Admitting you have a testosterone deficiency is an important step. But what comes next? The search for a viable solution. And once you start looking for answers, you realize the raft of potential solutions is vast. They fall into multiple categories that aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive — you can use them concurrently with a doctor’s consent.
Two options you are likely to run into are testosterone boosters and testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). Both are viable, legal responses to low testosterone but have some important differences that should inform your decision on which one to go for. I will not bore you with excessive detail so I will touch on key aspects that the average person would want to know when comparing the two.
Quick Facts Overview
Defining the Two Treatments
Testosterone boosters are a category of supplements whose primary goal is the increase of free testosterone levels in persons facing a decline of the male sex hormone. They stimulate the body’s natural production of testosterone and are usually sold in pill or powder form.
Testosterone boosters are perhaps best known for their usage by strength training enthusiasts and pro bodybuilders. It makes perfect sense — an increase in testosterone means an improvement in the things testosterone is known for including growing muscle mass and muscular strength as well as shedding excess body fat.
TRT refers to one or more prescription drugs used to correct a moderate or severe testosterone deficiency. A doctor will evaluate your symptoms then run you through multiple tests to confirm that your testosterone levels are concerning. Given this solution’s relatively aggressive path of action, healthcare professionals will only prescribe it if you do not exhibit any TRT contraindications.
Importantly, TRT is not a set of pills you pop then go on your way. Instead, the doctor will keep close tabs on your progress, regularly checking for improvements in testosterone and that the treatment does not upset the balance of other hormones.
Remember, the part I said TRT is not a pill? That’s literally true. It is administered via testosterone injections, topical gels, scrotal patches and non-scrotal patches. Why not in pill form? The possibility of liver toxicity.
The Difference in Costs
There is no price control so each testosterone booster manufacturer sets the price they deem fit. At a general level though, these supplements are made for the mass market and readily available over the counter. If you are going to sell a product to such a large audience, you must keep prices within reach of the majority of consumers in your target market.
Most testosterone boosters are thus in the range of $40 to $70 for a single bottle (that is, one month’s supply). Add to this other price-lowering perks such as free shipping, discounts on bulk orders and money back guarantees.
Any condition that requires you see a doctor will almost always cost more than a matter that can be addressed through over-the-counter drugs. If you don’t see where I am going with this, let me be clear — TRT is more expensive than a testosterone booster.
For starters, you will be using medication that is heavily regulated and must be subjected to years of testing before it's made available for consumer use. Pharmaceutical companies need to get a return from this investment. TRT will set you back anywhere from $50 to $1,500 per month depending on the brand, mode of application and your location.
As far as testosterone-enhancing solutions go, testosterone boosters take a guarded approach centered on natural ingredients. While actual formulation varies from brand to brand, expect a blend of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and herb extracts. The idea is not to include ingredients that could inadvertently upset the body’s hormone balance.
This ‘gentle’ angle of testosterone boosters is a key reason they are deemed food products by the FDA and not treated with the rigorous oversight of conventional medication. In short, testosterone boosters have little to no side effects. You still need to obtain doctor’s clearance though if you have been diagnosed with an illness that requires you take long term medication.
TRT aims to lift your testosterone levels directly as opposed to the indirect path of action testosterone boosters are designed for. It involves the introduction of synthetic testosterone, a Class III Controlled Substance.
There are substantial health risks accompanying TRT use which is why it is a prescription-only treatment. Side effects may be as mild as soreness on the patch or injection site. But they could also be as serious as sleep apnea, liver toxicity and blood clots.
Who Are They Recommended to
Testosterone boosters are the way to go if you have been diagnosed with or suspect a mild testosterone deficiency especially when it is the result of aging. They would serve as complementary to any diet changes meant to increase your blood testosterone. You may also have to go with testosterone boosters if medical reasons disqualify you from TRT.
TRT is the better option where the testosterone deficiency is deemed moderate to severe. It would also be the right approach where the root cause of testosterone decline is a medical condition.
It’s a wrap. In summary, both testosterone boosters and TRT can work. It all depends on the severity of your testosterone deficiency, the root cause and if there are any medical conditions that rule out TRT as an option. If you are not sure which is right for you, I recommend you either have a word with your doctor.