The problems caused by abnormally low testosterone – a condition called hypogonadism – have been getting a lot of press in recent years, primarily because there are now several companies selling testosterone replacement products. Low testosterone, or “Low T,” can certainly be a real problem for men. The issue with trying to correct low testosterone levels by adding extra testosterone is that the body responds by shutting down its own testosterone-making machinery. That means the testicles shrink and soften and, if you stop taking the replacement therapy, your testosterone levels will drop even lower than they were before you started. It’s easy to get hooked, in other words.
Another approach for treating low testosteroneis to stimulate the body’s own capacity to make testosterone – to fortify the testicles. Clomiphene citrate, marketed in pill form as Clomid or Serophene, is a prescription medicine commonly used for female infertility. It works by stimulating a part of the brain (the pituitary gland) that controls production of two hormones key to reproductive health: follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). Both hormones are also vital to men. FSH stimulates sperm production in the testicles, and LH stimulates testosterone production.
A number of studies have now conclusively demonstrated that modest doses of clomiphene successfully raises testosterone levels in men without impairing testicular function. Not only is testosterone boosted, sperm production and sperm quality may be enhanced as well.
I believe using clomiphene is an excellent way to raise the body’s testosterone levels – particularly in men using it to treat infertility. Other drugs similar to clomiphene are being developed that may provide similar benefits with, perhaps, lower risks (though clomiphene is, relatively speaking, a very safe drug). Future research may provide a new generation of medications to safely and effectively increase testosterone levels without the need for direct testosterone replacement therapy.
A word of caution: clomiphene should only be used under a doctor’s supervision, and it should only be used by men who have documented hypogonadism. Like any medicine, clomiphene can be abused, and if not used correctly in appropriate patients, it may do more harm than good.