Total Shape is a reader-supported site. Purchases made through links may earn a commission. Learn more.

Testosterone Boosters vs TRT Supplements (Pros & Cons List)

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: September 28, 2022

Low testosterone can affect all aspects of your life — your energy and libido, which can also affect you mentally.

Many men in this situation turn to testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). However, testosterone supplements have been on the rise recently. So, how do you decide what’s right for you?

I’ve checked the research on the matter, and I’ve talked with my doctor friend to share information about these low testosterone treatments. Here’s what you should know about them.

Quick Summary

  • Testosterone levels drop as men age.
  • Both testosterone boosters and TRT can be used to raise the levels of testosterone.
  • T boosters are easier to get a hold of, while TRT is administered by healthcare professionals.

Testosterone Boosters

stack of pills

Testosterone boosters are sold as over-the-counter supplements.

They are mostly advertised as helping men increase testosterone levels, gain muscle mass, and improve sex drive.

Their ingredients are most often vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that the body needs to produce testosterone.

They don’t contain actual testosterone, also called free testosterone, because the body quickly metabolizes it.

Instead, T-boosting supplements contain other ingredients that stimulate the body to increase T levels to a normal range.

Testosterone boosters are advertised as a natural alternative to TRT. However, they aren’t controlled by the FDA.

There’s no strict control on manufacturing or quality, as is the case with TRT. You should buy testosterone boosters from trustworthy manufacturers and always check the ingredients and other users' reviews.

There are numerous claims of people saying testosterone supplements have helped them improve libido and energy levels.

Optimal testosterone levels lead to optimal bone density, energy, libido, and better inflammatory markers.

Bodybuilders commonly use T-boosting dietary supplements to build more muscle mass. They are a healthier alternative to anabolic steroids and can help you have better results while working out.

As for scientific research, a 2018 study done on 788 males with low T levels concluded that testosterone-boosting supplements showed improvements in T levels. [1]

Testosterone Boosters Cost

Cost is one of the main benefits of testosterone boosters. They are usually inexpensive, and their price ranges from as low as $20 to about $80 for one bottle.

If you’re on a budget and want a quick fix, testosterone boosters may be an excellent affordable solution to have normal testosterone levels.

Testosterone Boosters Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Easy to buy
  • No doctor visit needed
  • Usually have good shipping and return policies
  • Easy to take
  • Increased sex drive and better sexual function
  • Increased physical endurance
  • Build muscle mass
  • Increase bone density
  • Better mood
  • Higher energy levels
Cons
  • Unknown proprietary blends
  • Acne
  • Mood swings
  • Aggression
  • Hair loss
  • Depression
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Higher risk of cardiovascular diseases
  • Inaccurate labels
  • Bad customer experience

Testosterone Replacement Therapy

arm with skin patch and a person getting an injection

Testosterone replacement therapy is a medical therapy prescribed and managed by medical professionals, and it’s approved by the FDA. TRT uses bio-identical testosterone as a medical treatment.

During TRT, your doctor monitors your testosterone levels and helps treat the symptoms of low T.

Usually, the patients see improvements very quickly when taking testosterone shots.

TRT can help with erectile dysfunction, anxiety, low mood, and more, and it comes in various alternatives.

The doctor decides which TRT is best for you. Compared to T booster supplements, more patients have experienced improvements in their testosterone levels when doing TRT.

TRT therapy can be in the form of:

  • Skin patches — applied once a day on the arm or upper body.
  • Gels — usually applied directly to the skin, but some can be applied through the nose once a day.
  • Injections — testosterone can be injected into the muscle, where it’s slowly released into the bloodstream.
  • Mouth patch — sticks to the upper gums where it releases testosterone. Applied twice a day.

"Testosterone patches and gels are much more successful in establishing relatively stable, normal levels. Injections are certainly efficacious, but a problem is testosterone levels go quite high after injection and peak at levels above normal, then fall relatively quickly – frequently to levels that are below normal – before the next injection."

- Dr. Eric Orwoll, Professor of Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University

TRT therapy means frequent visits to the doctor for blood tests and testosterone injections, and hormone replacement therapy adjustments if needed.

Compared to T boosters, testosterone therapy is proven to increase low testosterone levels, and some studies claim it aids testosterone deficiency.

TRT Cost

TRT is a medical procedure, so your medical insurance should cover it.

In case you don’t have insurance, you’ll have to pay for testosterone treatment yourself. In this case, prescription testosterone injection is the most affordable option, and they cost about $100 per injection.

TRT Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Improvement in energy
  • Higher sex drive
  • Higher bone density
  • Helps build muscle mass
  • Mood improvements
  • FDA approved
  • Clinically proven benefits
  • Better athletic performance
Cons
  • Rash, itching, or irritation where the TRT is applied
  • Expensive
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Prostate cancer
  • Liver toxicity
  • Obligatory follow-up blood testing
  • Obligatory doctor visits
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Low sperm count
  • Chest pain
  • Heart disease
  • Acne
  • Aggression

How to Check if You Have Low T Levels?

vials of blood samples

The best way to check if you have low testosterone levels is to visit a doctor and do a blood test.

The test will show if you have normal testosterone levels and check the levels of other hormones.

If you have fewer spontaneous erections, weight loss, low libido, or other symptoms, it’s a good idea to do a simple blood test.

In case of low testosterone, the doctor will advise you on the next steps to increase natural testosterone levels.

T Boosters vs Testosterone Replacement Therapy: What Should You Choose?

In case of low testosterone production, your best bet is to visit a medical professional. They will check your total T levels and determine the best therapy.

TRT is proven to help raise low T levels, and it’s administered by a medical professional, so you know you’ll be in safe hands.

If you opt for testosterone supplements, make sure to check the ingredients and look up some reviews online.

There are many T boosters out there, but trustworthy manufacturers make the most effective ones. Check out our choice of best testosterone boosters.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6287281/

Was this article helpful?

About The Author