12 February 2022: Today I started a course of treatment with the intention of naturally boosting my low testosterone after prostate cancer. It is important because testosterone is a miracle hormone (actually for both men and women.) It helps build and maintain muscle, contributes to positive moods and of course supports libido. But over the last 4 months my testosterone level has gone way below what is normal for my age and gender.
Treating low testosterone after you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer is tricky and inherently carries some risk. This is because testosterone acts like a fertiliser for any prostate cancer cells in your body. It doesn’t apparently cause prostate cancer but if it is already there, testosterone encourages the cancer to grow faster. Hormone suppression (ADT) is a common treatment for advanced prostate cancer.
So boosting testosterone is just not an option with that type of advanced cancer. But for men like me with low testosterone and undetectable PSA after prostate cancer treatment – we have an option and face a dilemma about whether to take the risk of acting to boost testosterone.
My PSA is undetectable 2 years after prostate cancer treatment. My testosterone is in the danger zone for a normal male body of my age. I have previously had success with a herbal remedy that stimulates my body to produce more testosterone naturally. Today I decided to return to that remedy with some adjustment due to the prostate cancer risks.
Health benefits of boosting low testosterone
If your testosterone is subnormal, bringing it back up again can have beneficial effects on a wide variety of important health and quality of life factors.
“androgen supplementation in aging males with subnormal testosterone levels seems to have beneficial effects on muscle mass and strength, BMD [bone mineral density], plasma lipids and insulin sensitivity, mood, libido, and sense of wellbeing, but generally only in men with subnormal free testosterone levels.” – A. Vermeulen, 2001
However the effects only really come into play when your testosterone levels are very low, and each man has a different threshold at which low testosterone negatively affects health and quality of life.
But no benefit from boosting normal testosterone
Importantly for those of us who are concerned with retaining a fulfilling sex life after prostate cancer,
Sexual function does not change when serum testosterone levels are pharmacologically varied within the normal male range – F. Buena et al, 1993
And as we already know, if there is prostate cancer active in your body, then you don’t want to boost testosterone.*
Practical examples of boosting testosterone after prostate cancer
After prostate surgery most doctors rule out any kind of testosterone boosting interventions for at least two years. I also said no to treatment when my testosterone dipped into the danger zone last year.
I know a man with naturally very low testosterone, who was treated a few years ago for prostate cancer. He has testosterone injections every 12 weeks. He says it does wonders for his entire experience of life including but not limited to sex. However he took great care and consulted several doctors including an endocrinologist, as well as monitoring PSA closely before and after resuming the testosterone supplements.
I know others who have experimented with herbal remedies with mixed outcomes, including discontinuing the treatment because PSA began to rise. I have been tracking the continued drop in my testosterone levels now for 4 months and feel ready to take action. With some trepidation.
My choice: adjustments to the natural remedy that worked for me before
I trust my doctor and her expertise with natural remedies, homeopathy and Chinese medicine. I am not advocating this route, merely reporting my experience. If you would like to consult her (even long distance), please contact Dr Daniela Scarcella. She has created a specially formulated version of the tried and tested herbal remedy that worked so well for me ten years ago. Her special mix excludes common components of other remedies, that her research links to elevated prostate cancer risks. I am starting to take her remedy today.
My urologist supports this course of action. He says he would also be willing to prescribe the more conventional testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) if the herbal remedy doesn’t work.
Increased cancer monitoring while stimulating testosterone production
The purpose of the remedy I am taking is to stimulate my body to produce more of its own testosterone. I have no way of telling if this is really safer than injecting testosterone supplements, but it feels better to me. And of course I am concerned about increasing prostate cancer risks.
The norm for is to reduce PSA monitoring to six-monthly intervals after you have gone two years with undetectable readings. However we have agreed that I will continue 3-monthly checks because of the elevated risk associated with testosterone.
What’s next: I will report back on the impact of my treatment on all three areas: prostate cancer, general quality of life, and sexual health. I don’t recommend that you take action without careful expert consultation.
* Editor’s Notes:
- 1 Dec 2022: Thanks to a reader for pointing us to this very detailed, data driven and articulate talk by Dr Abraham Morgentaler who says that testosterone supplements can actually reduce prostate cancer risk. I encourage you to watch the video and make up your own mind.
- 2 December 2022: Following up on the video, I found this Testosterone Therapy in Men With Prostate Cancer from the European Journal of Urology which 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.” On the other hand, Testosterone Therapy in Men with Advanced Prostate Cancer: Too Many Unknowns for Safe Use urges caution if you have advanced prostate cancer.
- 6 March 2023: My urologist says that for many men whose prostate cancer is undetectable after treatment (like me), the general health risks of too-low testosterone are greater than the cancer risks of boosting testosterone.