Can hCG help raise low testosterone levels?

Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone that primarily functions to maintain pregnancy. However, some researchers have begun investigating whether hCG could help raise low testosterone levels in males.

Research into the effects of hCG on testosterone levels is still in its early stages, and so far, the results are inconclusive. Early findings suggest that hCG treatment may cause fewer side effects than traditional testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).

This article defines hCG and discusses testosterone function and levels. It also considers the scientific research into whether hCG could increase testosterone levels and the risks and considerations involved. Finally, it outlines some alternative methods for increasing testosterone levels.

hCG is a type of hormone. Several organs produce hCG, including the pituitary gland, liver, and colon. However, the primary source of hCG is the placenta, which develops during pregnancy.

The main function of hCG is to sustain a pregnancy. During pregnancy, the placenta secretes hCG, which stimulates the corpus luteum — a temporary structure within the ovaries — to produce the hormone progesterone. Progesterone assists in the growth of the uterus during pregnancy and helps prevent uterine contractions.

Testosterone is a sex hormone. In males, the testicles are the primary source of testosterone. In females, the ovaries make testosterone in comparatively small amounts.

According to the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom, typical blood testosterone levels for males and females are as follows:

  • Males: 10–30 nanomoles per milliliter of blood (nmol/ml)
  • Females: 0.7–2.8 nmol/mL

Testosterone plays a vital role in typical sexual development in males. During male puberty, testosterone functions to:

Testosterone levels typically decrease with age. This can lead to several changes, such as:

There is some evidence that hCG treatment can increase testosterone levels.

A 2018 study investigated the effect of hCG on testosterone levels in 20 males with one or more of the following symptoms of low testosterone:

The researchers administered hCG to each of the men for around 8 months. On average, these men experienced a 49.9% increase in testosterone levels, and 50% reported an improvement in libido, energy levels, and ED symptoms.

Although the above findings are promising, the authors acknowledge several limitations of the study, including its small sample size, lack of a control group, and non-randomized structure. Further high quality randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are necessary to help determine the extent to which hCG treatment could help prevent low testosterone levels.

ace to 2021 reviews explains, hCG can work as a luteinizing hormone — a hormone that functions to induce changes in sex organs.

Scientists are still working to fully understand this process. However, hCG likely promotes testosterone production by stimulating Leydig cells in the testicles. These cells are the primary means via which the male body produces testosterone.

Like traditional TRT, hCG treatment may also carry certain risks.

However, the 2021 reviews notes that, unlike TRT, hCG treatment does not likely adversely affect fertility.

However, hCG may cause side effects. the most common is gynecomastia, a condition in which males’ breasts swell and become larger.

Research into hCG treatment is still in its early stages, and further studies are necessary to determine its safety.

One important factor that contributes to the safety of a drug is dosage. The lack of research into hCG as a treatment for low testosterone levels means there is very little evidence regarding safe and effective dosages.

Evidence suggests that 2,000 international units (IU) of hCG per week for 6 months may constitute a safe dosage. However, as previously mentioned, the study has several limitations, and high quality studies are necessary to determine safe dosages.

People looking to increase their testosterone levels may benefit from one of the alternative methods outlined below.

exercise

in to 2020 reviews of several studies, researchers measured the impact of exercise on testosterone levels. They found that certain combinations of exercise and rest can raise testosterone levels.

The greatest spike in testosterone levels occurred with moderate to high intensity resistance training involving multiple muscles or muscle groups, combined with short breaks between exercises.

However, the surge in testosterone was temporary. It was also lower in older men and those with obesity. The review authors add that there is very little evidence to suggest that such changes could last longer.

Testosterone replacement therapy

Some people may choose to supplement their natural production of testosterone with TRT. A 2016 reviews states that while TRT can increase muscle strength, it may not be very useful for addressing other symptoms of low testosterone.

According to the review, compared with placebos, testosterone therapies did not lead to significant improvements in the following health problems or complaints:

The review authors also warn that TRT can have adverse health effects. For instance, they reference an older meta-analysis from 2013which notes that males who received TRT for at least 3 months had an increased risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.

The placenta primarily produces hCG during pregnancy. Recently, some scientists have begun investigating the possibility of using hCG to treat low testosterone levels.

Early studies suggest that hCG may help increase low testosterone levels in males. However, these studies are still in their infancy and are subject to multiple limitations. Further large-scale, high quality RCTs are necessary to determine the safety and effectiveness of hCG as a treatment for low testosterone.

In the meantime, people looking to increase their testosterone levels may experience short-term benefits from moderate to high intensity resistance training. Alternatively, they can talk with their doctor about the possibility of traditional TRT.

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