Using Testosterone Is like Taking a Male Contraceptive!
That’s right – your sperm counts will plummet to near zero levels in as little as 8 weeks of testosterone use…making it a great male contraceptive but a really bad choice if you’re trying to conceive. The same holds true for anabolic steroids.
Here is how it works: The pituitary gland near the brain controls testosterone production in the testicles (your sperm factory) by secreting 2 hormones (FSH and LH) into the blood stream. Testicular levels of testosterone must be very high for optimal sperm production – up to 100X the level seen in the blood! When a man uses testosterone, it turns off the pituitary secretion of FSH and LH and the testicular production of testosterone. The result – the sperm factory comes to a grinding halt.
Even after stopping testosterone, it may take up to 1 year before sperm production fully recovers, and for some men, sperm production never returns essentially making them sterile.
No wonder the World Health Organization studied testosterone as a male contraceptive!
Over the past 5 years there has been an increase in testosterone prescriptions by 170%. There are good reasons for using testosterone – some men truly have low blood levels and feel depressed or lack libido. However, most men using testosterone for “male rejuvenation” have normal levels of testosterone and thus may not derive any benefit from testosterone use.
Regardless of a man’s motivation to use testosterone, he should know that it will wipe out his sperm in the short-term and possibly lead to infertility or sterility in the long term. Unfortunately many doctors who prescribe testosterone are not informing their patients of this risk. Even urologists, specialists in men’s reproductive organs who should know better, are prescribing testosterone for infertility. In a 2012 study by Ko et al., 25% of urologists surveyed stated they prescribed testosterone for infertility. The rate is likely higher among primary doctors and other medical specialists.
Best advice – if you plan to use testosterone (or closely related anabolic steroids), you should freeze several semen samples as a back-up
If you are already using testosterone (or anabolic steroids), get a semen analysis and consult your physician on how to taper off treatment. Certain medications like clomiphene citrate or hCG can help recover testicular testosterone production.