Do Over-the-Counter Testosterone Boosters Work?

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With testosterone production declining anywhere from one to two percent starting when a man is in his twenties, it is natural to search for some help to maintain healthy testosterone levels. Some people turn to over-the-counter testosterone supplements, but what are they, do they work, and are they safe? Those are the questions we answer in this report.

Key Points About OTC Testosterone

What Is OTC Testosterone?

Over-the-counter testosterone supplements are products that you can purchase at a store without a doctor’s prescription. In the case of OTC testosterone, these items do not contain any actual testosterone hormone. That is something that can only be purchased with a valid prescription.

You might find a wide range of products advertising themselves to be over-the-counter testosterone boosters. Because these items are not regulated, there is no way to know if their ingredients are safe or effective.

Studies on OTC testosterone products have yielded mixed results. Some have found significant health concerns arising from using unregulated testosterone boosters. 

Testosterone is a well-known supplemental treatment for men and women suffering from the effects and symptoms of low testosterone levels. Hormonal imbalance can create many products. Prescription testosterone comes in many forms, including:

  • Injections (best option for men)
  • Gels
  • Patches
  • Subcutaneous pellets
  • Creams (best option for women)

Oral testosterone is not advisable as it can lead to liver toxicity.

Alternate ways of increasing testosterone levels include dietary changes, exercise, sleep, stress reduction, and OTC supplements.

DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), androstenediol, and androstenedione are precursor hormones to testosterone that the body produces. Only DHEA is still available today over the counter. The other two products require a doctor’s prescription as they are regulated under the Anabolic Steroid Control Act

What Are the Claimed Effects of OTC Testosterone?

Manufacturers of over-the-counter TRT products often claim that people can expect increased muscle mass, strength, and heightened sex drive. In supplemental form, there is little evidence that they produce the benefits necessary to boost testosterone levels safely.

If you feel your body needs a testosterone boost, do not rely on any over-the-counter testosterone test to measure your hormone levels. As with any hormone supplements, you should first undergo a doctor consultation and testing of your hormone levels before starting any treatment. 

The Truth About OTC Testosterone

Most OTC testosterone boosters contain a mix of vitamins and minerals. Studies on these products are often conducted by funding through the manufacturer, leading to concerns about credibility. 

Are over-the-counter testosterone boosters safe?

Testosterone supplementation boosters are not always safe. Attempting to increase testosterone levels without doctor supervision may result in elevated testosterone readings and potentially dangerous side effects, including cardiovascular events and liver injury. The only safe way to boost testosterone levels is under doctor monitoring. 

Prescription use of androstenedione has shown a slight increase in testosterone levels but without any benefits to lean body mass or weight loss. However, those levels reverted to their low point after stopping treatment. The bigger problem is that androstenedione supplementation has been shown to decrease HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol (the good type) and increase LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol (the bad type). Cardiovascular risks also increase with oral androstenedione use. 

Some men have reported breast enlargement (gynecomastia), acne, oily skin, and aggressive feelings or behavior when using products containing Tribulus Terrestris, zinc, DHEA, and d-aspartic acid. 

Other ingredients found in OTC testosterone supplements include vitamin B6 and fenugreek extract, which, along with zinc, are the three most common components of over-the-counter testosterone boosters. A review of 50 supplements found that less than 25% had data supporting their claims to boost testosterone, build lean muscle mass, and increase sex drive. 

Of the 50 supplements reviewed, the following ingredients turned up the most, listed here with how many products featured them:

  • Zinc – 29
  • Fenugreek extract – 22
  • Vitamin B6 – 20
  • Tribulus Terrestris – 19
  • Magnesium – 17
  • Boron – 12 
  • Diindolemethane 12
  • Eurycoma longifolia extract – 12
  • Maca extract – 10
  • D-Aspartic acid – 9
  • Ashwagandha extract – 8
  • Vitamin D – 8 

While zinc has many benefits for the body, especially in people with low zinc levels, increasing it too high can lead to reduced immunity, decreased HDL cholesterol, and reduced copper levels. 

A 2017 case report cited an increased risk of bilateral pulmonary embolisms associated with OTC testosterone supplements containing fenugreek extract. 

OTC Testosterone vs. Prescription

One of the first questions people often ask is, can you buy testosterone over the counter, and the answer is no. Legitimate testosterone supplementation is by prescription only. Doctor monitoring is crucial to prevent testosterone levels from becoming too high. 

Manufacturers of over-the-counter testosterone cream, pills, powders, and other supplements often make claims not backed up by scientific studies. There are so many products on the market that the FDA cannot keep up with checking on these claims. Once an item is discovered to have false claims, it is pulled from the market. However, there are always others ready to take their place. 

The following chart highlights the most popular testosterone supplements and their positive benefits and potential side effects.

Benefits and Side Effects of Supplements

When it comes to low testosterone treatment, over-the-counter boosters are not the best option. 


If you have low testosterone levels, prescription testosterone is the best treatment. We recommend testosterone injections for men and bioidentical testosterone cream for women for safety, efficacy, and cost. Our doctors customize all treatments to your body’s unique needs, monitoring your progress to reduce the risk of side effects. 


Are there any side effects of taking testosterone boosters? 

Testosterone boosters may present potentially dangerous side effects to those who use them without doctor supervision. Increased cardiovascular, prostate cancer, and cholesterol risks are possible.

Are testosterone boosters safe?

Some testosterone boosters can be extremely dangerous to use. Reports of liver damage and other health issues can lead to significant problems.

Do testosterone boosters really work?

Research shows that most testosterone boosters purchased over the counter do not sufficiently increase testosterone levels. Prescription testosterone therapy is the best option for boosting T levels.

How can I increase my testosterone level quickly? 

The quickest ways to increase testosterone levels are through exercise, diet, sleep, and stress reduction. Prescription testosterone therapy monitored by a hormone specialist is the best option for people with low testosterone.