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Does Coffee Increase or Lower Testosterone? (Science-Based)

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: December 29, 2021

As the most popular ingredient in coffee, caffeine provides stimulating effects that start the day with a much-needed increase in energy.

Aside from energy and alertness, coffee can also affect your body and sex hormones, including testosterone.

After spending hundreds of hours reviewing published literature on caffeine, here’s what I learned about coffee’s effects on the primary male sex hormone.

Article Summary

  • Caffeine is mostly used for increasing energy and enhancing athletic performance. It can also affect the body’s sex hormones by acting as an aromatase inhibitor that boosts testosterone production. 
  • A study has shown that men who consume caffeine regularly are more likely to have higher testosterone levels. 
  • Adults should not go beyond 400 mg of caffeine a day. This amount is equivalent to about four cups of coffee.

Is Caffeinated Coffee Good for Testosterone?

hand view of a man holding a cup of coffee

Several studies have proven that caffeinated coffee is good for testosterone.

Recent research on the health benefits of coffee has revealed that it can boost athletic performance and help middle-aged men maintain muscle strength.

One of the latest findings on coffee has shown that the consumption of caffeinated coffee benefits hormone levels, particularly testosterone production.

Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone that is often associated with sperm production and sex drive.

It’s also responsible for regulating the fat distribution, red blood cell production, and muscle mass growth.

With so many men struggling with testosterone-related issues, it’s crucial to understand how caffeine consumption can help address this specific hormonal deficit.

What Exactly is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a drug that stimulates the nervous system. Increased alertness is its most noticeable effect.

Caffeine is found in many drinks such as: 

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Soft drinks
  • Energy drinks
  • Workout supplement

It speeds up the connections traveling between your brain and body, thereby improving your alertness and mood.

However, caffeine isn’t all good. Consuming too much of it may lead to several negative symptoms, including:

  • Diarrhea
  • High blood pressure
  • Restlessness
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
man thinking while holding a coffee jar

According to a Nutrition Journal study, men who consume caffeinated beverages are more likely to have higher testosterone levels [1].

This study was conducted over eight weeks, and participants were divided into two control groups.

One group consumed coffee with caffeine, while the other group consumed decaffeinated coffee.

Four weeks into the Nutrition Journal study, the group who had coffee with caffeine experienced significant increases in their total testosterone levels.

They reduced the amount of total and free estradiol in their bodies.

Within those four weeks, the caffeinated participants saw significant increases in the ratio of their testosterone to total and free estradiol, a potential marker for aromatase activity.

Researchers said that caffeine might act as an aromatase inhibitor that can activate testosterone production.

“Unlike most other psychoactive substances, caffeine use is socially acceptable, and the drug is widely used. Caffeine is the most commonly used psychoactive substance in the world.” - Steven E. Meredith, Postdoctoral research fellow at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

While the results of this research are significant, coffee is not the end-all-be-all of testosterone deficiency treatment. Men with symptoms of low testosterone levels should seek the help of their doctor.

Although these findings have confirmed that caffeine may boost testosterone, you must first understand your current total testosterone levels.

If you feel like your T-levels are diminishing, you might want to do blood tests to know where you are on the scale.

From there, you can determine whether something as simple as increasing your caffeine intake can help address your low testosterone levels or not.

How Caffeine Affects Your Other Hormones

man holding his face in shock

Caffeine can affect certain hormones by either influencing their production or impacting their receptors.

Your body creates hormones that impact your mood, energy levels, sleeping patterns, and behavior.

Below, I’ve listed some common hormones and how caffeine affects them.

Cortisol

Also known as the stress hormone, your body needs cortisol to perform several daily functions. For example, your cortisol levels are usually at their peak during the morning to help you wake up.

Cortisol’s primary responsibilities include:

  • Producing the “fight-or-flight” response
  • Boosting energy levels
  • Controlling sleep cycles
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Increasing blood glucose
  • Managing the body’s use of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats from food

Having extremely high or low cortisol levels can be harmful. High levels can hinder brain function, slow metabolism, cause muscle weakness, and increase blood pressure, a condition associated with decreased testosterone levels [2].

On the other hand, lower levels can cause anxiety, fatigue, and mood swings. Caffeine can increase the cortisol in your body, but the level at which it is raised is unclear and would vary individually.

If a person who doesn’t usually ingest caffeine drinks large quantities of coffee, it is more likely to spike cortisol.

But if they drink coffee regularly and have a high tolerance for caffeine, their cortisol levels likely won’t rise [3].

Adrenaline

man with his arms up smiling

Like cortisol, adrenaline also provides a “fight-or-flight” response. However, it’s more of a short-term hormone, whereas cortisol works long-term.

Caffeine can cause temporary spikes in adrenaline and give energizing effects [4]. However, it may drop later in the day and leave you feeling tired.

Research says that too much caffeine can be harmful to your adrenal glands and lead to adrenal fatigue.

So, as you drink more coffee over time, the negative effects are likely to weaken.

Dopamine

Dopamine, often called the “happy hormone,” is responsible for providing feelings of euphoria.

The body releases these feel-good hormones after working out, which is why many exercises experience a specific high after a gym session. There is always dopamine in the brain, but higher levels elevate one’s mood.

Caffeine doesn’t directly increase dopamine, but it slows the rate at which it leaves the brain, keeping you happy for a longer time.

This is one reason why caffeine can be addictive—you get used to this feeling and enjoy it, and it leaves you craving for more.

Serotonin

man holding up two okay signs

Serotonin is another “feel good” hormone that can influence your mood, sex drive, sleep, memory, and more.

Prolonged caffeine use can cause your serotonin levels to deplete, leading to depression, change in sleep patterns, and cravings, among others [5].

If you begin to experience these adverse effects, you might want to decrease your caffeine intake.

But if you like the taste of coffee, you can try drinking decaffeinated coffee as a replacement.

Estrogen

Caffeine is believed to affect estrogen levels in women, but it depends on many factors.

In one study, women that ingested 200 mg of caffeine were reported to have lower estrogen levels than those who had consumed less caffeine [6].

Despite these findings, fluctuating estrogen levels didn’t seem to have any negative consequences for the women.

However, changes in estrogen levels may lead to severe medical conditions, including endometriosis, osteoporosis, and ovarian or breast cancer.

Related Articles:

How Much Coffee is Good for Testosterone?

According to a study published in Human Kinetics, doses of 400 mg or less of caffeine can potentially improve the beneficial effects of training by increasing bioavailable testosterone levels [7].

This amount is equal to four cups of coffee.

Does Coffee Increase Testosterone?

Coffee can increase testosterone, but you must drink it in moderate amounts to get the desired results. Otherwise, you may experience unwanted side effects.

Aside from impacting testosterone levels, caffeine can also affect other hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, dopamine, and estrogen.

Before consuming caffeine to address low T-levels, you must first gain a better understanding of your testosterone levels and health status. From there, you can determine the right treatment and tackle your hormonal deficit.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3502342/pdf/1475-2891-11-86.pdf
  2. https://academic.oup.com/endo/article-pdf/140/11/5112/10379287/endo5112.pdf
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2257922/
  4. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990305070427.htm
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6732540/
  6. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-study-shows-caffeine-consumption-linked-estrogen-changes
  7. https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/ijsnem/18/2/article-p131.xml

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