Testosterone is considered a steroid hormone that is secreted mostly by the testicles in men, with additional small amounts secreted by the adrenal glands. It is from the androgen group, and is a male sex hormone with anabolic properties. In men, testosterone is vital for helping develop reproductive tissues (testicles, prostate, etc.). It also promotes secondary sexual characteristics such as muscle size, mass, and production of body hair.
This is a hormone that has a major impact on our health and well-being. When increased, it can provide a boost in sexual performance, cognition, mood, muscle mass, and body hair. Having sufficient testosterone is also considered a good preventative measure against developing osteoporosis. Among adult men, testosterone levels are typically between 7x and 8x greater than levels among women.
Medically, testosterone is used primarily to help males who are unable to naturally produce sufficient testosterone (e.g. hypnogonadism). In this case, a doctor may recommend “TRT” (testosterone replacement therapy), which helps keep levels within the “normal” range. Other uses for testosterone boosters include: erectile dysfunction, osteoporosis, height growth, and appetite stimulation.
Many individuals have undergone “TRT” and androgen replacement therapy for years with positive results. However, some people don’t like the side effects and/or feel as if they would rather not have to take T-boosters to function. If you have taken the testosterone for a lengthy period of time and quit, you may experience withdrawal symptoms.
Factors that influence Testosterone withdrawal
There are many factors that will influence the withdrawal process from testosterone. These include things like: how long you’ve been taking testosterone / receiving boosters, how much you have been increasing it, how abruptly you tapered off of it, as well as other individual factors such as: diet, whether you exercise, etc.
1. Time Span
How long have you been receiving testosterone injections or applying AndroGel? In general, the longer the time span over which you have been receiving treatment, the longer it may take your body to readjust upon discontinuation. If you have only been receiving testosterone therapy for a short duration and stop, you have a much greater chance of recovering without severe withdrawal symptoms.
2. Dosage (Amount)
In general, the greater the amount of testosterone you inject or take, the more difficulty you may have stopping. The dosage that you are taking will vary depend on the condition for which you are taking it. For example, those who are receiving short-acting solution may receive only between 25 mg to 50 mg between 2 and 3 times per week.
On the other hand, those receiving long-acting cypionate or enathate may receive between 50 mg and 400 mg every 2 to 4 weeks. If a transdermal film application is utilized, most people take between 2.5 mg and 5 mg. If it is applied in gel format (i.e. AndroGel), which often come in tubes or spray, recommended dosing is usually 5 g, 7.5 g, or 10 g of the gel, equating to between 25 mg and 50 mg of testosterone.
Those who had to take higher quantities of testosterone may have more of a difficult time when it comes to stopping. The entire nervous system will go through a period of readjustment when the dosing is dropped and following discontinuation. It is important to work with your doctor to determine how quickly to taper off of testosterone.
3. Cold Turkey vs. Tapering
How did you stop your testosterone? Did you gradually taper down the amount you were receiving or did you abruptly discontinue? Simply discontinuing without gradually tapering down the amount of hormone you received may lead to more severe withdrawal effects. This is because your nervous system becomes dependent on the amount you were receiving for functioning.
If you immediately stop the testosterone therapy without giving it any time to adapt to changes, your nervous system may be somewhat shocked at the significant drop-off in production. In most cases, doctors will work with you to gradually reduce the testosterone therapy so that you can minimize any unwanted discontinuation effects.
4. Individual Factors
It is important to keep in mind that many individual factors can influence testosterone levels. Some individuals have a physiology and genetics that allow them to quickly recover from testosterone withdrawal, while others be sensitive to discontinuation. Additionally whether you are taking other medications could have an influence on what you experience during withdrawal.
Your age, whether you engage in physical exercise (e.g. strength training), and your diet can all influence how quickly you recover from withdrawals. The goal when you stop enhancing testosterone production should be to elevate levels through natural means. Someone who engages in activities that are known to boost levels may experience a quicker recovery than someone who doesn’t.
Testosterone Withdrawal Symptoms: List of Possibilities
Most would agree that withdrawal from taking testosterone is relatively mild. There are always going to be some more extreme cases though, and withdrawal experiences are typically based on the individual. Below are some of the most common symptoms that people deal with when they stop their testosterone boosters.
- Anxiety: Many people report experiencing reductions in anxiety when they receive testosterone boosters. There is some evidence linking increases in testosterone with decreases in anxiety. When you stop the T-boosters, your anxiety levels may initially increase; in some cases significantly.
- Depression: Some people note a mild depression for a week or two when they cycle off or stop testosterone. The depression that you experience may be more severe depending on your particular life circumstances. It is known that low testosterone can contribute to depression, especially in aging men. Although there are many user-suggested links between using antidepressants and low testosterone levels, there is currently not enough evidence to support this claim.
- Fatigue: When you stop increasing your testosterone, you may notice the onset of fatigue. This fatigue may be overwhelming initially, but should improve over time. There is evidence that having low testosterone can lead to low energy. When you come off of the testosterone, your levels are likely going to be initially very low.
- Headaches: Experiencing headaches is a normal consequence of withdrawing from many things, including testosterone. This is usually caused by your nervous system attempting to adapt to functioning without the booster.
- Mood swings: When coming off of testosterone, you may notice that your moods constantly change. One minute you may feel really angry and upset, the next you may feel depressed, and other times you may just feel anxious. Usually it takes some time before your mood will stabilize after you withdraw.
- Muscle loss: When you increase your testosterone, it makes it much easier to pack on lean muscle mass. When you stop taking the booster, you may experience some degree of muscle loss. This is a common experience for bodybuilders and for those who have noticed improvements in size while working out.
- Low libido: Your sex drive may experience significant decrease compared to when you were receiving the boosts. Many people take testosterone for the specific purpose of increasing their sex drive. When they stop taking it, they may experience reduced interest in having sex.
- Low testosterone: The inevitable part of stopping testosterone therapy is that your T-levels will be reduced. During this time, it is recommended to engage in activities that will stimulate your body’s natural production of testosterone. Over time, you should notice that your T-level improves from when you stopped receiving injections or applying gel.
- Sexual dysfunction: In some cases testosterone is given to help with erectile dysfunction and sexual performance. If you notice some degree of sexual dysfunction, it is likely due to the fact that your testosterone has dipped back down to a low level.
- Slowed cognition: There is some evidence that increasing testosterone levels can help with cognition, specifically mental processing speed and memory. If you notice that you have “brain fog,” slowed thinking speed, and slight dips in memory, this may be part of withdrawal.
- Weight changes: If you gained or lost weight while getting testosterone boosted, you may notice the exact opposite when you come off of it. The body tends to reset itself back to homeostatic functioning over time. Therefore if you lost weight while on testosterone, you may gain back the weight that you lost.
Note: The amount of time testosterone stays in your system may determine when you first notice these discontinuation symptoms. If you were utilizing intramuscular ester injections, symptoms may emerge weeks after your final dose compared to if you were using transdermal or transmucosal formats (which have a shorter half-life).
Testosterone Withdrawal Length: How long does it last?
Some people will only notice symptoms for a week or two after they’ve discontinued using testosterone boosters, while others may have longer lasting effects. Although symptoms from discontinuing testosterone tend to be similar, the length and severity will be based on the individual. Those that were taking high amounts of testosterone for an extended period of time may take months to notice improvement.
Those who cycle on and off of it may become used to the little withdrawal periods and know what to expect. However people who just quit for the first time may initially be overwhelmed with what they are experiencing. During withdrawal, you may want to consider partaking in some natural methods of testosterone boosting including: strength training, zinc supplementation, reducing stress, increasing healthy fat consumption, consider protein supplementation for BCAA (branch chain amino acids).
Compared to most psychiatric drugs and illicit substances, withdrawing from testosterone is regarded as being relatively minor. However, just because it is considered fairly minor to withdraw from doesn’t mean it’s easy. When you artificially boost testosterone, your body becomes accustomed to receiving the booster for daily functioning, and when the supply is cut, you may have a difficult time.
Upon discontinuing T, your nervous system and body may take awhile to readjust itself to functioning without it. The readjustment process is what causes a person to experience withdrawal symptoms. If you have successfully stopped taking testosterone boosters, feel free to share your withdrawal experience in the comments section below.