Testosterone Supplements Vs. Testosterone Replacement Therapy

Testosterone booster capsules and syringes on a table.

Which is Better, Test Boosters or TRT?

Men everywhere are looking for ways to increase and support their testosterone levels. Testosterone boosters and supplements, TRT, gels, implants… the options are numerous.

However, what are the differences between over-the-counter products, and prescription-based products? Is one type more effective, or safer?

I will attempt to answer these questions so that you’ll have a better idea of which type of treatment may be best for you, your individual needs, and your risk tolerance.

What Is The Function of Testosterone?

Both men and women need testosterone. Although testosterone is often associated with a man’s sex drive, it is present in both sexes at birth.

Contrary to what many people think, it actually plays an important role in a woman’s libido, energy, and physical strength. It triggers sexual development in males and supports and maintains a man’s health all his life.

Testosterone levels peak in a man during early adulthood. However, the hormone still plays an important part in some key areas, including:

  • Muscle mass
  • Bone density
  • Body fat
  • Red blood cell production
  • Sexual
  • Overall physical health

Most cases of low testosterone will occur after age 30, when T-levels naturally begin to diminish. Dramatic decreases in testosterone levels can result in symptoms associated with low testosterone.

It has been estimated that 5 million American males have low enough testosterone levels to cause symptoms. Severe drops in testosterone levels are associated with the following:

  • Difficulty achieving and/or maintaining an erection
  • Increased body fat
  • Reduced muscle strength
  • Hair loss
  • Breast enlargement or tenderness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Low energy and fatigue
  • Depression

However, these types of unpleasant changes can be due to any number of reasons besides low-T, including side effects of medication, certain medical conditions, and excessive drug or alcohol use. Your symptoms may be relieved by treating the root cause. Talk to your doctor if low testosterone is a concern.

Continue reading to learn the difference between testosterone boosters and testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).

Benefits and Risks of Testosterone Boosters

Benefits of Supplements

Conventional medical testosterone replacement therapies (such as injections, implants, and gels) work to increase your body’s levels of testosterone. Testosterone boosters, to the contrary, are nutritional supplements using natural herbs and nutrients to increase your body’s production of testosterone.

Some of these supplements are simply meant to alleviate symptoms of low testosterone by increasing the amount of free testosterone already present in the body. There are several testosterone-boosting supplements that are safe for those with low T, but not all of the products available have undergone rigorous testing in humans.

Risks of Supplements

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t require approval for manufacturers of dietary supplements. Additionally, the FDA doesn’t have any authority over the safety or quality of vitamins, herbs, and health supplements. A product can be dangerous, ineffective or both, and still be for sale on the market.

This is why we provide our annual list of the top testosterone supplements. It allows you to clearly see why we chose these products, what is in them, what benefits they provide, and what the potential risks may be, if any.

Before you try any new supplement, make sure to talk with your doctor. Unintentional side effects and interactions with other medications may occur.

See Also: Are Testosterone Boosters Safe?

Benefits and Risks of Testosterone Replacement Therapy

If you’ve been diagnosed with an abnormally low T, testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) offers a lot of benefits. There are also a lot of risks.

These are the essential facts to know before you begin TRT.

Benefits of TRT

TRT can boost testosterone levels if you have low T. After TRT, you may see a decrease in body fat or a rise in muscle mass.

It can also restore your sex drive. TRT can also help you achieve and maintain healthy erections if you have low testosterone.

Testosterone replacement therapy can be administered in several ways. Each has its positives and negatives.

These include:

Testosterone Patch – These are very easy to use. However, patches may have to be used more than once per day and could cause skin rashes.

Testosterone Gel – Daily application of gel to the skin that is easy and convenient to use. However, it is important to ensure that the area treated does not come in contact with anyone for more than a few hours after application, which could expose them to the testosterone.

Buccal Patches – This type of patch is applied twice daily to your upper gum. Although these patches are convenient, they can cause irritation or lead to gum disease.

Injection – Testosterone injections can be given every 2-10 weeks. They are less expensive than other treatments. However, injections might not offer consistent benefits, as your testosterone levels will drop between doses.

Subcutaneous implants – Testosterone pellets that are placed under the skin. These are very convenient after they’ve been inserted, but each dose basically requires minor surgery.

Risks of TRT

Some men can experience side effects from testosterone treatment immediately. Symptoms include acne, sleep disturbances, breast tenderness or swelling, and swelling of the ankles. There is also an increased risk of clotting due to high red blood cell production.

Long-term testosterone therapy use may increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular conditions.(1) In fact, one study in 2010 involving testosterone therapy in older men had to be cut short after early results revealed that testosterone replacement therapy was leading to noticeably more heart problems in the men who received TRT.(2)

In older men, it appears that the cardiac side effects become more immediate.

A number of doctors are also concerned that testosterone therapy may trigger the growth and spread of prostate cancer cells, although the evidence is mixed.(3) However, because prostate cancer is so common, doctors are cautious about prescribing testosterone for men at high risk.

Patients undergoing testosterone replacement should immediately call 911 if they experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Chest pains
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Slurring of speech
  • Weakness on one side of the body (4)

For some men with low levels of testosterone, the benefits of hormone replacement therapy are worth the potential risks. For most men, it is a decision that you and your doctor will need to make together.

Although TRT can quickly reverse many of the symptoms of low-T, this quick fix can distract you from the long-term risks. When considering testosterone therapy, or any other therapies, be aware of the risks.

Which is Better?

In my opinion, if you are experiencing symptoms of low testosterone your safest bet would be to go with a natural testosterone booster first. As long as they are from a reputable brand, they are not only less expensive than TRT, but they are far, far safer to use.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to take a look at our list of the most effective testosterone boosters. All of the products reviewed there have shown to be safe and effective, and will cause no side effects in most individuals.

Receiving testosterone replacement may provide quicker and stronger results at the beginning, but the potential dangers involved will not be worth the risk for most men. Only if you’ve tried natural testosterone boosters with no success should TRT be given serious consideration.


Many treatments for low T are promising, both prescription and OTC, but they can be risky. Most men should try using natural testosterone supplements that have been vetted and proven safe and effective before considering TRT.

That said, always talk to your doctor about treatment options if you think you may have low testosterone. He or she can help you decide which treatment options are best for you and your situation.


  1. https://www.fda.gov/media/88140/download
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3440621/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4544840/
  4. https://www.webmd.com/men/replacement-therapy
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