- 1 What’s the difference between HGH and testosterone?
- 2 Can you take HGH for Low T?
- 3 Can you take Testosterone for GHD?
- 4 Symptoms of Low HGH and Testosterone
Human growth hormone (HGH) and testosterone (T) are two of the most anabolic hormones in the human body. Unfortunately, endocrinological conditions such as growth hormone deficiency (GHD) and hypogonadism can disrupt their normal synthesis and lead to debilitating symptoms.
These symptoms can be managed successfully with the use of hormone replacement therapies such as HGH therapy and testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). Currently, they are the drugs of choice for patients with low HGH or T respectively.
The correct treatment for the management of your condition will be determined by your doctor, after assessing your symptoms and test results. Using either or both therapies without medical supervision hides health risks that might significantly outweigh the possible benefits.
What’s the difference between HGH and testosterone?
Testosterone is a steroid hormone that regulates sexual function, muscle mass, bone mass and stimulates the production of sperm and red blood cells.
On the other hand, HGH is a peptide hormone that stimulates the growth, reproduction, and recovery of almost all cells in the human body. Its anabolic effects are not produced directly but mediated by another hormone called Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1).
HGH is produced in a pulsatile manner by the pituitary gland and has one or more daily peaks, usually during sleep. In comparison T is produced by the testicles and its levels follow a circadian rhythm.
Despite their completely different structure and secretion, there is a complex interplay between the effects of the two hormones.
Can you take HGH for Low T?
There is a lack of scientific evidence to suggest that HGH therapy might increase testosterone levels in humans. Some in vitro trials suggest that growth hormone might be able to stimulate the production of testosterone in rat testicles but the research is only preliminary.
Optimal HGH and IGF-1 levels are necessary for normal libido and erection in men but the mechanism is not related to increasing T levels
Studies have revealed that males with low HGH might have sexual problems independent of their testosterone levels. Besides, IGF-1 levels correlate with scores of sexual health and erectile function.
Low testosterone can lead to similar symptoms such as low libido, erectile dysfunction, and impotence. In addition to that, men with hypogonadism can also experience infertility, since T is required for the normal growth and maturation of sperm.
However, these symptoms can be managed only with the correct hormone replacement therapy such as TRT.
Thus, it is impossible to compare testosterone to HGH and determine which hormone is more effective in the treatment of a specific indication. The deficiency of either hormone can lead to debilitating symptoms which are often misinterpreted by patients.
Determining whether your symptoms are due to low HGH or testosterone problems requires a diagnostic exam and tests performed by an experienced medical doctor.
Only then you can safely receive the correct hormonal therapy for optimal results. You should never attempt to self-diagnose and search for a treatment online without medical consultation.
Can you take Testosterone for GHD?
Testosterone might potentiate the anabolic effects of HGH by influencing IGF-1 levels. A study in 12 patients with GHD reported that the co-administration of testosterone and HGH leads to higher IGF-1 levels when compared to HGH therapy alone.
Testosterone augments the effects of HGH by further increasing the levels of circulating IGF-1 but the exact mechanism is unknown.
However, the trial also revealed that testosterone does not stimulate HGH or IGF-1 production in the absence of natural HGH secretion. Thus, patients with GHD are not likely to experience an increase in their GH levels or improve their symptoms by taking testosterone therapy if their pituitary function is completely shut down.
Testosterone administration can affect the natural HGH production only when the latter is preserved
According to a study in hypogonadal men without GHD, the administration of T can increase the natural growth hormone levels. The scientists report that the increase is mainly due to the higher peak amplitude of the HGH pulses.
In other trials on healthy elderly men also reported that increasing testosterone to supraphysiological levels stimulates the pulsatile secretion of HGH. In both studies, testosterone therapy led to significantly increased production of IGF-1.
It is unclear if naturally higher levels of testosterone might lead to higher levels of HGH in healthy people
Can you take HGH and Testosterone together?
Currently, there is no contraindication against combining HGH and testosterone treatment in patients with more than one endocrine deficiency.
Such an example is Multiple Pituitary Hormone Deficiency (MPHD). In those cases, HGH and testosterone therapy can be combined to successfully manage the different symptoms.
The combination of T and HGH potentiates their anabolic and fat-burning effects. A study in 12 elderly men revealed that a combination of HGH and testosterone therapy leads to better improvements in body composition than either therapy alone.
Furthermore, a larger randomized trial in 131 elderly people also investigated the effects of a combined TRT and HGH therapy compared to either of them combined with placebo. In the tested men, the combination of T and HGH led to the highest gains in muscle and strength as well as the most prominent fat loss.
The dosage, effectiveness, and side-effect of a combined therapy should be closely monitored by an experienced doctor such as an endocrine specialist
Off-label use of HGH and testosterone products, such as popular bodybuilding stacks, might lead to more health risks than benefits. Side-effects may include water retention, edemas, high blood pressure, reduced insulin sensitivity, and more.
Long-term use might have negative effects on cardiovascular, endocrine, and metabolic health.
Symptoms of Low HGH and Testosterone
Your doctor will determine whether you have low HGH levels or low testosterone based on your symptoms and laboratory tests. Some of the symptoms in GHD and low T might be similar, but there are specific distinctions to be made.
GHD symptoms in adults are related to problems with cell and tissue repair as well as changes in fat distribution. They may include:
- fat gain concentrated around the abdomen and visceral obesity
- high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol
- hair thinning and hair loss affecting mostly the scalp
- decreased bone mineral density and osteoporosis in both men and women
Low T symptoms in men may lead to:
- low red blood cell count (anemia)
- body and facial hair loss
- reduced insulin sensitivity
- lower bone density and osteoporosis
- fat gain
Non-specific symptoms that are common in both GHD and low T include:
- loss of muscle mass and strength
- low energy levels and fatigue
- lack of libido and erectile dysfunction
- depression, anxiety, and mood swings
- problems with memory and mental focus
- reduced quality of life
The diagnosis of low testosterone requires a blood test performed in the morning when the natural T synthesis should be the highest.
According to the American Urological Association, low T and hypogonadism are diagnosed when total testosterone levels are under 300 ng/dL.
It is important to have your free testosterone levels calculated as well since they are a more precise indicator of hypogonadism even if total testosterone levels are normal.
In the case of GHD, your doctor might suggest a stimulation test such as an insulin tolerance test (ITT). It induces mild hypoglycemia which stimulates a peak in GH levels.
A normal GH peak should be higher than 7 ng/ml. If HGH levels are under 5ng/ml it is almost certainly a sign of GHD, according to the guidelines of the International Endocrine Society.
Best ways to optimize GH and Testosterone levels
In healthy individuals, certain lifestyle changes can help increase both testosterone and HGH levels. These changes include proper exercise, sleep, body fat percentage, and nutrition.
1. Resistance exercise
Exercise is one of the best ways to boost the natural secretion of both testosterone and GH.
Resistance exercise (training with weights) seems to be the most effective way to increase your testosterone levels, according to studies in men.
In the case of HGH, trials reveal that high-intensity exercises have the best effect. Cardio training does not appear to be effective in either HGH or T stimulation.
2. Sleep quality and quantity
Both HGH and T production peak during sleep or early in the morning. Thus it is no surprise that your sleep quality and quantity have a direct impact on their levels.
Evidence suggests that at least 7 hours of sleep is optimal for the natural T synthesis and each hour of missed sleep reduces T levels by 15% on average.
Sleep is important for HGH secretion as well. Trials in patients with chronic insomnia report that most of the patients had their GH levels drop down to undetectable levels.
3. Optimal body fat
Maintaining optimal body weight is crucial for a healthy hormonal balance. For example, obesity blunts HGH and IGF-1 levels while losing the extra weight restores normal secretion.
Higher body weight correlates with lower testosterone levels in obese men
On the other hand, extremely low body fat percentage also has a negative impact on testosterone production, so make sure to stay in the healthy recommendations for adult men – 8-19%, and 10-30% for women.
4. Nutrition and dietary supplements
Testosterone is synthesized from fat and cholesterol, so adequate fat intake is important for normal T levels.
Monounsaturated fats sources such as olive oil appear to be both healthy and beneficial for testosterone levels
Sources of vitamin D and zinc might increase testosterone levels in men who were otherwise deficient in these nutrients. Those can be either supplements or foods such as oysters, fish, eggs, etc.