Natural supplements to boost your testosterone levels and libido

From ashwagandha to fenugreek, we explore whether traditional medicines and supplements really can give your testosterone levels a boost.

Many companies are now selling natural testosterone-boosting supplements that claim to contribute to fertility and a healthy sex drive in men.  

Ingredients like maca root, ashwagandha, and fenugreek have been used in traditional medicine for years — but, what does the research show?  

In this article, we cover:  

What should I consider before taking supplements?

If your testosterone levels are low, or if you have symptoms of low testosterone or low libido, it’s best to speak to your doctor. You may need further tests, and people with a true deficiency may benefit from testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).  

1. Start with lifestyle changes 

If your testosterone levels are at the lower end of normal, lifestyle changes are likely to have the greatest effect on your testosterone and libido. So, it’s best to start here.  

Here we’ve listed a few supplements along with any research to show their effects, if any, on testosterone and libido. But none of these is a miracle cure – at best, any effects are likely to be mild.  

2. Safety of supplements 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate supplements, which means many of these products haven’t been through clinical trials. They’re also not put through the same rigorous control checks as medications.  

So, it’s up to you to make sure that any supplements are coming from a trusted source. Some supplements — even herbal medicines — can interact with some medications. Bear this in mind and speak to your doctor if you’re unsure.


Ashwagandha, or Withania somnifera, is an adaptogenic herb used in Ayurveda, a traditional medicine originating in India. Its roots are often used in supplements for multiple purposes. 

Potential benefits of ashwagandha include: 

  • Anti-anxiety and stress-relieving effects [1,2] 
  • Improved sleep quality and duration [3] 
  • Reduced inflammation [4] 
  • Increased muscle mass and strength [5] 
  • Improved post-exercise recovery [6]
  • Improved semen quality [7,8]

Does ashwagandha increase testosterone levels? 

It’s likely that ashwagandha can help to increase testosterone levels in men, based on the low-to-medium-quality evidence available. Randomised control trials have found that testosterone levels may increase by 10–22% with ashwagandha [1,6,9–11]. Lower-quality trials have found similar results [7,8,12]. But it’s important to note that there is a possibility of bias in some of this research.  

Does ashwagandha boost libido? 

Increasing testosterone levels doesn’t necessarily equate to raised libido. But it’s quite possible that ashwagandha has aphrodisiac properties. This may be due to its stress-busting effects, as stress is known to lower libido. A randomised, double-blinded study found that ashwagandha resulted in an increased perception of sexual wellbeing [11]. The participants’ scores improved across all five domains, including sexual cognition, sexual arousal, sexual behaviour, orgasm, and sexual desire.  

How to take ashwagandha 

There isn’t a clear optimal dose or form of ashwagandha due to the limited evidence available. Many higher-quality studies used a daily dose of 600–675mg of KSM-66 extract. Some lower-quality studies used 5g of ground root powder.  

Most supplements come in the form of 500mg capsules, with BioPerine (black pepper extract) which is thought to aid absorption.  

How long does it take for ashwagandha to work?  

The effects of ashwagandha are not usually immediate, and you may need to take it for as long as two to three months before noticing any benefit.  

What are the risks associated with taking ashwagandha? 

Because ashwagandha may increase testosterone levels, people with hormone-sensitive prostate cancer should avoid it.  

There have also been rare case reports of people experiencing liver damage when taking ashwagandha [13]. These have been mild-to-moderate in severity and self-resolved when stopping the supplement. It can be difficult to know whether the effects are due to ashwagandha itself or another contaminant. If you develop symptoms of liver damage, stop taking the supplement and speak to your doctor.  

Ashwagandha is usually well tolerated, but it may cause mild side effects for some people.  

Side effects of ashwagandha may include:  

  • Loose stools 
  • Upper gastrointestinal discomfort 
  • Dizziness or drowsiness 

Summary: It’s likely that ashwagandha can cause small-to-moderate increases in testosterone levels and possibly improve libido too. Research is in its early stages, and higher-quality studies are needed to confirm its effects.


Fenugreek, or Trigonella foenum-graecum, is a plant traditionally used in India and parts of the Arab world for its health-promoting properties. Recently, it’s become popular for its potential effects on testosterone levels.  

Potential benefits of fenugreek include:  

  • Beneficial effects on blood sugar control [14] 
  • Appetite regulation [15]
  • Cholesterol-lowering activity [16]

Does fenugreek increase testosterone levels? 

The effects of fenugreek have mainly been attributed to saponins, a group of glycosides found in fenugreek seeds. Unfortunately, the few trials investigating the effects of fenugreek on testosterone have produced mixed results.  

For example, two studies showed that 500–600mg fenugreek extract taken for 8–12 weeks was found to increase testosterone levels by up to 12% [17,18]. In one of these studies, the participants took part in a resistance exercise programme which may influence the effects of fenugreek. On the other hand, two studies with similar protocols showed no effect, at least on free testosterone levels [19,20].  

Another study investigated the effects of Furosap (a fenugreek seed extract enriched with 20% protodioscin) in 50 men and found free testosterone levels increased by up to 46%. They also found participants experienced improvements in mood, energy, libido, and sperm count [21]. However, it’s important to note this study was sponsored by a company that had invested in the fenugreek products being tested. This can sometimes lead to a bias in results.  

Importantly, no studies have found that fenugreek leads to a significant decrease in testosterone levels.  

Does fenugreek boost libido? 

One double-blind randomised control trial recruited 60 healthy men and found that those who took 600mg of fenugreek supplements daily for six weeks had an improvement in libido, with increased number of morning erections and frequency of sexual activity [22]. However, these supplements also contained zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6 which may have affected the results. What’s more, this study was funded by a company providing fenugreek products so may be subject to bias. 

Fenugreek may be beneficial to women’s libido too. A small study investigated the effects of 600mg fenugreek daily in women with low sex drives. By the end of the 8-week study, the group taking fenugreek reported a significant increase in sexual desire and arousal [23].  

In summary, due to the limited research available, it’s unclear whether fenugreek is beneficial for libido.  

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How to take fenugreek 

Due to differences in study outcomes, it’s difficult to make specific recommendations on the best form of fenugreek. Most studies use 500–600mg fenugreek seed extract per day for 8–12 weeks.  

How long does it take for fenugreek to work?  

Some studies have reported increases in testosterone within 6 weeks.  

What are the risks associated with taking fenugreek?

In studies using doses up to 600mg per day, fenugreek seed extract appears to be relatively safe.  

Fenugreek may cause mild side effects, such as headaches, indigestion, and diarrhoea. People with allergies to chickpeas or peanuts may also react to fenugreek.  

As with other blood-reducing herbs, there is a risk that fenugreek may cause blood sugars to drop too low when taken alongside other diabetes drugs.  

Summary: It’s possible that fenugreek may help to increase testosterone levels, but larger-scale, higher-quality trials are needed. There’s not enough convincing evidence to show that fenugreek has any meaningful impact on men’s libido.


Maca (Lepidium meyenii), not to be confused with matcha,  is a plant native to South America. Maca root has a reputation for increasing virility, which has led people to investigate its effects on testosterone and libido.  

Benefits of this supplement have not been thoroughly investigated, but some evidence shows it may help to:  

  • Increase energy levels  [24]
  • Improve mood [24,25] 

Does maca increase testosterone levels? 

None of the trials that have investigated the effect of maca on testosterone levels have found convincing evidence of a meaningful increase [26–31].  

It’s likely this confusion stems from maca influencing libido. Libido is complex, and although low testosterone can lower sex drive, the two aren’t inextricably linked.  

Does maca increase libido? 

A 2010 systematic review of four studies showed that there is some limited evidence that maca may improve libido [32]. However, one of these trials (whose participants were eight endurance cyclists) showed no beneficial effect of the supplement on libido.  

There is some evidence that maca may also help to reduce some of the sexual side effects of antidepressant medication [33,34].  

How to take maca 

Most studies provided 1.5–3g of maca per day for 2–12 weeks. There does not appear to be a noticeable difference between red, black, and yellow maca when it comes to libido. But red and black maca are the more well-studied forms.  

How long does it take for maca to work? 

One study showed that men experienced an increase in libido as early as four weeks. By eight weeks, libido reached its peak and plateaued [31].  

What are the risks associated with taking maca?

Maca tends to be well tolerated with no adverse effects reported in the studies above. To date, however, research into maca’s potential adverse effects is limited.  

Note that maca contains iodine. This may be helpful or harmful to a thyroid condition, depending on the type.  

Summary: Maca root is unlikely to have any effect on testosterone,  but it may help to increase libido.

How can I monitor my testosterone levels?

If you’re considering taking a supplement, you may want to monitor your testosterone levels to see if it’s having any effect.  

You can measure your testosterone levels at home using our Testosterone Blood Test. Want to know your free testosterone levels too? Try our Free Testosterone Blood Test.  


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