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Testosterone Recovery Time: Everything You Need to Know

How long does it take to recover? Explore factors affecting testosterone recovery to optimize it

Daniesha Govender
By Daniesha Govender
Caitlin Snethlage
Edited by Caitlin Snethlage

Published June 20, 2024.

A man running on a road with his arm in the air.

Men pursuing peak performance and vitality often lack clarity around testosterone recovery time—the period required for this vital hormone to replenish after intense training, competitions, or medical treatments.

This knowledge gap has left athletes, bodybuilders, and patients struggling with depleted testosterone and compromised well-being. Outdated assumptions that recovery is swift may have also led many to overtax their bodies, jeopardizing long-term hormonal health.

For those pushing their bodies to the limit, there could be many forces undermining their efforts.

» Want to take charge of your health? Discover your unique health profile, including testosterone levels with Inside Tracker's Ultimate Plan

Key takeaways

  • Testosterone recovery is the process of restoring healthy testosterone levels after an abrupt decline.
  • Stress, poor sleep, certain medical treatments, and some medications can all contribute to low levels.
  • Exercise, prioritizing sleep, managing stress, and a balanced diet can support natural recovery.
  • Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) is an option but requires monitoring due to potential side effects.
  • This varies depending on age, severity of symptoms, and treatment approach.

Mechanisms behind testosterone recovery

Testosterone recovery is a process where the body employs feedback mechanisms to return the hormone to normal levels. This is a necessary process for muscle mass and bone density. [1,2]

The hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal (HPG) axis plays a well-established role in testosterone balance. [3] First, the hypothalamus sets off gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) in a pulsating pattern. [4]

Then, the anterior pituitary gland responds to GnRH by releasing luteinizing hormone into the bloodstream. It acts as a messenger, carrying the signal from the hypothalamus to the testes where it binds to receptors on Leydig cells to produce testosterone.

Finally, testosterone feeds back to the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, inhibiting their secretion of GnRH and LH. This feedback loop helps maintain its balance within the system.

Note: This coordinated interaction between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, Leydig cells, and testosterone production highlights the critical role of the HPG axis in regulating male sexual function and hormone balance. [5]

» Discover more about the science behind testosterone biomarkers

Factors causing low testosterone

Several factors can influence testosterone levels in the body. Here's a closer look at some key lifestyle contributors:


When stressed, our bodies produce more cortisol that can throw off our hormonal balance and decrease testosterone production. If the process becomes chronic, it disrupts the HPG axis, leading to a further decline. [6]

» Is the stress of overtraining causing low testosterone levels?

Sleep and diet

Studies have shown that adequate sleep is crucial for testosterone production. Healthy young men who slept less than eight hours a night for a week had lower levels of the hormone. [7] Disrupted circadian rhythms and sleep-apnea might also have an effect, but we need more research to confirm the claims. [8]

» Try these simple habits to get more sleep

On the other hand, a diet high in sugar can also hinder recovery by causing insulin resistance and inflammation. [9]

Medical treatment

Clinicians use androgen deprivation therapy to treat prostate cancer because the malignant cells rely on testosterone to grow. The method works through substances—which we call agonists and antagonists—that micic GnRH or prevent its effects

Many doctors use this approach to treat other conditions, such as:

  • Secondary polycythemia: GnRH agonists or antagonists prevent blood clots by lowering testosterone and excess RBC production, caused chronic low oxygen, hormone imbalances, heart problems, or even athletic doping. [10]
  • Gender-affirming therapy: In this therapy for transgender women, androgen deprivation therapy achieves desired physical changes by suppressing male features through lower testosterone levels. [11]
  • Severe acne and hirsutism: For women with high androgens experiencing severe, treatment-resistant acne and excessive hair growth, this approach can be a last resort. It targets the hormonal imbalance by lowering androgen production or blocking its effects. [12]

» See why females should also care about testosterone

What happens if testosterone can't recover?

Consistently low levels can trigger a cascade of health problems. It can have the following impacts:

  • Bone density: Reduced bone density increases fracture risk and osteoporosis, leading to fatigue and decreased physical performance.
  • Cardiovascular: Low testosterone is linked to a higher risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and worse outcomes in heart failure. Conversely, higher levels and therapy are associated with reduced cardiovascular risk and improved outcomes. [13]
  • Mental health: Lower levels of this hormone are also associated with cognitive decline, memory problems, and a lack of mental clarity. [14]
  • Emotional health: Mood swings, irritability, depression, and reduced libido can significantly decrease quality of life and increase the risk of chronic diseases. [15]

» Protect your healthspan with optimal bone mineral density

Impact varies by age

  • Younger men: Symptoms often present in physical and sexual development. These include delayed puberty, reduced muscle mass, impaired sexual function, concentration difficulties, and mood changes like depression. [16]
  • Older adults: The decline in testosterone is gradual, potentially worsening age-related conditions like osteoporosis, muscle weakness, cognitive decline, and increasing body fat. [17]
Five signs of low testosterone in men

» Seeking balance? Discover why testosterone to cortisol ratio matters

Medical interventions to treat low testosterone

1. Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT)

This approach involves administering synthetic testosterone to restore normal levels. Clinicians deliver via injections, patches, gels, or tablets. [18] Dosage is highly individualized, considering baseline testosterone, age, weight, symptoms, and underlying health conditions.

Long-term use requires careful monitoring due to potential risks, including cardiovascular issues, prostate health, elevated hematocrit levels, liver effects, mood changes, and metabolic impacts. [19]

2. Clomiphene citrate (CC)

CC, a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM), acts on the hypothalamus to stimulate natural testosterone production. It triggers the release of GnRH, prompting the pituitary gland to secrete luteinizing and follicle-stimulating hormone.

Many clinicians often use CC to treat hypogonadism in men, effectively boosting endogenous testosterone production [20]. Studies suggest it's a safe and effective therapy for hypogonadism, improving symptoms and biochemical markers with minimal side effects [21].

» Check out this easy way to use blood test results from your doctor

3. Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)

hCG works by mimicking the action of luteinizing hormone, which stimulates the testes to produce testosterone. This method is particularly effective in restoring natural testosterone production in men undergoing fertility treatments. [22]

One study found that combining hCG with CC significantly improved testosterone levels and sperm parameters in men with hypogonadism. [23]

Natural ways to speed up testosterone recovery

Specific lifestyle changes can promote well-being and create an environment conducive to healthy testosterone levels.

1. Get more exercise

  • Resistance training: Lifting weights with challenging intensity (heavy enough to make the last few reps difficult) promotes muscle growth, directly stimulating testosterone production. [24]
  • High-intensity interval training (HIIT): Short bursts of intense activity followed by recovery periods may also boost testosterone, as some research suggests. [25]
  • Aerobic exercise: While not directly spiking testosterone, activities like running, cycling, and swimming improve overall health and fitness, which can indirectly support testosterone production by reducing body fat. [26]

» Exercise doesn't only influence testosterone. Learn more about its impact on other biomarkers

2. Manage your stress

Chronic stress elevates can suppress testosterone production. Techniques like yoga, meditation, and regular physical activity can be powerful tools to manage stress and promote healthy testosterone levels. [27][28][29]

It's important to acknowledge that research on the direct link between mindfulness practices and testosterone-induced muscle recovery is still emerging, and its effectiveness compared to established methods like exercise needs further investigation.

» Want to naturally boost testosterone? Use these science-backed strategies

Bonus tips

  • Prioritize sleep: Aim for 7–8 hours of quality sleep each night. During sleep, the body produces testosterone. Insufficient sleep can disrupt this natural cycle and hinder testosterone production. [30]
  • Manage weight: Losing excess weight, particularly belly fat, can significantly improve testosterone levels. Belly fat produces an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen.
  • Focus on diet: Maintain a balanced diet rich in zinc and vitamin D, protein, healthy fats, and essential nutrients to support testosterone production. [31] Limit processed foods and added sugars, which can negatively impact hormone balance.

A study showed that American men on low-fat diets had significantly lower testosterone levels compared to those on unrestricted diets, even accounting for age, weight, activity, and health factors. Similarly, men following Mediterranean diets had lower testosterone levels. [32]

» Optimize your Vitamin D levels with these tips

How long does it take to recover testosterone?

Recovering from low testosterone depends on several factors, impacting both natural and recovery with treatment (TRT). These can be:

  • Age: Younger men generally experience a faster and more complete recovery compared to older men than older men whose bodies may have had lower testosterone levels for a more extended period. [33]
  • Duration of low testosterone: The shorter the period of low testosterone, the quicker your body can bounce back and resume average hormone production.
  • Severity of symptoms: Men experiencing severe symptoms like fatigue, low libido, and erectile dysfunction may take longer to see a complete resolution of these issues as testosterone levels rise.
A promising sign of recovery is improvement in symptoms. For example, older men might notice better sexual function and mood as their testosterone levels rise. [34]

» Exhausted after a workout? Find out how food can help you recover

Speeding up recovery with treatment

While treatment can significantly accelerate testosterone recovery, individual factors still influence the timeline:

  1. Individual response: Genetics, age, and overall health play a role. Men with certain genetic predispositions or underlying health conditions may respond differently.
  2. Duration: Longer treatment durations allow your body to adjust to consistent testosterone levels, leading to more stable and sustained improvements.
  3. Pre-existing levels: Men with deficient starting testosterone levels below 300 ng/dL may see a faster initial response. Careful monitoring is crucial to avoid exceeding optimal levels, which can lead to side effects like heart problems and mood swings.
  4. Lifestyle choices: Diet, exercise, sleep, and stress management significantly impact how well your body uses testosterone and how quickly you recover. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle optimizes the effectiveness of treatment.

» Understand your hunger and improve your relationship with food

Stopping TRT can lead to temporary withdrawal symptoms like mood swings, fatigue, and worsened sexual function, although research limitations exist regarding the long-term effects [35]. Men with pre-existing health conditions like obesity or diabetes may experience more severe symptoms, including:

  • Physical: Fatigue, decreased libido, worsened blood sugar control, and increased fracture risk.
  • Mental: Depression, mood swings, and irritability.
  • Sleep: Worsened sleep apnea symptoms. [36]

Taping off TRT gradually under medical supervision is essential to reducing these effects. This lets your body resume natural testosterone production at a controlled pace. Monitoring hormone levels during this process also ensures a smooth transition.

» Vegetarian or not, discover why beans are a must on your plate

Take control of your testosterone

Testosterone often gets associated with building muscle mass. But, it plays a much more nuanced role in the body, with far-reaching effects. In fact, low testosterone levels can have significant consequences and negatively impact quality of life.

Here's where InsideTracker helps, empowering you to take charge of your testosterone health. It identifies factors influencing your levels, like vitamin D deficiency, sleep issues, or stress. Based on this data, it provides tailored recommendation, like dietary and lifestyle tweaks.

Inside tracker also lets you track your testosterone levels over time, helping you monitor the effectiveness of any changes or treatments you implement. This empowers you to see the big picture and make informed decisions about your health.

» Are you tired of feeling tired? InsideTracker can help you manage testosterone and boost overall health

Note: The information provided by this article is for informational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition. You should consult a licensed physician to diagnose and treat medical conditions.