Testosterone pills and boosters are often advertised as being the ultimate solution to a low sex drive, low endurance, and low muscle mass. But many over-the-counter testosterone supplement side effects can do serious and permanent harm to your body. Although scientific evidence suggests that these pills may not truly work at boosting testosterone, many health and nutrition stores continue selling these dubious products to unknowing consumers.
Do over-the-counter testosterone boosters really work? Are testosterone supplements really safe? Here’s what you need to know about testosterone and the hidden risks behind using OTC testosterone pills.
Why Is the Process of Maintaining Testosterone Levels So Important?
Testosterone is the main male sex hormone responsible for masculinity. Testosterone plays an important role in male sexual libido, sperm production, muscle mass, and facial hair growth. Testosterone also plays a major role in regulating and controlling mood, energy, sleep, and fat distribution. Without adequate levels of testosterone, men can suffer a multitude of health problems, including decreased sex drive, infertility, depression, fatigue, and insomnia.
A man’s testosterone levels start to decline gradually after the age of 30. Around this time, many men turn to testosterone supplements with hopes of boosting their testosterone levels. However, men who use these testosterone-enhancing products are unknowingly putting themselves at risk for health problems that extend well beyond the effects of low testosterone.
Do OTC Testosterone Boosters Really Work?
Do testosterone boosters work? Some testosterone boosters are shown to increase testosterone levels by between 20 and 50 percent, but most do not significantly increase your levels above the normal baseline of 400 ng/dL. These products may provide a short-term boost in testosterone, but not a long-term boost that can effectively ward off related health problems.
Testosterone boosters should not be confused with testosterone replacement therapy — the latter of which is administered by your doctor. With hormone replacement therapy, your doctor performs a blood test to measure your actual testosterone levels. Then, you receive synthetic or plant-based testosterone in the form of a patch, gel, injection, or tablet that raises your levels back to their normal range.
OTC testosterone supplements contain ingredients and nutrients that have been directly and indirectly linked to higher testosterone. For instance, some boosters contain zinc and magnesium. Supplementation of these minerals can take your testosterone levels to the normal baseline, but not any higher. Some boosters don’t contain minerals like these at all, and instead, they function like sleep aids. For instance, many boosters contain ingredients like valerian root that indirectly boost testosterone by helping you sleep better at night.
Are Testosterone Boosters Safe?
Are testosterone supplements safe? Some OTC testosterone boosters may be safe when used in moderation, but they cannot permanently raise or maintain your testosterone levels. All forms of OTC testosterone boosters offer their own unique health risks. The key to staying safe when using OTC testosterone boosters is reading the ingredients labels and choosing products that are approved by your doctor or the FDA.
Many OTC testosterone boosters come from unreliable sources — meaning the ingredients may not be pure, of high quality, or effective at increasing testosterone. Some manufacturers fail to disclose some ingredients on their labels, including anabolic steroids. Anabolic steroids are synthetic versions of testosterone linked to liver damage, kidney failure, and an increased risk for heart attack and prostate cancer.
Over the years, many male consumers of OTC testosterone boosters have reported adverse testosterone booster side effects from using these products. Severe abdominal pain, kidney abnormalities, and acute liver failure are just some serious health problems that are documented and linked to OTC testosterone boosters. Even testosterone boosters that are obtained from trusted sources and used as directed are found to present serious health risks.
What Are Common Side Effects of Testosterone Pills?
Using OTC testosterone pills regularly can cause your body to build a tolerance to these substances. Over time, your body may stop producing testosterone on its own and come to rely on OTC supplementation. Testosterone boosters may also permanently lower your sperm count, causing major problems with infertility.
Other side effects of OTC testosterone pills may include:
- Shrunken testicles
- Male pattern balding and hair loss
- Development of male breasts, a condition known as gynecomastia
- Increased risk for prostate cancer
- Increased risk for blood clots
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Enlarged heart
- Extreme paranoia
- Unreasonable jealousy
- Impaired judgment
- Mood swings and irritability
- Kidney problems
- Liver damage and failure
If you are experiencing any of the above testosterone supplements side effects after using testosterone booster pills, you may want to ask your doctor about safe alternatives.
What Are Safe Alternatives to OTC Testosterone Pills?
There are countless safe ways to boost your testosterone naturally without having to turn to OTC testosterone boosters. Healthy lifestyle behaviors such as exercising regularly, getting plenty of quality sleep, and eating highly-nutritious foods can help raise your body’s testosterone levels to a normal range.
Exercise and sleep can balance your hormones to help you maintain high testosterone levels. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, and poultry are loaded with nutrients like zinc, magnesium, and vitamin D, which have been shown to boost testosterone naturally. Stay away from alcohol, sugary foods, and meats that contain antibiotics and hormones, since these foods can cause fluctuations in your testosterone.
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