Are OTC Testosterone Supplements Effective?

Reviewed on 10/12/2022
A man holding testosterone supplements pills in his hand
There is no evidence that over-the-counter (OTC) testosterone supplements (“T boosters”) can help increase testosterone levels.

Over-the-counter (OTC) testosterone supplements, also called “T boosters” are often taken by men who wish to increase their testosterone levels. However, there is no evidence these supplements are effective. 

  • Testosterone is a male sex hormone and it helps regulate sex drive (libido), muscle mass and strength, fat distribution, bone mass, and the production of red blood cells and sperm.
  • Most men will experience a gradual decline in testosterone starting in their 30s, which may result in symptoms such as erectile dysfunction and loss of strength. For this reason, many men look to OTC testosterone supplements to restore what may have been lost. 

Many of these OTC testosterone supplements make claims that they “boost T or free T,” “build body lean mass or muscle mass,” or “increase sex drive or libido.” The issue with these supplements is that many do not have ingredients that can help increase testosterone levels. Zinc, vitamin B6, and fenugreek extract are common components in these supplements but none of them have been shown to improve testosterone levels in men. Many of these supplements also contain excessively high doses of vitamins and minerals

In addition, dietary supplements, including OTC testosterone supplements, are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and: 

  • May not do what they claim
  • May not contain quantities of ingredients listed on the label
  • May not contain the ingredients listed on the label at all
  • May contain additional ingredients not listed
  • Don’t always work as advertised
  • May be dangerous

Talk to your doctor before taking any supplements. 

What Are Symptoms of Low Testosterone in Men?

Symptoms of low testosterone in men may include: 

  • Reduced sex drive
  • Reduced muscle and bone mass
  • Increased body fat
  • Difficulty achieving an erection
  • Difficulty sustaining erections
  • Sleep problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue 
  • Swollen or tender breasts
  • Flushing or hot flashes
  • Depression
  • Reduced self-confidence

What Causes Low Testosterone in Men?

In addition to aging, causes of low testosterone in men include: 

What Are Risks of Testosterone Therapy in Men?

While testosterone therapy can be helpful for some men, it can carry some side effects and risks, such as:

  • Acne 
  • Disturbed breathing while sleeping
  • Breast swelling or tenderness
  • Swelling in the ankles 
  • High red blood cell counts, which could increase the risk of clotting
  • May increase risk of heart problems 
  • May increase risk of prostate cancer

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Reviewed on 10/12/2022

Image source: iStock Images