- Lowering testosterone requires informed decisions to prevent health risks.
- Reasons for lowering testosterone include hormone transitions and test preparations.
- Many suggested methods to reduce testosterone are unproven and can be harmful.
- Seek testosterone testing at reputable clinics for accurate and comprehensive assessments.
- Misusing testosterone treatments can jeopardise health, especially when not medically indicated.
Although there are some reasons why you would want to think about lowering your hormone levels, lowering testosterone isn't a casual decision. Attempting to lower testosterone levels without the right information can lead to several health issues.
Why people want to lower testosterone levels?
Low testosterone levels, commonly referred to as 'low T', can arise naturally in various circumstances. Conditions such as obesity, chronic illness, or the natural ageing process can sometimes be culprits behind reduced testosterone levels.1 However, there are certain situations where an individual may actively want to lower their testosterone levels, including but not limited to:
- Hormone Transitions: Testosterone treatment – that is, to lower testosterone levels – is a necessary component of care for gender-diverse individuals transitioning from male to female.2 This procedure can help in achieving desired physical and emotional changes in alignment with their gender identity.
- Preparing for Testosterone Tests: On the other hand, there's a subset of people keen on understanding how to lower testosterone levels temporarily before undergoing a test. Their aim? To appear to have 'low T' for specific reasons when the blood test results come in.
It’s important to understand that despite your reasons for looking into the ways in which you can lower your testosterone, you need to make sure that any action you take is done so under the guidance and supervision of a medical professional. Attempting to lower your testosterone levels on your own accord before a test can be dangerous, putting elements of your health at risk.
The harmful side of unproven testosterone lowering methods
If you find yourself frequently Googling terms such as “how to lower testosterone for blood test?” to help lower testosterone naturally, you’ll more often than not end up looking at a myriad of lifestyle suggestions. It's important to note that many of these methods are not only unproven but could also be harmful to your health. Here are some methods often mentioned:
- Intentionally Gaining Weight: While it is acknowledged that obesity can naturally result in lowered testosterone, intentionally putting on weight is not a recommended approach.3 This will only put you at risk for several health concerns, from cardiovascular diseases to type 2 diabetes, the complications of which can be severe.
- Leading a Sedentary Lifestyle: Although research shows that lack of activity might depress testosterone levels, choosing to be inactive is detrimental for overall health.4 Reduced activity levels are linked with obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and decreased mental well-being.
- Misuse of Pain Medications: Though some opioids and narcotic medicines have the potential to lower testosterone levels, the long-term health risks associated with these medications, including addiction and a range of side effects, are significant.5
- Using Anabolic Steroids: There's a misconception that using steroids might help in controlling testosterone levels. However, these substances can lead to the shutdown of natural testosterone production and might result in permanent hormonal imbalances.6
- Deliberate Sleep Deprivation: While sleep disruptions may influence testosterone levels, intentionally depriving oneself of sleep can have catastrophic effects on overall health, from cognitive function deterioration to immune system suppression.7
It's vital to stress the inherent risks associated with these methods. Manipulating testosterone levels through any of the approaches listed above can have serious health implications. And while the internet might be a rich source of information, you need to be wary and distinguish between what's safe and what's not. If in doubt, always seek guidance from a healthcare professional before considering any changes to your health regimen. Putting your health at risk intentionally by trying to alter testosterone levels is not only risky but could lead to lasting health problems.
Why you should get tested at a reputable clinic
If you're considering getting your testosterone levels checked, it’s important to do so under the care of a reputable healthcare professional, and preferably, in a well-equipped clinic. Testosterone levels naturally vary throughout the day, with the highest readings typically in the morning.8 By getting your testosterone levels checked at a clinic, you'll have the test conducted under the correct circumstances, ensuring the most accurate results.
Additionally, numerous medications can impact your testosterone levels. As mentioned above, steroids might momentarily increase these levels, but there can be a swift drop when they're discontinued. Medications like barbiturates, anticonvulsants, and specific hormone therapies can also skew your results.5,6,9 An experienced doctor or nurse will be familiar with these variables and will advise on any necessary adjustments before testing.
More importantly, it’s worth noting that presenting symptoms might not solely be linked to testosterone levels. While you may attribute your symptoms to testosterone and proceed to seek treatment on your own, oftentimes this may not be the case. Instead, a healthcare professional can order and carry out additional tests that will guide diagnosis in the right direction, making sure that you don’t receive the wrong treatment.
Think twice before lowering testosterone levels before a test
Starting testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) when it's not medically indicated can often lead to more health problems than solutions.10 For healthy men with normal testosterone levels, TRT can lead to higher than ‘“normal” testosterone levels, which can jeopardise health. For example, men with existing heart problems, sleep apnea, or a history of high red blood cell counts should be particularly cautious, as TRT could exacerbate these conditions.10 Similarly, those diagnosed with prostate or breast cancer should tread carefully, given that TRT could pose additional risks in these scenarios.11
Despite what mass media portrays, it’s important to cement into your understanding that testosterone isn’t a means of supplementing a particular lifestyle. Resorting to testosterone-boosting products, often sold at gyms or online, can be dangerous, particularly if they’re not manufactured by companies that meet strict health and safety regulations. For instance, TRT, when used incorrectly or against advice, can significantly decrease sperm count, impairing fertility.11 Men planning to start a family should be cautious unless otherwise indicated by a healthcare professional.
If in doubt, get a thorough health check
If you’ve noticed any symptoms that resemble those caused by low testosterone, then it’s important not to assume, and instead reach out to your healthcare provider for accurate testing. Always consult with your GP if you're worried about any health symptoms. They will guide you in understanding what's happening and advise if further specialist input is required.
- Cohen J, et al. Frontiers in Endocrinology 2020;10.
- Nolan BJ, et al. JAMA Network Open 2023;6(9).
- Kelly DM, Jones TH. Obes Rev 2015;16:581–606.
- Kumagai H, et al. J Clin Biochem Nutr 2016;58: 84–89.
- Marudhai S, et al. Cureus 2020. doi:10.7759/cureus.10813.
- Rasmussen JJ, et al. PLoS One2016;11:e0161208.
- Su L, et al. Sleep Med 2021; 88: 267–273.
- Crawford ED, et al. Curr Med Res Opin 2015;31:1911–1914.
- Svalheim S, et al. Seizure 2015;28:12–17.
- Schlich C, et al. Hosp Pharm 2016;51:712–720.
- Morley J. Ther Clin Risk Manag 2009;427.