It is known that having low testosterone within the body, can lead to a multiple of health issues, one of which being a low sex drive. Keep in mind that it is very normal for testosterone to decrease as you age. Men and women’s testosterone levels will be at their peak within their 20s but then begin to decline after hitting 30 naturally.
Your sex drive is not only affected by testosterone levels only, it is also affected by lifestyle factors such as diet, activity, existing metabolic syndromes, stress, and the general quality of life.
For each man and woman, they can report different symptoms of low testosterone within their body, and it may surprise you that not all report a low sexual function, even when the quantitative tests say otherwise. Everyone’s maintenance of their sexual desires will differ. Yet, for those that believe their sex drive has taken a hit due to low hormone testosterone levels, you probably will be contemplating if testosterone supplements will help your low libido.
Within this guide, I will elaborate on the evidence to support interventions, regarding testosterone supplements.
What does testosterone do within the body?
Testosterone is the primary sex hormone for males. Although women also produce testosterone in smaller amounts, both the sexes depend on testosterone to oblige the key biological processes that occur within the body. Testosterone is what men’s health and sexual function orientates around, it is pinnacle actually, to dictating a good quality of life. In women, yes it is also very important, yet sexual drive also comes from the key sex hormone estrogen too. Testosterone levels at adequate amounts in men, steer the maturity of the sexual organs, alongside the features of masculinity, such as muscle volume, depth of voice and most importantly, sperm production for fertility and creating offspring. It is very normal that males see their testosterone levels fluctuate around the range of 300-1100ng/dL, with testosterone usually peaking during the early morning, after rest and replenishment. 
Men will find that testosterone levels will slowly begin to decline after 10 years from the peak of fertility, by roughly 2% for each following year. So, what does this mean for male sex drive in particular? Well, if a male finds himself still within the range referenced above, there is a low percentage of your sex drive and libido taking a hit. It is often when there is a drastic drop in testosterone levels, that is when low libido is more common and sex drive is little to non-existent. Other factors such as erectile dysfunction are more probable for symptoms too. Low testosterone in men and women is medically labelled as hypogonadism.
Does testosterone increase sex drive?
Testosterone is vital for sex drive. It is particularly responsible during years of puberty, for the health development of sex organs in both men and women. Should men and women suffer from hypogonadism before hitting puberty, sex drive and sex life later on will be particularly compromised and treatment from health professionals will be necessary.
A great example of understanding how the hormone testosterone is key for sex drive, is through the observation of most males during the period of morning. After males become rested through the night, their sperm production replenishes, as does their testosterone hormone levels. For that reason, men always report the highest sex drive within the hours of the morning, due to the peak of testosterone increase within their bodies.
The Massachusetts study explains very well how low testosterone is directly linked to sexual function within men. The study had men of varied age, and all those who had lower levels of testosterone than the recommended amount, showcased lower sex drive or a lack of sex drive all together. A large correlation of low testosterone and lack of sex drive was in men aged 47 or older, with a few exceptions of younger aged men too.  Men who had testosterone levels that met the medically recommended amount in the blood, reported regular sexual function in relation to their standards of lifestyle.
Women directly depend on testosterone too for a sex drive, particularly for the function and sensitivity of the sex organs. When we take a woman’s menstrual cycle, testosterone is a key hormone in the stimulation and signalling of the LH and FSH hormones, which prepare the ovulatory phase within the uterus. Testosterone is a precursor to the follicular phase (pre-ovulation) within women and allows these key hormones to rise and prepare the womb for her fertile phase.
Should there be an imbalance in any case to the regulation of these primary hormones, a woman’s cycle and stimulants for fertility will be out of sync, meaning having a sexual drive will be more difficult to achieve.
However, should a woman perhaps have too much estrogen in the body, that can also affect the testosterone levels within the blood. Too much estrogen (caused by health issues such as PCOS, obesity etc.), can suppress the function of testosterone as estrogen promotes the presence of the SHBG protein (sex hormone binding globulin) present within the body. This protein latches on testosterone and removes it from blood circulation.  This is why synthetic based estrogen medications such as the hormonal contraceptive pill, can directly affect a females sex drive.
A testosterone booster is a testosterone treatment that can be administered in effort to raise standing testosterone level concentrations within the blood. Testosterone boosters can be in the form of testosterone replacement therapy, which first and foremost needs to be medically reviewed and administered by a health professional. You will find these can be anything from injectable testosterone boosters, to oral capsules, or transdermal patches applied directly to the skin.  However, there are testosterone boosters that are directly available to be bought over the counter without any restrictions, requirement of health information or health and wellness professionals to provide you guidance on your choice. Common selections of these include:
- D-aspartic acid also known as DAA
- Dehydroepiandrosterone also known as DHEA
Both of these are not direct forms of testosterone to be consumed. They contain substances which trigger hormones in relationship to testosterone production from the adrenal glands, and they also have been noted to have far less physical symptoms/side effects than that of pure testosterone treatment. It is worth mentioning that depending on the medical health reasonings behind your irregular testosterone levels, that will of course have different affects when it comes to testosterone treatment for low libido/sex drive and low testosterone overall.
How effective are testosterone boosters for low libido and low testosterone?
It is believed that testosterone boosters are effective when it comes to directly treating low testosterone and its side effects, such as low sex drive. However, it has been disputed by health and wellness professionals to not treat any underlying causes for low testosterone in men and women. Studies have proved that testosterone treatment through supplementation, can lead to moderately improved sexual function over the year, with particular reference to the T booster D aspartic acid (DAA). This treatment, combined with the relationship between younger age and an existing level of fitness, had significant changes in their maintenance of base testosterone levels. However those that were close to the onset of ageing and the natural decline of testosterone, noted hardly any huge changes in their sex life and low libido symptoms overall. 
Other studies involving comparisons between the amino acid supplementation and more aggressive testosterone therapies, saw more improvement to their testosterone levels and libido. However side effects such as acne, and water retention are prominent risks to this intervention. That is why medical professionals are always on the fence when it comes to using such testosterone interventions so widely.
The food and drug administration have actively said how boosting testosterone through supplementation cannot be scientifically backed up to improve low libido and low levels of testosterone (published in The World Journal of Men’s Health.). In fact more than 75% of media websites showcase false or exaggerated claims. Once many of the big booster names were reviewed by medically based research teams, and checked for their content, they mostly contained excessive vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin D and zinc within them. The other 25% has data and studies to support the claims of improved libido. Data use and product development when it comes to making supplements, is vital for any product that wishes to enter the health market. That is why all the big boards such as the FDA, MHRA and equivalents within other regions will not approve the content and acclaimed service that the supplements are told to provide.
Does testosterone supplements help erectile dysfunction?
When it comes to erectile dysfunction, low testosterone is not usually the only direct cause for this problem. It can actually be persistently aggravated through irregular blood flow that isn’t able to reach the penis. Erectile dysfunction can also occur due to metabolic syndromes such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and psychological problems like depression and anxiety.
Therefore, treating erectile dysfunction with just testosterone when the subject does not have low levels within the blood would be pointless. Erectile dysfunction due to low testosterone must be first proven via blood work tests, and medically reviewed and approved by a doctor. Before testosterone therapy is looked upon, your doctor will check if existing conditions such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes are another conflict and cause of erectile dysfunction. Usually a lifestyle change to ease such metabolic stresses will be the first solution, before testosterone therapy is considered.
Testosterone boosters that are used towards treating erectile dysfunction will come with risks. It has been known to increase the risk of heart disease in patients, and in some cases even cause the prostate of men to become enlarged with fluid, and lead to further possibilities of tumour growths that are cancerous. The American Urological Association have stated that the risks are greater than the chances of improving the symptoms of erectile dysfunction, as in most cases testosterone therapy will increase sex drive, mood and energy but not actually aid the erectile dysfunction directly.  Should the erectile dysfunction be diagnosed due to low testosterone, and the erectile dysfunction being your only symptom, it may be worth checking out medically reviewed medicines to boost erections, as well as making lifestyle changes (diet, exercise and weight loss goals). Medicine that would be suggested include Viagra, Levitra and Cialis.
Side effects from testosterone boosters
In account of testosterone levels and hormone treatment to improve sexual function, research and studies have been medically reviewed to weigh out the risks that come from boosters and supplements. It has been shown on many accounts that these supplements have contributed to heart problems, particularly in men who participated in studies over the age of 65.  Further studies involving treatment of low testosterone levels and boosters, saw an increased risk of heart attacks when taking them.
Complications may also arise when it comes to the prostate and the effect testosterone boosters may have on them. Testicular shrinkage is one extreme complication that can occur, alongside prostate enlargement. Both extremes have direct causes of reduced sperm production and reduced blood circulation, which can worsen symptoms of erectile dysfunction sometimes.  Alternative symptoms that are not as extreme yet still can cause discomfort, include sleep apnea and acne flares on the skin. Content of these supplements will of course react and act in boosting testosterone differently from person to person, meaning testosterone levels and sex drive may not always increase as a result too.
- Aremu, F., 2021. Can Testosterone Supplements Improve Sex Drive?. [online] Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/low-testosterone/do-testosterone-supplements-work#what-is-testosterone [Accessed 26 May 2021].
- Robinson, J., 2021. Low Testosterone and Your Sex Drive. [online] WebMD. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/men/how-low-testosterone-can-affect-your-sex-drive# [Accessed 26 May 2021].
- Toler, S., 2019. How hormones affect your body. [online] Helloclue.com. Available at: https://helloclue.com/articles/cycle-a-z/what-you-should-know-about-hormones [Accessed 26 May 2021].
- Eske, J., 2020. Testosterone boosters: Uses and effectiveness. [online] Medicalnewstoday.com. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/testosterone-boosters-uses-and-effectiveness [Accessed 26 May 2021].
- Choosing Wisely Canada. 2021. Treatment for Erection Problems: When you need testosterone treatment and when you don’t. [online] Available at: https://choosingwiselycanada.org/treatment-erection-problems/ [Accessed 26 May 2021].
Frequently Asked Questions
Can testosterone therapy improve erectile dysfunction?
Testosterone therapy has proven to have little effects on erectile dysfunction overall. It has a better effect on other common symptoms of low testosterone, such as sex drive and energy. The reason being is most times, erectile dysfunction is caused by other underlying health issues such as blood circulation and blood pressure.
What are testosterone boosters?
Testosterone boosters are supplements that can be taken to boost your testosterone circulation within the blood. Some can be bought over the counter, where others need to be reviewed by medically practicing professionals and prescribed.