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How Long Does Testosterone Stay In Your System?

Testosterone is classified as an androgenic steroid hormone that is secreted primarily by the testicles in males, and to a modest extent in females via the ovaries.  Testosterone is considered the defining sex hormone of males and is responsible for promoting reproductive tissue development (testis and prostate), along with sex-specific features such as: body hair, bone mass, and muscle development.  Sufficient levels of testosterone are known to prevent osteoporosis, optimize cognitive function, and enhance mood.

Among adult males, testosterone also aids in sperm development, modulates HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) activity, increases physical energy, and maintains muscle mass.  Due to testosterone’s cascade of neurophysiologic effects in men, suboptimal levels may lead to deleterious health effects.  To avoid the unwanted implications associated with low testosterone, many men partake in testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).

For individuals with truly insufficient testosterone production, testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) can increase levels within a normative range and improve health.  However, in other cases, administration of exogenous testosterone may be conducted for athletic doping, bodybuilding, etc. – and may trigger adverse reactions.  To avoid failing a drug test and/or to avoid the adverse effects associated with exogenous testosterone administration, many individuals discontinue usage but wonder how long it remains in their system after their last dose.

How long does Testosterone stay in your system?

Assuming you’ve completely discontinued exogenous testosterone administration, you may gradually notice the emergence of testosterone withdrawal symptoms.  These symptoms are typically a result of your body reverting back to homeostatic functioning without the exogenous testosterone boost that it had been receiving.  In any regard, it is relatively difficult to pinpoint specifically how long the exogenous testosterone is likely to stay in your system without knowing the specific testosterone ester that was administered, route of administration, and concentrations of sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG).

Most individuals on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) and/or using testosterone for the purposes of athletic doping will administer esters such as: testosterone propionate, testosterone enanthate, and testosterone cypionate.  The most common route of administration is intramuscular (IM), meaning it is injected into muscle tissue.  The below estimations of elimination times are therefore based on the speculation that the user had administered testosterone esters intramuscularly.

Testosterone propionate: Though the pharmacokinetics of testosterone propionate aren’t well elucidated, its elimination half-life is estimated between 2 and 3 days following intramuscular administration.  This indicates that complete elimination of exogenous testosterone (propionate) will likely take between 11 days and 16.5 days after your final dose.  Compared to enanthate and cypionate, testosterone propionate is eliminated in a short-duration (within just 2 to 3 weeks).

Testosterone enanthate: Literature suggests that the approximate elimination half-life of testosterone enanthate when administered intramuscularly is 4 days.  With this information, we can estimate that it’ll take a person an average of 22 days (3.14 weeks) to clear testosterone enanthate from systemic circulation.  While testosterone enanthate stays in a person’s system for longer than propionate esters, it is eliminated nearly 2-fold quicker than cypionate formats.

Testosterone cypionate: Reports document that the plasma elimination half-life of testosterone cypionate after intramuscular injection is around 8 days.  This means that it’ll take slightly over a week to eliminate 50% of the exogenous testosterone from your system.  Knowing this, we can estimate that it’ll take around 44 days (6.29 weeks) to have fully eliminated exogenous testosterone cypionate from your system.  Testosterone cypionate is known to stay in a user’s system for a considerably longer duration than enanthate and propionate esters.

  • Source: https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/testosterone
  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18225458
  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2333732

Variables that influence how long Testosterone stays in your system

The specific type of testosterone ester that you administer (propionate, enanthate, cypionate, etc.) will affect how long it stays in your system after stopping.  However, the average elimination half-lives of these agents may also differ based on other variables such as: the individual taking testosterone, frequency/term of administration, dosage, and route of administration.  Therefore when contemplating how long testosterone is likely to stay in your system, it may be beneficial to account for these variables.

  1. Individual factors

Two individuals could simultaneously administer an intramuscular injection of testosterone cypionate, yet one individual will likely eliminate it sooner from his system than the other.  Though the elimination times may differ significantly, they will likely differ based on a variety of interindividual factors.  These factors include things like a person’s age, body mass, plasma proteins, and renal function.

Age: An individual’s age likely plays a role in how long exogenously administered testosterone stays in their system.  Elderly individuals (over the age of 65) tend to exhibit altered concentrations of plasma proteins such as albumin and sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG) compared to younger adults.  As a result, it would be expected that the pharmacokinetics of testosterone would be altered among those considered elderly to younger adults.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10634401

Body mass: A person’s body mass is often influenced by the amount of testosterone circulating throughout the body.  Individuals with higher testosterone have greater propensity to build muscle and burn fat stores.  Additionally, body mass index (BMI) may also affect how long testosterone esters remain in a user’s system after discontinuation.  An individual with a high BMI may exhibit a different elimination half-life of testosterone esters compared to a low BMI user.  That said, it is unclear exactly how BMI or body fat percentage may affect the half-life of a specific testosterone ester.

Dietary intake: It is understood that a testosterone user’s age can affect sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG) levels, which in turn can influence how long testosterone stays in their system.  In addition to age, dietary intake can also influence whether an individual exhibits high or low SHBG concentrations.  The more protein you consume, the lower your SHBG levels are likely to be, whereas the more fiber you consume, the greater your SHBG concentrations are likely to be.

The greater your levels of SHBG, the less free testosterone you’re likely to have circulating throughout your system.  The lower your SHBG levels, the greater your concentration of free testosterone is likely to be.  Therefore it could be surmised that eating a high-fiber diet may result in faster elimination of testosterone esters than a diet high in protein. On a side note, you may be interested to read about “Foods That Increase Testosterone Levels” via boosting endogenous production.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10634401

Hepatic function: Individuals with compromised hepatic function may metabolize testosterone at a slower rate, ultimately retaining it for a longer duration than those with normative liver health.  Within the liver, testosterone is metabolized by hepatic mixed function oxidases to convert testosterone to androstenedione (via oxidation of the 17-OH group).  It is possible that 17-OH oxidation is poorer as a result of hepatic impairment, leading to a longer term of testosterone elimination.

Metabolic rate: It may be necessary to consider your BMR (basal metabolic rate) when contemplating how long testosterone is likely to stay in your system.  Though testosterone can speed up your BMR, your baseline (pre-treatment) BMR may affect how long testosterone esters stay in your system after your final injection.  Individuals with a high BMR are burning more energy at rest and tend to eliminate drugs quicker than those with a low BMR.

It is possible that the higher your BMR, the quicker you should expect to eliminate a particular testosterone ester post-ingestion.  The degree to which BMR affects testosterone ester elimination isn’t fully understood, but is likely to play a minor role.

Plasma proteins: Concentrations of plasma proteins such as SHBG (sex-hormone binding globulin) and albumin may determine the pharmacokinetics of testosterone esters.  Sex-hormone binding globulin binds to over half of testosterone molecules within a male’s plasma and renders them inactive.  As SHBG concentrations increase, unbound testosterone is known to decrease.

As SHBG concentrations decrease, unbound testosterone is thought to increase.  Discrepancies in plasma concentrations of free testosterone may predict whether an individual is likely to eliminate testosterone quicker or slower than average.  Someone with high SHBG may eliminate testosterone esters faster than those with low levels of SHBG due to the fact that plasma concentrations of testosterone will be greater among those with low SHBG.

  • Source: http://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/archives/fdaDrugInfo.cfm?archiveid=7787

Renal function: Testosterone esters are processed by the kidneys and excreted primarily via the urine.  Individuals with renal impairment may eliminate testosterone esters at a slower-than-average rate.  Renal impairment is known to interfere with efficient excretion of various drugs, leading to decreased clearance, increased reabsorption and redistribution prior to elimination.  For this reason, it could be hypothesized that someone with impaired kidney function may retain testosterone esters for a longer duration than those with normative kidney health.

  1. Dosage

The dosage of testosterone esters that you administer can affect how long it is likely to stay in your system.  Since most individuals administer just enough to get their testosterone levels within the normal range, dosages injected are subject to significant variation.  That said, the greater the dosage of testosterone you administer on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, the longer you can expect it to linger in systemic circulation.

According to medical literature, an example of a therapeutic dose range for an ester like testosterone cypionate is 50 mg to 400 mg to be administered every 2 to 4 weeks.  If you were to administer just 50 mg every 4 weeks, the exogenous testosterone would clear from your system quicker than if you were to take 400 mg every 4 weeks.  This is due to the fact that higher dosages of any substance will stay in systemic circulation for a longer duration than lower doses.

Considering the half-life of 8 days for testosterone cypionate, we could estimate that after a 400 mg dose, a user would still have 200 mg in their system after cessation for 8 days.  A 50 mg user would only have 25 mg remaining in their system after 8 days of discontinuation.  Therefore we should expect a slightly longer half-life among those taking extremely high (or supratherapeutic) dosages compared to those taking extremely low dosages.

  1. Frequency/Term of administration

How often you take testosterone isn’t necessarily as important as the dosage that you’re administering on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.  However, the more frequently you use testosterone, the more likely you are to have ingested a larger dosage over a short-term.  Someone administering testosterone frequently is more likely to accumulate the exogenous esters in his/her system (especially muscle tissues) than someone administering it once every week.

In addition to frequency of administration, it may be necessary to consider the term over which you’ve taken it.  Someone that’s been using testosterone esters for just a day is unlikely to retain them in systemic circulation for nearly as long as someone who’s been using them for months.  Long-term users are likely to exhibit heightened plasma concentrations of testosterone, as well as an increased elimination half-life compared to short-term users.

High-frequency, long-term users are likely to accumulate testosterone esters within the kidneys to a greater extent than infrequent, short-term users.  This may be due to an attainment of steady state concentrations and increases in plasma levels of testosterone.  As a result of this accumulation, a reduction in excretion efficiency is likely among chronic long-term users of testosterone esters – possibly extending elimination half-life.

  1. Route of Administration

There are many ways in which testosterone can be administered.  This article is primarily addressing intramuscularly administered testosterone, but this is not the sole route of administration.  Should an individual administer testosterone esters transdermally or orally (via a tablet), its pharmacokinetics will be altered.  Intramuscularly injected testosterone stays in the system for a longer term than transdermal and oral formats.

  • Intramuscular injections: Administration of testosterone esters via intramuscular injection is associated with an elimination half-life of ranging from a few days to over a week – depending on the specific ester. Should you have administered testosterone esters intramuscularly, you can expect them to stay in your system significantly longer than oral or transdermal formats.
  • Transdermal: Transdermally administered testosterone has an elimination half-life of approximately 1.29 hours. This would suggest that it is likely to be completely eliminated from a user’s system within 7.1 days of discontinuation.  The bioavailability and pharmacokinetics may be altered among transdermal users depending on the specific site of administration.
  • Oral: It is uncommon for individuals to ingest orally formatted testosterone due to the fact that it has an extremely low bioavailability. The elimination half-life of orally administered testosterone isn’t well understood nor is it well-documented.  It should be hypothesized that orally administered testosterone is eliminated quicker than intramuscular injections, but possibly slower than transdermal formats.

Testosterone: Absorption, Metabolism, Excretion (Details)

Following intramuscular injection of testosterone esters, the esters are slowly absorbed from the lipid tissue at the specific site of administration.  Testosterone cypionate, for example, attains peak plasma concentrations in approximately 3 days (72 hours) post-intramuscular injection.  If applied via transdermal (gel) formats, serum testosterone concentrations spike within 30 minutes of administration and optimal levels may be attained within 24 hours.

Other transdermal formats such as the transdermal testosterone system may reach peak plasma levels within 12 hours of application.  Transmucosal testosterone tablets tend to increase plasma concentrations to peak within 12 hours of ingestion.  After testosterone enters the body (intramuscularly, transdermally, or transmucosally), 98% binds to SHBG (sex-hormone binding globulin) plasma proteins and is distributed throughout the body.

Only 2% of testosterone remains “free testosterone” within the plasma.  Testosterone esters are subject to rapid metabolism via hydrolysis prior to exerting significant physiologic effects.  Within tissues, testosterone esters undergo biotransformation by 5-alpha-reductase enzymes to form dihydrotestosterone.  The duration of testosterone ester effects are influenced by de-esterification as well as speed of absorption.

Free androgens are then subject to metabolism via oxidation of the 17-OH group within the liver.  As was already mentioned, the elimination half-life of testosterone is subject to variation based on the route of administration, as well as the specific ester administered.  Intramuscularly administered esters will be eliminated from a user’s system in approximately 2 to 7 weeks after discontinuation.

Upon cessation, a bulk of the testosterone dosage (90%) will be processed by the kidneys and excreted as conjugated glucuronides and/or sulfates within the urine.  Around 6% of the dosage will be excreted as unconjugated testosterone within feces.  Excretion will be expedited among those utilizing transdermal and transmucosal testosterone esters (compared to intramuscular users), and metabolite ratios within urine and feces may be highly dependent upon route of administration.

  • Source: https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/testosterone
  • Source: http://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/archives/fdaDrugInfo.cfm?archiveid=7787

Types of Testosterone Drug Tests

There are several ways in which a person could be tested for testosterone.  Though most individuals undergoing testosterone testing are simply doing so for medical purposes, others may be doing so to prove that they are “clean” or have refrained from doping in an athletic competition.  The most common screening for testosterone “doping” among athletes is a urinary test, but other testing modalities include blood and saliva tests.

Urine tests: If you are a high level collegiate, professional, or Olympic athlete – you may be subject to mandatory drug testing.  These “athletic doping tests” will measure levels of testosterone in your system prior to competition.  One way to determine whether exogenous testosterone esters were administered is via collection of a urine sample, followed by professional urinary analysis.

A urinalysis will accurately determine whether testosterone was administered intramuscularly for a relatively long duration.  However, if the testosterone was administered orally, detection within urine may be minimized to just a few hours.  Therefore you’re more likely to test positive for elevated testosterone if you had utilized it intramuscularly than orally or transdermally.

Urine is typically assessed for testosterone/epitestosterone (T/E) glucuronide ratio with various thresholds or “cutoff” values.  This is accomplished with GC-MS (gas chromatography/mass spectrometry) and/or HPLC (high-performance liquid chromatography).  As of 2005, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had T/E ratios set at “4.”  Should an individual’s urine contain an abnormal ratio of T/E, he/she may be considered to have used exogenous testosterone.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16799097
  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20355166

Blood tests: Another way to determine an individual’s level of testosterone is to collect a blood sample.  Though blood tests are more invasive than urine tests and may provide a shorter window of detection for testosterone among dopers, they are considered highly accurate if a sample is collected within days of an intramuscular testosterone injection.  In addition to detecting elevated testosterone among athletes, blood tests are often used by medical professionals to test for hypogonadism (low testosterone).

A blood sample will determine levels of free testosterone (unbound) as well as the total level of the hormone within your body.  An athlete that has recently taken a large dosage of intramuscular testosterone is very likely to fail both a blood and urine test.  On the other hand, a blood test may only detect orally or transdermally administered testosterone for a short-term after administration.

Saliva tests: Another promising modality for assessment of testosterone levels is via an oral fluid sample (saliva test).  An oral fluid sample may be able to determine whether an athlete was likely to have administered exogenous testosterone esters.  Typical biomarkers of doping such as: testosterone/epitestosterone ratio, androsterone, etiocholanolone, and/or androstanediols can be determined in oral fluid.

However, it appears as though oral fluid tests are not always as accurate as urine and blood tests.  For this reason, techniques for collecting and analyzing oral fluid necessitate improvement before a saliva test becomes feasible for athletic and medical testing.  Though saliva tests have advantages of low cost and minimal invasiveness, they are not yet accurate enough to serve as a viable modality of testosterone testing.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24167110
  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19325500

Who may be tested for Testosterone?

Exogenously administered testosterone isn’t considered an illicit drug.  However, it is assessed for among athletes due to the fact that it is known to enhance performance (strength and endurance).  Levels of testosterone are also assessed among medical patients, especially if they’ve had a history of hypogonadism.

  • Athletes: Individuals participating in high-level athletic competitions may look for any advantage they can get over their competitors.  One such advantage that many athletes utilize is administration of testosterone during training and/or competition.  For this reason athletes at the collegiate, professional, and Olympic levels are usually tested for “doping.”  Should a testosterone test indicate that an athlete administered exogenous testosterone, he/she may be banned from competition and possibly fined.
  • Patients with hypogonadism: Individuals with abnormally low testosterone may be subject to frequent testosterone testing to ensure that their levels are within a normative range.  Should levels of testosterone appear abnormally high among medical patients, dosages of testosterone replacement therapies (e.g. esters) are usually reduced.  On the other hand, if levels of testosterone appear low (indicative of hypogonadism), increases in dosing may be required.  A medical professional will usually work with a patient to determine optimal dosing based on side effects.

Tips to clear Testosterone from your system

If you’ve recently stopped taking testosterone, you may be in a hurry to clear it from your system; especially if you utilized it for athletic doping.  On the other hand, you may be concerned with health implications associated with exogenous testosterone.  Below are some tips that may aid in the elimination of testosterone from your system.  Should you consider any of these tips, always talk to a medical professional to verify safety and alleged efficacy prior to implementation.

  1. Discontinuation: To get testosterone esters out of your system, you’ll first need to cease administration. Each additional injection will prolong the term of elimination and its systemic retention. The longer you’ve been off of testosterone, the more likely it is to have been eliminated from your body.
  2. Calcium-D-Glucarate: A large percentage of exogenous testosterone is eliminated as conjugated glucuronides and sulfates within urine. The kidneys are responsible for facilitating this excretion, and therefore supplementation with calcium-d-glucarate may be of benefit. Calcium-d-glucarate clears renal detoxification pathways via beta-glucuronidase inhibition, possibly hastening excretion of testosterone metabolites.
  3. Activated charcoal: You could consider supplementing with activated charcoal to expedite elimination of testosterone metabolites. It is unclear as to whether the charcoal would actually bind to testosterone esters within the body, but it’s possibly worth a shot. Charcoal is an effective detoxifying agent upon discontinuation of most pharmacological treatments.
  4. Dietary alterations: Research suggests that SHBG (sex-hormone binding globulin) is altered by our dietary intake. Specifically increasing the amount of protein we eat can lower SHBG, whereas increasing intake of fiber can decrease it. You may want to consider increasing fiber intake to increase SHBG, which will bind to testosterone esters, thereby (potentially) lowering plasma concentrations and expediting elimination.
  5. Urinary pH: It is unclear as to what effect urinary pH has on the excretion of testosterone esters. In some cases, manipulation of urinary pH can expedite elimination of various drugs, leading to quicker detoxification. It is possible that certain formulations may be eliminated quicker in acidic urine (low pH) compared to alkaline (high pH) urine.

How long has Testosterone stayed in your system after stopping?

If you’ve recently discontinued testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) or a cycle of testosterone esters, realize that the duration they stay in your system will be dependent upon the specific ester you administered and route of administration.  Orally and transdermally administered testosterone should be completely out of your system within several days post-discontinuation.  Intramuscularly administered testosterone may take anywhere from 1 to 7 weeks to eliminate from your system.

Cypionate usually remains in circulation for longer than enanthate and propionate formulations.  Share a comment mentioning how long you believe testosterone stayed in your system after discontinuation.  Have you been drug tested for testosterone?  If so, mention whether you passed or failed, along with the amount of elapsed time between the testing and your final injection/administration.

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  • A Reader May 4, 2016, 7:30 pm

    Nice summary article, but would like to point out that the information about SHBG and testosterone excretion rates is backwards. Lower SHBG and higher free T plasma levels lead to higher excretion rates. Higher SHBG and lower free T plasma levels lead to lower excretion rates. Thus a high-fiber diet would tend one towards reduced excretion, while a high-protein diet would do the opposite.

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