T Nation

Hormone Help


I didn't know where to place this topic. I come to you guys because no one knows more about hormones and endocrinology than bodybuilders. And of every bodybuilding mag and organization out there I trust T-Mag and its readers the most.

Here's my dilemma:

I'm 34 now and around the age of 29 I stopped weightlifting. I got into a really bad funk, and other than skate and jog I didn't lift a thing. Around that same age of 29 I noticed I was getting fatigued faster and was more unmotivated than usual. (I've sufferred from depression since I was a kid).

Last year (at 33) I got so fatigued that I couldn't get out of bed. I went to the docs and had my blood tested. My t-levels were like 300 ng/l. The doc said it was kinda low for a 33 year old but still normal. He said he would test them again in a few weeks.

I jumped the gun and was looking for ways to raise my t levels. I thought maybe the fatigue was coming from there. I went to the nutrition store and the guy suggested dhea with a chrysin formula that had tribulus. I took it not expecting much, but to my suprise the fatigue lifted.

The next blood test was taken at a different time, and showed that my t levels were still low. So I was prescribed testosterone gel. It took the fatigue away. When I ran out of gel I decided to get dhea and straight tribulus. I felt fine for months until the tribulus and dhea ran out. The fatigue hit me hard again. I would get out of breath quickly just walking up stairs. Then I would be even more depressed than usual.

I started up the t-gel again and felt better. But one day I noticed the fatigue coming back even with the gel. I hadn't taken dhea for a while. Maybe I didn't have enough dhea? I bought some and the fatigue lifted. Odd? Was I naturally low on dhea as well?

Well, I ran out of t gel a week ago, but I've been taken dhea every day. The fatigue is coming back though. I found a pack of t gel that was in the medicine cabinet. I used it and felt better. What the heck is going on? Prior to getting my blood tests my cholesterol and blood pressure were high. I was fairly strong for my physical condition when I was 28-29 squatting like 375. Now 145 felt like a bear on my back. (Don't laugh at the numbers...I blew four lumbar discs when I was 19!)

I started looking up ways to naturally raise t levels. I started lifting again. Without my t gel or dhea I don't feel like doing jack, my depression is worse, and I feel fatigued as if going through opiate withdrawal. I also noticed that my body feels as if it's flowing with adrenaline one moment, and I'm exhausted the next like I'm coming down from a rush. For instance, if I walk even slowly up the stairs I get winded and my jugular pulses so fast you can see my neck throb!Then as my heart rate slows down and my breathing gets normal I feel wasted.

Does anyone have any advice? Should I cycle dhea? Should I just stick to weightlifting, eating right, and taking tribulus and dhea instead of t gel? I know you guys aren't doctors, but any advice would help. I also noticed that just taking dhea and no t gel or tribulus causes my nipples to hurt. When I was 15 this happened to me and the doc said it was the result of puberty. That my body was making more estrogen. But after puberty this went away. No more sore nips! :slight_smile: Could the dhea be causing increased estrogen? My doc is just an internal med doc. He's not as clued in as you guys. Opinions??


I think it is fairly obvious your depression and fatigue levels are from low testosterone levels. I would suggest taking the route that allows easiest lifting of the fatigue and depression. If tribulus does it, then use tribulus. If tribulus doesn't do anything any more, then get a doc to right a prescription for testosterone replacement.

The sore nips is an interesting tidbit of info. I would personally choose to stay either on tribulus or test rather than simply using dhea. If using tribulus or test by themselves lifts your symptoms, then don't bother with dhea.

My suggestion is to look to an endocrinologist. However, I think the issue is fairly straightforward.

Remember the bell curve for "normal" testosterone is a range across all health and age populations. 300 ng/dl is not normal, it is low. It might be normal for a 60 year old, but not you. Therefore if tribulus does not fix the issue, or if you feel that you want the testosterone anyways, I would suggest you get to a doc and make it clear that you want a prescription for test and you will find another doctor to give your money to if your desires aren't met.


What does your actual diet and exercise look like?



It's a lot better now compared to how it was. I used to eat junk food daily. Now it's mostly chicken, fish, and veggies. I'm still trying to improve it even more. I've always had a hard time keeping away from junk. I mostly drink water and Gatorade now instead of the daily soda.


I'm starting as if I've never worked out before. So I'm doing three times a week of the basics:


Squats 5 reps for 5 sets


Benchpress same reps and sets as above


Deadlifts same reps and sets as above

My goals are to keep increasing weight and sets gradually. Then adding more exercises as my body gets used to it again. I haven't done weights seriously for like 5 years now.

I think I'll try to stick to tribulus and dhea (when needed). I was reading that taking t-gel can be a hassle. I'll just keep getting my levels checked to make sure the t-gel is working.

Is there a specific weightlifting plan you guys recommend for low testosterone folks? By the way, thanks for the quick responses.


Really need some info on your actual diet--portions, calories, everything else. While it's true that 300 ng/dl is low T, diet can hurt or help your fatigue levels.

I would suggest adding 2 more exercises to your workouts, at higher rep ranges. Even for a newbie chick with far less testosterone than you have currently that training routine is...well a warm-up.

If tribulus works for your purposes great. Me personally I'd rather have the test than tribulus. And I'd rather have tribulus than dhea (never noticed anything from dhea).

I think if you can get an endocrinologist to see you the results will be well worth the hassles to get everything ironed out.


If you're really that fatigued or scared of training volume then I'd actually suggest the Starting Strength program. It's pre-written and 3 days a week.

Mr. Popular is gonna wanna kill me for saying that....


Are you gaining bodyweight from this diet? (And, what is your bodyweight now?)

You are honestly only doing 3 exercises a week?


The thing is, I think this is a bigger problem than just giving him a minimalistic program to match his minimal energy levels.

It would be like someone logging in and saying hey I can't work out because I'm too fat, and someone suggests they do the "eat whatever you want diet, because that seems to fit more in line with your attitude if you're that hungry or afraid of eating less".

It isn't likely to solve anything.


Haha. I knew you were going to say something like that.

I recommended it because I thought that if it is legitimate low T levels, then a minimal program based on big movements will be more productive than only 3 measly exercises in an entire week. Also easy to break into and stick with, which I view as its primary positive characteristics.

Also I think that he should get into a bigger and better program than that very soon after starting it. You know I'm not a real fan of that program. But it's an easy introduction point. Easy to understand, easy to execute. I kinda feel like I don't really want to take a the time to write a detailed layout up or search the web for something just perfect. Because that's his job. But more importantly I think that IF (and this could be a huge if) he's eating enough calories to sustain himself and fight off normal fatigue, then it's not the diet. If it's not the diet, then it's something more fundamental (blood chemistry) that won't be fixed by changing dietary rules and following a high volume program.

I have a feeling you're going to say it's his diet that's giving him fatigue. I agree it's a very likely suspect. But we don't know for sure yet.


A question about his diet; I've read and am concerned about myself that soy has high levels of estrogen in it and it's recommended to be avoided. Also that broc, caul, and cabbage tend to block estrogen pretty well. Is that a bunch of crap or is that stuff legitimate?

I prefer and use soy milk for cereal almost every day and for cooking and I like tofu every now and then, so thats going to suck if I need to stop consuming it. Also while I wouldn't mind eating broc, caul, and cabbage all the time, I'd like to know if it really did anything.


I don't count calories but I can go through a typical days eating:

Meal 1....a scrambled egg wrap using one egg, shredded cheese, and a mixed assortment of nuts. A glass of water and a cup of coffee.

Meal 2....a sprout salad with grilled chicken; water or a glass of Gatorade

Meal 3....A chicken breast sandwich and some Sun Chips

Meal 4....Some Sun Chips and a glass of milk

Meal 5....A spinach salad, a turkey burger, and water or Gatorade

Meal 6...Two yogurts and some nuts

My goal was to focus on those three exercises and increase sets and weight over time. Using the squat as an example, maybe getting to 300 pounds for 10 sets. I was into weightlifting for years and years, but after 5 years I've turned into one of those guys I always hated...you know, the I-Just-Want-To-Keep-Toned guys. The ones that weight like 2 pounds. Anyway, I'm 5'9" with a 34" waist and weigh like 200 pounds. Since I changed my diet from the crud I used to eat I lost 3 inches on my waist, but no weight loss overall.


What is your #1 goal aside from feeling better/test levels? Is it lose fat or is it gain muscle?

1) your meals are healthy but low calorie. If you haven't lost any scale weight however, that may mean that you're at maintenance level and are simply shedding some fat (as witnessed by the drop in waist size), which is always good, but may not be what you want depending on your goals.

2) you need more protein in meal for than just a glass of milk. You need more in meal 1 than just 1 egg.


Sorry it's taken a while to respond folks.

Anyway, I got my blood tested again and my t levels are still about the same. My vitamin D levels are really low as well and my blood pressure is still high despite the weight loss. Anyway, I don't have insurance so I can't always buy the t gel. I was taking it about 3-4 weeks consistently before the blood test. I guess that's not enough to make it increase at all?

I don't know if t levels affect the joints, but my joints are killing me.

My goals? Right now it's to feel like a healthy 34 year old. Instead I feel like a weak 65 year old. I want to gain muscle and keep the fat down.


TRT is a treatment, not a cure. If you are actually hypogonadal, whether primarily or secondarily, you can not cure the problem. Using TRT periodically will only create transient rises in your T levels. Once the treatment stops you will go back to the levels you were at before treatment.


Bonez is right--TRT is a treatment not a cure, and you will be on it for the rest of your life. That being said, I'd find some sort of way to get the money necessary to self-pay for an appointment and get a scrip, or something. I'd use Tribulus until then as it might help you feel a bit better, but really this is not something supps will fix. That's two blood tests in a row.

Save money, get to a doc, get a scrip, get your vitamin T. Make it 100% clear to whatever doc you visit that you will not under any circumstances leave without a prescription...or you'll find another doc. Many doctors are reluctant to give T out, but generally speaking they also like you giving them money, and threatening to not give them any more money in the way of finding a new doc can be persuasive.

Lots of good info in the "Over 35" forum.


On an unrelated note, Vitamin D is easy to fix, you can take some single doses pretty damn high and it will correct pretty quickly, and you can buy the vitamins over the counter. And Vitamin D does a lot of generally good things for a person.

What were the D levels (which variant of D was measured, and what were the units?)