Testosterone Boosters vs TRT Supplements (Pros & Cons List)

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: March 11, 2024
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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) clinics. 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

  • To address low testosterone, men can choose between testosterone boosters, which are over-the-counter supplements, and testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), a medical treatment managed by healthcare professionals.
  • Testosterone boosters are generally more accessible and affordable, while TRT, being FDA-approved, offers more regulated and potentially effective treatment for low testosterone levels.
  • Men with low T levels using testosterone-boosting supplements noticed an increase in their testosterone levels.
  • In my experience, while testosterone boosters are convenient, consulting a medical professional for TRT ensures safer and more reliable management of low testosterone symptoms.

Testosterone Boosters

stack of pills

Testosterone boosters differ from TRT in a few ways, with the most notable factor being that T-boosters are over the counter dietary supplements made with natural ingredients and don't contain actual testosterone.

Composition and Claims

From my own journey with testosterone boosters, I've found they're chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. They don't contain actual testosterone, but they sure helped me kick my body's T levels up a notch.

Unlike TRT, they're not FDA-regulated, so it's crucial to pick reputable brands and check ingredients and reviews.

Many users report enhanced libido and energy from these supplements.

Efficacy and Usage

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 by the National Institute of Health (NIH) done on 788 males with low T levels concluded that testosterone-boosting supplements showed improvements in T levels [1].

Related: TRT Before And After Analysis Based On Real-Life Experiences

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 (TRT), FDA-approved and managed by medical pros, uses bio-identical testosterone for treatment.

Top online TRT clinics guide you through it. Under your doctor's watch, TRT tackles low T symptoms, often showing quick results.

It's effective for erectile dysfunction, anxiety, and mood issues, with various forms available.

Joshua Host from Thrive Lab emphasizes TRT's life-enhancing potential under expert supervision.

Your doctor picks the right TRT for you, generally yielding better results than T booster supplements.

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

When I explored TRT, I learned it's usually covered by medical insurance.

For those without insurance, like me at one point, the out-of-pocket cost can be a factor. I found that prescription testosterone injections, costing around $100 each, were the most wallet-friendly option.

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 They Interact with Other Medications

Testosterone boosters and testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) can interact with common medications, potentially affecting health outcomes.

  • Certain medications, like corticosteroids and opioids, may suppress testosterone production, complicating TRT effectiveness.
  • Conversely, some medications, such as blood thinners, can interact with testosterone boosters, leading to adverse effects or reduced efficacy.

If you are considering testosterone interventions, you should consult healthcare professionals, ensuring a thorough understanding of potential interactions and personalized treatment plans.

How to Check if You Have Low T Levels?

vials of blood samples

To check for low testosterone, see a doctor for a blood test.

It'll reveal your testosterone and other hormone levels. If you're experiencing fewer spontaneous erections, weight loss, or low libido, this test is a smart move.

Should levels be low, your doctor will guide you on boosting them naturally.

FAQs

Do Testosterone Boosters Actually Increase Testosterone?

Yes, testosterone booster actually increase testosterone levels.

How Fast Do Testosterone Boosters Work?

Testosterone boosters may take longer to work. However, improvements on sexual interest begin after three weeks and plateau at six weeks, with no additional increases predicted beyond that. Erection/ejaculation changes might take up to six months. The impacts on quality of life are noticeable after 3-4 weeks, although the full benefits take longer.

Do Testosterone Gels Work?

Testosterone gels, also known as topical testosterone replacement therapies, work in raising testosterone levels in some individuals, especially those with clinically diagnosed low testosterone (hypogonadism). These gels typically contain synthetic testosterone that is absorbed through the skin.

Do Over-the-counter Testosterone Boosters Work?

Over-the-counter testosterone boosters work. Many contain natural ingredients like herbs and minerals, which might have some impact on hormone levels, but scientific evidence supporting their efficacy is limited. Some may offer modest benefits, particularly in individuals with nutrient deficiencies, but they are unlikely to have significant effects on testosterone levels for most people.


References:

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

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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