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Normal testosterone production is about six milligrams per day. One supplement manufacturer claims that 100 mg of oral androstenedione daily will increase levels of testosterone by 211 percent; another's estimate is 337 percent. Using the more generous figure, this would theoretically boost testosterone to 26 mg. However, the supplemental hormone production would in all likelihood shut off your body's natural output.

You would then be getting 20 mg of testosterone, assuming a high rate of conversion (which isn't likely). If you're already healthy and producing normal amounts of hormones, a 20 mg boost will have little -- if any -- muscle-producing effect.

Despite the hype, the science on andro is weak and indicates no benefits for younger guys. Only a few studies on androstenedione and its conversion to testosterone in humans exist, and they mention nothing about muscle growth.

A kinder, hornier andro

Not surprisingly, the best use for this sex hormone may be to improve sexual desire and male sexual performance, says Carlon M. Colker, M.D., author of the book Sex Pills A to Z. "Androstenedione's effects on muscle mass have been exaggerated, but it can be taken before sexual intercourse, which would briefly increase androgen levels," claims Colker, who recommends using it about one hour before sliding into home.

Hormone levels drop with age, so men over 35 are the group most likely to reap the sexual-function rewards of andro. "For guys in their mid- to late 30s, taking 100 milligrams occasionally before sex can enhance mood as well as sexual potency," states Colker. "I don't recommend that younger men take it because of the possibility of throwing their otherwise normal physiology off-kilter." There is still the possibility that andro, once taken, will develop into estrogen or DHT, but if it's used only occasionally, the risks of potential side effects may be minimized.

Andro is believed to augment the sex drive, not replace it. However, a low sex drive and subsequent diminished desire for sex over prolonged periods could indicate a larger health problem, such as depression, circulatory problems, diabetes or heart disease. If you have any type of ongoing erectile dysfunction, check with your doctor.

The bottom line? If you're healthy, you already produce enough testosterone to support muscle growth. Even if you're just looking for a boost in the bedroom, try a blood-pumping workout instead. It's cheaper, it's better for you, and it improves the quality of your erections. Best of all, your woman won't get mad at you for ending up with breasts two sizes larger than hers.

Drew Voight

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