23 July 2022, Victoria BC: My testosterone is back in the normal range. My PSA is still undetectable. And I am celebrating the benefits of a (modest) boost in testosterone. Today I ran my fastest 5 km since 2014! (26 minutes and 15 seconds at Clover Point parkrun on Vancouver Island.)
Over the last 9 months I have been through a significant dip in testosterone. I really felt the impact on my physical fitness but was afraid to attempt hormone boosting due to my prostate cancer history. Now a very successful herbal remedy has helped my body build up normal testosterone levels again. So far my cancer remains at bay.
Last time I wrote about this, I was just starting the herbal remedy and I promised to report back on prostate cancer, general quality of life, and sexual health. Here’s what I have experienced and what I am learning.
Feeling way better with just enough testosterone
Today’s parkrun confirmed a trend I have been feeling for several months, as my testosterone came back. Back in March – only 24 days after beginning the herbal remedy – I wrote this in my journal:
Ran 5 km close to 29 minutes and felt like I was flying at times, even able to run up steep hills. And Sunday we made orgasmic penetrative love with no artificial aids. I am sure my testosterone is coming back
This sense of a literal and figurative renewed spring in my step is now a clear indicator to me of my health and hormone levels. It was confirmed by my April PSA and testosterone blood test: PSA remained undetectable and testosterone was sharply higher (from 8.3 to 10.5 nmol/l, see graph below for more). I have also found that my vigorous daily exercises routines are translating much more directly into improved fitness, thanks to the magical workings of testosterone.
What I got from academic research literature was that each person has a threshold below which they begin to lose muscle mass, joie de vivre and sexual function due to low testosterone. I now know that when my testosterone level dips below 10 nmol/l (in US units, 288 ng/dL) I feel the negative impact on my mood, fitness, muscle mass and sexual function. With low testosterone, I can exercise but don’t really get any fitter.
No need to boost testosterone above a modest threshold
My running speed this morning shows the benefits of a modest boost back to normal testosterone levels, combined with regular exercise. But for anybody tempted to push their hormone levels even higher, you will likely be wrong if you think “more is better.” The research suggests there is little or no impact on mood, fitness or sexual function once you clear your own personal healthy testosterone threshold level. That varies from individual to individual with typical male threshold levels between 8 and 11 nmol/l (from 230 and to 350 ng/dL in US units). For women the threshold level is around 0.5 nmol/l (15 ng/dL in US units).
There is no need to tempt providence by pumping your body up to a young man’s level of testosterone! For more on the research see sexual function does not change when serum testosterone levels are pharmacologically varied within the normal male range.
Link between testosterone and prostate cancer not so simple
When my testosterone dropped so low last October I was afraid to take any action to boost it. What rang in my ears is that testosterone is like fertiliser for prostate cancer – not starting it but helping it grow. However after posting my previous testosterone story on this blog, readers clued me into some pretty solid research challenging this simple link.
The challenge is articulated most clearly by Dr Abraham Morgentaler in this 2019 video explaining why it can be OK to supplement testosterone without boosting prostate cancer risk. His 2016 paper Testosterone Therapy in Men With Prostate Cancer from the European Journal of Urology concludes “In this systematic review, we show that the use of testosterone therapy does not increase the risk of developing prostate cancer nor worsen its severity if previously diagnosed.”
I am one of the relatively lucky ones whose prostate cancer was localised and has so far responded well to treatment. For those with more advanced prostate cancer (spreading beyond the prostate), the scenario is more complex. Morgentaler and his team acknowledge the effectiveness of total deprivation of testosterone through Androgen Deprivation Treatment (ADT) as a way of throttling the growth of advanced prostate cancer.
Please note that Testosterone Therapy in Men with Advanced Prostate Cancer: Too Many Unknowns for Safe Use urges caution if you have advanced prostate cancer.
For now I am continuing my modest herbal hormone boosting treatment and enjoying my increased fitness. In consultation with my doctor I’m steadily reducing the dose as my testosterone levels recover. I also continue to test my PSA levels every 3 months, rather than the usual 6-monthly checks in Year 3. And I am deeply glad the cancer remains undetectable.
Impact of testosterone on sexual possibilities
My sexual function has continued to improve during Year 3, but my return to normal testosterone levels hasn’t made me into a raging bull in the bedroom. I still experience a slightly milder form of erectile dysfunction, with natural erections sometimes appearing but often not lasting long, nor reliably manifesting at the right time for sexual intimacy.
Where I feel the benefit of returning testosterone the most is in my broader libido, in the sense of love of life. Here’s what I wrote in my journal a month ago:
There’s that feeling of sexual and other potential that is quite delightful. Yesterday I felt that way all day long without manifesting any sexual behaviour. My skin felt slightly tight and strumming. In particular my erogenous zones felt more than usually conscious of their potential. This wasn’t about erections but just slightly swelling and suggesting possibilities. It was as if there was a crackling energy field throughout my body and extending about a centimetre beyond the surface of my skin.
Where I got the herbal remedy for a modest testosterone boost
Dr Daniela Scarcella has been a mainstay of my good health for more than fifteen years, and successfully treated my previous bout of low testosterone in 2011. Here are the graphs showing the impact of her treatments on my testosterone levels:
Dr Scarcella is qualified as a homeopath, in Chinese medicine and acupuncture amongst other methods, and she integrates her work seamlessly with Western allopathic medicine. She is also qualified by experience as a cancer survivor herself. What she gave me so successfully this year is a special formulation of her own, avoiding some standard components that have been specifically linked to prostate cancer risks.
I don’t have technical details of the makeup of the remedy, but she is available to consult with any readers locally and globally.