years, the role of testosterone in maintaining muscle mass, endurance and sex drive has been well-established. But there are pros and cons to testosterone supplementation.
Positive effects may include improved energy and muscle mass, but potential side-effects and the cost of the medications keep many men from using testosterone replacement therapy.
Men often turn to over-the-counter supplements and herbal remedies to boost testosterone levels and improve erectile dysfunction. These products are marketed aggressively in advertisements, stores, gyms and more.
Unfortunately, these products are not controlled by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which provides oversight and testing on prescribed medications. Because of this lack of oversight, companies selling these products typically overstate the virtues of their products in hopes of increasing sales. Most of the products lack good scientific data that support their claims of improving testosterone levels or improving sexual function because the industry is not mandated to do so as is the case with prescription drugs.
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Rather than turning to supplements, men should try the following healthy lifestyle changes that may very well increase your natural production of testosterone.
1. Lose weight. The vast majority of men in the U.S. could stand to lose a few pounds. There is a direct correlation between a man’s fat mass and low testosterone levels. Most men will see improvement in testosterone levels with weight loss.
2. Participate in regular cardiovascular exercise. Multiple studies have shown that men who exercise for 30 minutes three to four times a week have higher testosterone levels than men who don’t exercise regularly.
3. Improve your diet. Increasing fresh fruits and vegetables and decreasing processed food in the diet have been shown to improve testosterone levels.
4. Decrease environmental stressors. Stressful job situations, long work hours and poor sleep habits can decrease testosterone production. Improving these stressors can increase testosterone levels.
5. Review medications. Multiple medications, particularly pain medications, have a significant effect on testosterone levels. Stopping or decreasing these medications often improve testosterone levels.
Quite often lifestyle changes can improve a man’s testosterone levels — and overall health — without the use of ineffective over-the counter supplements or prescription medications.
Dr. John Greer is a board-certified urologic surgeon who specializes in male infertility. He is a founding member of Idaho Urologic Institute. Greer is a member of the American Urological Association, the Idaho Medical Association, the Ada County Medical Society and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. He is also a diplomate of the American Board of Urology.