Testosterone is the male hormone and is associated with many of the things we consider to be male or masculine traits such as sex drive, ambition and strength. An abundance of testosterone then will lead to a deepening of the voice, feelings of power, increased musculature, weight loss, hair and libido. As such, most men want to increase the amount of testosterone in their body anyway they can – particularly bodybuilders and older men who are struggling with their libido. This is what most anabolic steroids aim to do in fact, and are a form of ‘synthetic’ testosterone. However these are dangerous and illegal meaning that they are certainly not suitable for casual use.
As a result there are many tablets out there for men that aim to restore and increase levels of testosterone in the body in a healthier way. These tend to include such ingredients as 6-OXO, tribulus terrestris, ZMA and other herbal products. The idea of these then is to raise the body’s natural levels of testosterone and encourage it to produce more testosterone on its own.
Unfortunately these tablets have mixed results and opinions differ on their effectiveness. At the same time, people tend to be weary of taking lots of tablets. Thus ‘testosterone cream’ was invented which uses a different delivery system (transdermal – meaning through skin) giving it faster access to the blood stream (for immediate results) and varied ingredients.
But testosterone is not only found in men, and many women too find that they could benefit from some of the advantages of extra male hormone. For example many women struggle with libido which can put a strain on a relationship if they never want to sleep with their partner. Similarly it can be used to improve a woman’s physique and to burn fat and has even be recommended as an antidepressant.
These creams can have immediate effect, be taken throughout the day, or be taken with a ‘time release’ for delayed results. As a general rule these are administered in the same way – by applying to the thick skinned and hairless areas of the body such as the backs of the knees and elbows and around the neck. Most of these will recommend usage around two to three times daily for three weeks with a fourth week off (this is called cycling) and/or application about half an hour before sex.
So the real question is does it work? And the real answer unfortunately is: not much. There are several reasons for this. Obviously it will depend on the exact testosterone cream being used as there is no universal list of ingredients. You should make sure before you make any purchase that you look for a list of ingredients online. If they are hard to find then already you know this is a bad sign but do not buy anything unless you know the ingredients – especially if you are buying online. If you are buying from a health store meanwhile, still make sure to quiz the assistant on what precisely the active ingredients are and why and how they work.
A lot of testosterone creams look very promising from their list of ingredients. Some claim to be made up of testosterone and somatropin AKA somatrophin AKA HGH. Firstly, HGH (human growth hormone) is not anything to do with testosterone, it is to do with growth hormone. It just so happens to have many of the same effects but is likely there just for show. Interestingly libido is not going to be one of those effects either. The bigger problem though is that both these products are illegal and HGH is considered unsafe alongside steroids. So how is it in the cream? The simple answer is that it is not. How do pharmaceutical companies get around this problem? By making it ‘homeopathic’.
For those who still are not in the know, ‘homeopathy’ is a type of medicine that does not actually include any ingredients. Rather the ingredients have been put in and then taken out (every last molecule) with the hope that the liquid will retain their ‘vital force’. This is still recommended by doctors and used by health services despite having absolutely no scientific backing. It is in short, a scam, and simply will not work apart from as a placebo. The same goes for the testosterone which you simply will not be able to take directly unless you bought it on the black market (and it probably still wouldn’t have any effect). You will find these first two ingredients listed as the ‘active’ ingredients with the others separate. The reason for this is that they would otherwise have to be listed last, behind water and everything else.
So that is not a great start, and anything that lists these two ingredients or says ‘homeopathy’ should be avoided as you are not getting what you are paying for. Not all of these creams work that way however, and many focus on the same ingredients as the orally administered tablets which actually do work.
Ingredients such as ZMA, 6-OXO and tribulus terrestris have all been shown to help increase the amount of testosterone in your body. Others work the other way around by decreasing the amount of female hormone – both oestrogen and progesterone. These include ingredients such as 6-Bromodione. Look for a product that has these or some of these and you are on to something that might just have an effect. Some will also lower prolactin (another female hormone) and some also include other aphrodisiacs that vary in their scientific nature.
The problem is that this effect is mild. At the same time it is unsure whether the delivery method is effective meaning that you are probably better off sticking to pills. Finally these products will not work ‘immediately’ but will take time to have any effect. As such they are far more suited to anti-depression and muscle building than they are to increasing libido, though you might find that this increases gradually over time as well. All these effects would be more pronounced however by taking an oral supplement aimed at bodybuilders.
The other bad news is that these ingredients will also cause other side effects associated with masculinity which really are not great for women. The most pronounced of these is acne, and a short course in tribulus terrestris can easily cause an outbreak of spots and oily skin (part of the reason that teenagers have so many spots is that they produce extra testosterone to trigger the transformation into full grown men). Other less common but still as unpleasant effects include increased hair growth – including around the face, and a deepening of the voice. It could also cause unpredictable changes to the menstrual cycle. In other words, for the poor women who do find that they are finally horny enough to want sex, they’ll have become too hairy and spotty to find any…
If you lack libido it could be a complex combination of your psychology and the very cautious balance of hormones (which are linked in fact to your psychology). If you find it is accompanied by tiredness and depression then you should look into a non-medical solution. See your doctor and if they advise a prescription ask what’s in it first and whether the ingredients are homeopathic.