Several months ago, after feeling like **** for years, I finally went to the doctor and got some bloodwork done. Turns out I have low testosterone. I got a prescription for Androgel and after using it for a few weeks I felt great. The problem is, I ran out a while ago and I just can't afford to go to the doctor again, let alone get my prescription refilled. I have looked online and found that the shots are much cheaper, but I still have the problem of going to the doctor and paying for bloodwork again. I just can't do it in my financial situation.
So lately I've been wondering about maybe trying some supplements. I know tribulus is said to have some effect, but I don't know to what degree or how much of what brand I should take or really anything at all about supplements.
I searched, but I only found this thread on tribulus and it didn't offer much help, and the other supplement threads are just too massive to read through all of them. Sorry if it's been done to death.
Anyway, do you guys think this is a viable option to help boost my testosterone (I know it won't get it to the levels the androgel did, but any bit helps), and is there anything else that I could or should be taking that would provide some degree of usefulness?
Hi...a few questions then an opinion:
Originally Posted by SpringHeeledJack
1) What were your pre-Androgel levels (total testosterone)?
2) What were you post-Androgel levels?
3) Where your estradiol levels...where they abnormally high?
4) How old are you?
5) What medications are you currently on?
6) Pre-Androgel did you have low FREE (not total) testosterone?
My understanding (albeit limited understanding) is that Androgel yields minor increases in total testorone vs. an injectable like testosterone cypionate or enanthanate, even at moderate doses.
Regarding tribulus or other herbs, while it is possible that tribulus will help, it's pretty much universally accepted (and for good reason) that nothing does testerone increasing better than actually increasing testosterone (through either injections or patches). The fact that you used Androgel already without PCT (post cycle therapy) may already put you in a WORSE spot than pre-Androgel...not trying to be alarmist, but please understand when you bring exogenous testosterone into the equation, the body responds by slowing down production of endogenous testosterone.
I would seriously encourage you to figure out a way to get back to the doc first and foremost. That bloodwork is absolutely critical to figure out the specific reason of your deficiency. High estradiol, for example can intefere with your testosterone levels (both total and free) badly. What I'm saying is that a percentage of time, the low total testerone is merely a SYMPTOM of a larger problem...and that "larger problem" is elevated estrogen levels. Truth be told, some guys swear that Androgel's effect is so mild that it doesn't merit PCT, but that remains to be seen.
Read this please:
"The estrogen/androgen imbalance may result from an
increase in free estrogens through direct secretion from the
testes or adrenal glands, extraglandular aromatization of
estrogen precursors, displacement of more estrogen than
androgen from the blood transport protein, sex hormone binding
globulin (SHBG), by certain drugs such as
spironolactone or ketoconazole, decreased or altered
metabolism of estrogens, or through the administration or
exposure to exogenous estrogen or estrogen-like drugs."
Without really understanding the cause of your low testosterone it's difficult to recommend Tribulus, and the reason why I say that is because of Tribulus' mode of action. The working theory on Tribulus is that it works by stimulating luteinizing hormone, which in turn signals the testicles to release testerone. Sounds great in theory, but LH also can cause an elevation in estrogen in men, and if I'm reading the article below correctly, a spike in SHBG (sex hormone-binding globulin ). SHBG smokes FREE testerone...essentially binding a portion of your total testerone and making it impotent (pun not intended). Check it out (important things in red):
"Basal and LHRH- stimulated LH levels and testosterone rose progressively during the first 6 weeks and reached a plateau thereafter, while estradiol levels continued to increase somewhat. The LH pulse amplitude and frequency had increased after 6 weeks (3.1 +/- 0.6 vs. 4.5 +/- 1.2 U/L and 4.4 +/- 2.4 vs. 6.6 +/- 1.1 pulses/7 h, respectively). Basal FSH levels were not affected while LHRH-stimulated FSH levels progressively decreased from 2 to 6 weeks, after which they did not change. Along with the rise of estradiol levels an increase of sex hormone-binding globulin and PRL levels occurred."
That being the case, I would not recommend Tribulus as your first course of action if you insist on doing this without and endocrinologist and without bloodwork...I gotta be completely blunt...THIS IS A VERY BAD IDEA.
That being the case, the one "testerone boosting supplement" that I would recommend to a guy who's either on full-time HRT or post steroid cycle is Designer Supplements ActivaTe Xtreme. It does not work by the same mechanism as Tribulus which increases total testerone, rather it decreases the amount of SHBG which in turns increases the amount of FREE (useable) testosterone in the body. In other words, it makes the most of what you already got. Plus, it has a few things in it that are anti-estrogens that seem to be effective (according to bloodwork of those who participated in the trials). I know I've recommended this 1000 times, but it just seems to be a much better solution than Tribulus by itself, especially where estrogen could come into play.
Bottom line is, low testosterone is nothing to **** with...you really need to get back to the endo. That being the case I really wouldn't recommend Tribulus.
Oh last but not least...if you (or anyone who has low test) are using or doing the following drugs, then don't be surprised if you have low testosterone...the things below can raise estrogen up quickly and mercilessly:
Finasteride (Propecia...if you're taking Proscar for prostate problems, carry on)
Alcohol (excess drinking)
Marijuana (excess smoking)
Advil and Tylenol (in excess)
Besides the above, remember that any drug that hits the liver hard can make it difficult for the body to remove excess estrogens.
A good article on healthy estrogen reduction here:
Please don't think that the above "anti-estrogen" rant is just an excuse to go taking Nolvadex or Arimidex...that's another can of worms that can have distasterous consequences if you take those drugs for two long. On a positive note for estrogen...if a guy's estrogen is TOO low, he will be impotent. If it's too high, same thing. There has to be a proper balance...and only the bloodwork can tell you what that is.
EDIT: Bottom line...Tribulus *may* work wonders for you. It definitely has some type of effect and many can attest to the increase in libido from using it. However, and increase in libido does NOT inherently mean an increase in free or total testosterone! Ultimately, if you need HRT, then you should get HRT. If you still insist on the herbal way, I personally would recommend ActivaTe Xtreme.
Also, regardless of what you do, I would recommend reading the above article on estrogen management and consider the points within, as well as the medications and lifestyle choices previously listed.
Last edited by HongKongFukYu; 1/06/2008 9:48pm at .
if you can't afford the doctor, you can't afford supplements.
if you can afford the supplements, you can afford the doctor.
if you're concerned enough to try and muck about with your hormonal balance in the dark, save up and get the professional's advice again.
Wow. Thanks for the detailed response. Unfortunately, I'm not even moderatately prepared to answer your questions. Here's all I can tell you (it's not much at all):
Originally Posted by HongKongFukYu
1. I have no idea
2. I never went back. Afetr I got the bill for the initial labwork, i was broke and couldn't afford it.
3. Again, I have no idea.
4. Finally, one I can answer. 28
5. I take Zantac sporadically. I was prescribed, all at some point in the past, vytorin, zoloft, lexapro, and nexium. It's probably been two years since I've taken any of these.
I'll be honest here, though I really don't want to. I used to be a sometimes heavy drug user. Mostly stimulants. I have been clean for maybe a year now though, so I doubt that would have any effect.
6. I don't know
All I know is the first time I got it tested, my GP sent me to Labcorp, and they did a very basic workup, in the interest of price. When I went back to my GP, she told me that my testosterone levels were alarmingly low. I was referred to an endocrinologist where I had more extensive testing performed. She told me my levels were in the normal range, but barely. So I guess it was low/normal. She went on to say that everything else in my bloodwork looked fine, and she had no idea why my levels were low, so she prescribed the Androgel to bring them up. I don't really know any more specifics. I think I was only using like 2.5 g per day of the Androgel though, so maybe it wasn't nearly as low as my GP initially thought.
I feel like **** for asking a question and then not being able to provide essential information relating to it. All this has shown me how irresponsibly I've handled this whole situation. My apologies.
Don't believe I haven't had the same thought. Tribulus is cheap though. Each endocrinologist visit cost me somewhere between $100 and $200, the bloodwork was around $1000, and and a two month supply of Androgel was something like $300. I could buy a fucking truckload of tribulus for that. I get your point though.
Originally Posted by pauli
Asking for medical advice online is risky at the least, down right stupid at the most.
That being said, asking questions like these DO give you a better idea of what you are looking at, and most importantly, they give you the proper questions to be asking your doctor.
Now you know what to ask. Go back to the doc, with a list of things you want to know this time.
Indeed I never had any intention of basing decisions regarding my health solely on the advice of (mostly) anonymous internet strangers. I've just seen that several people know a lot about this stuff and wanted their input.
Originally Posted by elipson
Bingo. The info that I posted in this post and in previous posts about HRT or anabolic steroids is to get the OP thinking in the right way, and what questions you should be asking your endo and/or doc. The bottom line is that *YOU* are fully responsible for your own health...taking even a doctors advice without researching it (especially considering the pill pushing mentality of 90% of allopathic doctors nowadays) is doing yourself a huge disservice, and you'd be suprised at how many doctors (not endos to be fair) don't know **** about training, health, etc. Western medicine is largely taught to deal with symptoms, not root cause. Not much time is spent on preventative medicine in Western medicine. That being said:
Originally Posted by elipson
Learn to LOVE reading your bloodwork and knowing what the optimal levels of the following should be:
Originally Posted by SpringHeeledJack
1) Total testosterone
2) Free testosterone
While everyone should not be a "do it yourself endocrinologist", every male should take charge of his own goddamn health and be educated in the process.
Thanks for the honest response, I'm going to get to the amphetamines in a minute. Read everything I wrote, twice if you have to. This is NOT an anti-drug rant...my intent is to increase your awareness of what's going on in your body and the relationship to the drugs you're taking/have taken.
Originally Posted by SpringHeeledJack
Lexapro and Zoloft can REALLY **** with your hormone levels and it's difficult to say how far out the (negative) effects last. This is yet another classic example that a doctor who is pushing these drugs will not tell you. Oh and for those (and you know who you are) who are under the illusion that a huge amount of testing and diagnosis of brain chemicals happens long before prescribing these EXTREMELY powerful drugs, please **** yourself. Twice. Drugs like the aforementioned are a classic example of symptom based medicine...doctors do not mention A-N-Y "brain chemicals" prior to the prescription of these drugs and rarely warn the patient of the short and long term effects.
What also tweaks me to no end is the fact that MANY MANY MANY doctors DO NOT address basic stress reduction techniques and sleep deprivation, which is a HUGE source of depression and anxiety as the FIRST course of action. To those who know a doctor who has prescribed these as a last resort, fantastic. I personally have not used these drugs, but I know tons who have and the amount of doctors who push psychotropics like candy is absolutely astounding to me.
To the OP, my hostility is not directed at you, but toward the mass of people who follow "doctors orders" without exercising ANY critical thought whatsoever. This topic is very sensitive to me and I'm not talking out of my ass, I'm speaking from a place of experience and disgust (and no I personally haven't ever, nor will I ever take such drugs, again please don't take offense if you do/have).
Before I forget...there's another hormone that's evil when it comes to low testosterone levels...Cortisol.
Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Excess stress causes excess cortisol, which can have a negative effect on circulating testosterone.
At the expense of stating the seemingly obvious, if you are at all concerned about your testerone (as every male on this board should be) you should:
1) Reduce stress (easier said than done, but make it happen)
2) Don't over train (both cardio and weights)
3) Get AT LEAST 7 hours of sleep (8 is better)
Not surprisingly amphetmines JACK up cortisol to very, very high levels. Based on that they are an easy suspect in low testerone. The cranking up of cortisol may be just one of many ways that amphetamines lower testosterone. **** it, even if that's the only way, it's a very probable cause.
At the risk of stating the obvious if you are occasionally taking them, stop.
Also, if you are taking cortisone, be aware that cortisone is basically synthetic cortisol. I'm not saying STOP taking cortisone if your doc prescribed...I'm simply saying be aware of it's effects.
No worries. 95% of guys don't know **** about this topic anyway, but they should. What I've seen is that they fall into two camps:
Originally Posted by SpringHeeledJack
1) Follow "Doctor's orders" with ZERO critical thought
2) Try to "do it yourself"
Both approaches suck. I vote for approach 3:
1) Learn EVERYTHING you can about your own health. EVERYTHING.
BECOME AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN YOUR OWN HEALTH. Question "doctors orders", offer opinions etc. While you will not have the breadth of training that an endo and/or doc will have, you can learn about your health, how to read blood hormone profiles, what optimal hormone levels are etc. Work WITH your doctor, not against. If your doc sucks, find another one. I did.
Where do you live?
If you are young medical insurance through an independent insurance salesman can be pretty cheap.
I haven't read the above posts, but try suggesting that your doctor prescribe you a gonadotropin. This will cause your body to secrete more test, rather than adding it to your system directly.