You (Probably) Shouldn’t Be Taking Testosterone

We get it—you’d like to be more “manly.”  The big muscles, the energy, the sex appeal…we’d all like a little boost. But you should think twice before taking testosterone, especially if you’re trying to conceive.

Testosterone supplements are often used as a cure for low libido (sex drive) as well as other chronic diseases or injuries that can cause low levels of the key male hormone.

Today, men are going into their doctor’s offices not for low testosterone levels specifically, but for the perceived benefits that they believe the “T” supplements will bring to them. More importantly, they believe that a boost in T could lead to higher chances of getting their partner pregnant. Unfortunately, they’re wrong.

What’s wrong with testosterone?

The male brain is in charge of regulating the body’s hormones; one hormone in particular, called GnRH, signals the testes to make testosterone, which is necessary for healthy sperm count. However, when a man takes T supplements, the brain is tricked into thinking that the body has enough naturally-produced T already. When the testes themselves don’t make testosterone, sperm production goes down—and can even drop to zero.

Michael Eisenberg, a urologist at Stanford Medical Center, says that “testosterone supplements have ben been researched as a method of birth control” because of their anti-fertility effects.  Dr. Peter Kolettis, a professor of urology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, led a study to measure the effects of T on men who want to have children. He found that the supplements had side effects such as male breast growth and blood clots, and average sperm concentration jumped from 1.8 million per milliliter to 34 million per milliliter when the men stopped taking the testosterone supplements.

If this is you, don’t worry. In most cases the sperm inhibition is temporary and sperm count can recover within several months after stopping T supplements. If you have been measured for low T and you’re trying to have children, talk with your doctor about pituitary hormone treatments or other options which can increase your T level without disrupting sperm production.

All in all—you’re manly. We won’t forget it, and neither will those who love you. The true test of a man’s character is what he is willing to do for his family. The big delts are secondary.

References

“Can Testosterone Levels Affect Fertility?” Center For Male Reproductive Medicine, CMRM.

Dotinga, Randy. “Testosterone Supplements May Hurt Male Fertility, Study Finds.” WebMD.

Masson, Puneet. “The Truth About Testosterone and Male Fertility.” Penn Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 9 July 2015.

McMillen, Matt. “Low Testosterone and Infertility.” WebMD.

“Testosterone Use And Male Infertility.” Reproductive Facts, ASRM, 2015.

Sharpe, Richard M. “Sperm Counts and Fertility in Men: a Rocky Road Ahead.” EMBO Reports, vol. 13, no. 5, May 2012, pp. 398–403.