From a biological perspective, testosterone is what makes a man a man. But women produce the hormone too, and it's an important element of overall health for both sexes.
Testosterone production increases during puberty and then begins to decline around the age of 30. A gradual decline is a normal part of aging, but this decline can bring about some unwanted side effects, especially if testosterone levels drop abnormally. Using red light therapy for testosterone could be a way to support your body in restoring normal testosterone levels, and in the process, getting your zest and vitality back.
Why You May Want to Increase Your Testosterone
Testosterone is the primary sex hormone that’s responsible for men’s ability to perform sexually and to reproduce. Its secondary effects on men include deeper voices, facial hair, and denser, more pronounced muscle and bone mass.
Low testosterone can interfere with primary sexual functioning as well as secondary characteristics, all of which can lead to psychological distress.
In women, testosterone is a necessary component of well-being, contributing to bone health, reproductive health, mental focus, and physical energy. Women produce small amounts of testosterone in the ovaries, adrenal glands, fat cells, and skin cells.
As with men, women can suffer from the effects of low testosterone. While it's not as commonly talked about, it can nevertheless be problematic for women.
The American Urology Association acknowledges that a gradual decline in testosterone production is a normal part of aging. The group says, however, that about two out of every 100 men have abnormally low testosterone (known as Low T).
Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with Low T, you may wish to increase your body’s natural ability to produce testosterone if you’re having troubles with:
- Reduced muscle mass and weight gain (particularly excess belly fat);
- Low energy levels, diminished strength, poor endurance, and poor physical performance;
- Low sex drive and poor sexual satisfaction;
- Reduced bone mass, which can lead to osteoporosis and increased risk of fractures;
- Erectile dysfunction;
- Insomnia and sleep apnea, leading to increased daytime fatigue;
- Mood swings, irritability, and depression;
- Lack of mental focus/brain fog;
- Hot flashes: Low T is one cause of hot flashes in men with andropause (male menopause);
- Infertility: Low T can lead to testicular shrinkage and increased softness of the scrotum, both of which could be an indication of reduced sperm counts.
Low testosterone could be a contributing factor in these symptoms, but other factors are often involved as well. Many could have causes other than Low T, such as stress, poor lifestyle habits, and chronic underlying conditions. Therefore, it’s important to consult a doctor before trying to increase your testosterone levels on your own.
If your symptoms are mild, you may not feel the need to do anything about it right now. But if you’ve been feeling older than your years, you don't have the sex drive you once had, and you lack your former energy levels, there are ways to boost testosterone naturally and safely.
Red Light Therapy for Testosterone
Research suggests that there is a direct correlation between natural sunlight exposure and the body’s ability to produce testosterone. Humans are highly responsive to light, and increasing exposure to light has proved to spark positive biological processes in the body.
The key is using the right types of light.
Natural bright light therapy from sunlight has been used for centuries to treat a wide variety of physical and psychological ailments. Today, bright light may be delivered via artificial full-spectrum lights.
Bright light therapy is often used to treat seasonal depression, which is known as seasonal affective depressive disorder (SADD), as well as chronic (non-seasonal) depression, postpartum depression, acne, and other chronic skin conditions, pain, and as an immune system booster.
According to the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, low libido affects nearly 25 percent of men over age 40. During a 2016 study by the group, exposure to bright light increased sexual desire and satisfaction, as well as testosterone levels. Research had previously discovered seasonal fluctuations in libido, which prompted this study.
The challenge with natural sunlight or full-spectrum bright light devices is that in addition to beneficial wavelengths of light, the sun also emits harmful ultraviolet (UV) light that is known to cause premature aging of the skin, as well as skin cancer.
Blue light has been successfully used to treat acne since it is known to kill acne-causing bacteria on the skin.
Meanwhile, red light therapy uses isolated wavelengths of light, specifically red, which ranges from 630 to 660 nanometers (nm); and near-infrared (NIR), which ranges from 810 to 850 nm.
These wavelengths have been widely studied in conjunction with a variety of human health conditions. Although human clinical studies on the direct effects of red and NIR light wavelengths on testosterone are still in the early stages, the benefits of the therapy on both the male and female reproductive systems hold promise in its use in boosting testosterone levels.
Also called low-level light therapy (LLLT) or photobiomodulation (PBM), red light therapy wavelengths fall within what is known as the “therapeutic window” of light.
How Red Light Therapy Can Naturally Boost Testosterone
There are several mechanisms by which red light therapy can support your body in naturally boosting testosterone levels and potentially reversing testosterone abnormalities.
A 2013 study by researchers from Korea involved stimulating increased production of testosterone in male rats after treating them with a combination of red and NIR light, suggesting that red light could be an alternative treatment modality to conventional testosterone replacement therapy — which, even though it’s effective, can carry many unwanted side effects.
Here’s how red light therapy works to treat testosterone problems.
Increased Energy Production in the Cells
In men, red light stimulates energy production in the Leydig cells, which are the cells responsible for producing testosterone. Enhanced energy production in Leydig cells is believed to help naturally increase testosterone production and restore age-appropriate (or better) testosterone levels.
It’s not just the Leydig cells that benefit from increased energy production. Red light therapy has numerous benefits, the most important being the positive interaction between light photons and the mitochondria, which are the energy centers within cells.
But why is it important to boost cellular energy? Here’s where things get interesting because treating the cause of low cellular energy could potentially hold the answer to reversing Low T.
The mitochondria’s job is to convert raw materials into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the primary fuel for all the cells in the body. When cells are energized, they function optimally, repair themselves, and replicate.
But when mitochondria aren’t able to produce ATP (known as mitochondrial dysfunction), the cells suffer — and low-energy cells can’t do their jobs properly. In the case of the Leydig cells, if they don’t have enough energy, they may prioritize survival over their specialized functions.
Therefore, reversing mitochondrial dysfunction could hold the answer to many chronic health problems, including Low T.
A study published in a 2019 issue of Review of Optometry found that red light may have therapeutic value and even reverse the damage of mitochondrial function. Although this study was focused on eye care, the researchers’ discovery about red light and mitochondrial function was profound.
During an older University of California San Diego study (published in 2008), researchers confirmed that treatment with red and NIR light increased ATP production by mitochondria. In addition, the treatment positively influenced cellular homeostasis (optimal functioning under normal circumstances), as well as cell proliferation.
What this means for you: red light therapy (which includes both red and NIR wavelengths) can work from the inside-out, on a cellular level, to boost cellular performance. This could potentially have a ripple effect that normalizes the production of sex hormones, including testosterone.
As a side note, if you click on the links to read these studies, you may notice red light therapy referred to as “low-level laser therapy.” That’s because, in many clinical trials, researchers use lasers to deliver the red light. That is starting to change, however, as an increasing number of researchers are using LED devices. The wavelengths studied are the same; only the delivery is slightly different, with low-level laser therapy using “cold” lasers as opposed to a light-emitting diode (LED) light therapy device.
One of the potential causes of mitochondrial dysfunction is chronic inflammation. Here’s another area where red light therapy “shines.”
Dr. Michael Hamblin, one of the world’s top experts in red light therapy, wrote a paper in 2017 titled “Mechanisms and Applications of the Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Photobiomodulation.” In this paper, Hamblin outlines what is currently known about the effects of red light on chronic inflammation.
As he stated: “One of the most reproducible effects of PBM is an overall reduction in inflammation,” which suggests that red light therapy could reduce the inflammation that’s at the root of mitochondrial dysfunction.
Along with reducing inflammation, red light therapy may help the cells responsible for testosterone production (and in women, those responsible for producing female sex hormones) repair damage due to inflammation, and redirect their resources to their specialized functions.
A 2017 study focused on the effects of diabetic peripheral artery disease found that red light stimulated vasodilation in both healthy and diabetic blood vessels. This holds promise in treating not only diabetic vascular disease but any condition where poor circulation could be a contributing cause — such as erectile dysfunction.
Red light therapy has been shown to increase the production of endothelial cells, which make up the tiny capillaries that deliver blood and lymph throughout the body’s extremities, including the testicles.
Red light also appears to have a protective effect on red blood cells that are under stress due to oxidative stress, according to a 2018 study published in the Frontiers of Physiology.
What does this mean for you? Increasing circulation brings nutrients and oxygen to cells, and removes waste and toxins. The result is improved cellular health and improved functioning.
Erectile dysfunction is often due to poor blood flow, so this could be a welcome solution if you're suffering from ED or low sex drive as a result of sexual performance fears. Increasing circulation could be one way to boost sexual satisfaction.
While more studies are needed on the specific effects of red light therapy treatments on increasing testosterone levels, a huge body of peer-reviewed research shows promise in using red light to boost the body’s self-healing mechanisms, particularly when it comes to aging.
Improved Moods and Reduced Anxiety
Major depression and anxiety can result from Low T because of the lifestyle and relationship challenges that often accompany the condition. In this groundbreaking study by Harvard Medical School researchers, red light therapy successfully treated depression and anxiety.
Participants included ten patients with severe depression, nine of whom also had anxiety. After several treatments with near-infrared light, the patients experienced significant reductions in both depression and anxiety, without side effects.
Red light could potentially be used to treat depression and anxiety, thereby reducing stress. This is good news since stress is known to cause disturbances in the endocrine system, which governs hormone production and therefore testosterone levels.
Specific Benefits of Increased Testosterone Production — and How Red Light Can Help
Increasing the body’s natural testosterone production could have a positive ripple effect on your health. But whether the following symptoms are related to Low T or not, red light can help you find relief.
You may experience greater athletic performance (both men and women) as you restore normal physical energy and as you regain muscle mass and lose excess fat. You can also boost athletic performance by using red light therapy before and after exercise, to stimulate the muscles for exercise, recover faster, and help prevent injury. According to a 2016 clinical review co-authored by Hamblin, red light therapy may even give you an unfair advantage in sports.
You may experience improved mental and emotional functioning. The previously cited study relating to depression and anxiety is important: shining NIR light onto the forehead for a short time each day could help reduce stress-induced mental fog.
You may experience less severe menopause/andropause symptoms, including hot flashes. Red light therapy has been used successfully to treat thyroid issues. Hypothyroidism (low thyroid functioning) has been linked to more severe menopause symptoms. According to a 2007 study by Egyptian researchers, by treating hypothyroidism, these symptoms can ease up.
In 2018, a study by Brazilian researchers confirmed that red/NIR light has long-term positive effects on thyroid health.
The Effects of Red Light Therapy on Testicular Health and Fertility
One of the biggest concerns for those who suffer from Low T is infertility. Of course, no one wants to put their sexual or reproductive health on the line with a risky and unproven treatment. And you don’t have to when you treat Low T with red light therapy.
Red light therapy is considered to be a safe and completely natural therapy for normalizing testosterone levels. Most importantly, red light therapy used to increase sperm motility does not cause any damage to DNA, sperm, or the testes.
One study that confirmed this was conducted in 2017 by researchers at the University of California, San Diego. The researchers found that sperm exposed to 630 nm red light increased sperm swimming speed and force, which are functions correlated with improved reproductive success.
A smilar study by researchers from Iran found an increase in sperm motility after exposing sperm to an 830 nm NIR light device. Sperm motility is associated with cellular energy; more energized sperm will swim with greater vigor. This is a vital component of male reproductive health, and success in improving sperm motility points to the use of red light therapy as a way to treat male infertility.
Another male intertility study conducted in 2018 found that red and NIR light can improve sperm’s survival, motility, and speed.
As well, research in 2015 found an increase in sperm motility in men with asthenozoospermia, which is colloquially known as having “poor swimmers.” Men whose testes were exposed to red and near-infrared light showed a decreased ratio of immotile sperm to motile sperm. These findings indicate that red light therapy can safely and effectively improve sperm motility.
Also noteworthy is that red light therapy for testicles is believed to be a safe way to potentially boost sperm count as well as testosterone, which is made in the testicles. This is true not only because the wavelengths stimulate beneficial biological processes, but also because these wavelengths are perceived by the body as light, not heat.
Certain wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation (what we perceive as visible light) are considered safe for the human body. Invisible electromagnetic radiation, such as ultraviolet and far-infrared wavelengths, while therapeutic in small doses, come with risks of tissue damage.
For example, if you’ve ever used an infrared sauna, the far-infrared wavelengths are perceived by the body as heat, not light. In some cases, this can be used for therapeutic purposes, but only with great caution.
Heat is an enemy of the testicles (they’re outside the body to stay cool). Too much heat, whether from infrared radiation or any other source, can damage or kill sperm.
Visible red light, along with invisible NIR light, is a type of light therapy that has been shown to be safe for sperm because the body does not perceive these wavelengths as heat; thus, the wavelengths do not induce oxidative DNA damage.
This means you could conceivably increase your testosterone levels, recharge your sex drive, and enjoy healthy sperm if you’re looking to start a family.
Please note: You should not rely on increased testosterone levels alone to achieve these desired results, because optimal hormonal levels and hormonal balance don’t necessarily mean perfect health. A healthy lifestyle (good nutrition, exercise, stress management, and enough sleep) is still your best bet for optimal health and wellness. Any treatments for Low T or infertility must be supervised by a medical professional.
How to Use Red Light Therapy to Increase Testosterone
You can administer red and NIR light therapy to stimulate testosterone production in the comfort of your home using a high-quality, high-light-energy output LED therapy device.
Use A Powerful Light Therapy Device
You’ll get the best results if you use a device that has the power to “push” light photons deep into the body.
For targeted treatments, such as the testes, you could use a small panel such as the BIOMAX 300 from PlatinumLED Therapy Lights.
This portable LED panel delivers a powerful 150 mW/cm2 at 6 inches from the device. This number measures the irradiance level, meaning how much light is actually absorbed into your body’s tissues. Comparably sized devices on the market deliver far weaker irradiance.
The more light photons that can absorb into your cells, the faster and more profound the effects.
If you want to treat larger areas of the body and get the most value from an LED therapy device, consider the BIOMAX 900, which can deliver therapeutic red and NIR light to your whole body. If you want to boost athletic performance, treat chronic skin conditions, relieve neuropathy, or boost bone health, this is the panel for you.
Use The Best Light for Testosterone
For the best results in boosting testosterone, you’ll want to use a combination of red and NIR wavelengths at the same time. Not all light therapy devices give you this option.
Red wavelengths are shorter, which allows them to absorb into the skin. In terms of the testicles, the benefits of red light would include increased microcirculation for better overall testicular health.
NIR wavelengths are longer and penetrate deep into the body. The main benefits are reducing inflammation and boosting cellular energy in cells that red wavelengths can’t reach.
Only PlatinumLED BIOMAX light therapy devices contain a groundbreaking combination of five different red and NIR wavelengths: 630 nm, 660 nm, 810 nm, 830 nm, and 850 nm. This ensures comprehensive coverage and benefits that address various tissues from the surface to much deeper in the testicles in men and the ovaries in women.
Treatments can consist of just a few minutes a day, over several months. It’s important to give any cells that are struggling the chance to heal themselves and resume normal functioning. This can take weeks or months.
Since red light therapy has been proven safe for long-term use, you could continue the treatments several times a week indefinitely to maintain optimal cellular functioning.
Specific Tips: How Red Light Therapy Can Boost Testosterone In Men
Since several studies have established a linear relationship between cellular energy and spermatogenesis, it’s important to get the light deep into the testicles. Male testosterone is secreted by Leydig cells, which lie between the seminiferous tubules located just beneath the skin. NIR light can absorb into these tissues, and in the process, boost cellular energy.
Small amounts of male testosterone are also produced by the adrenal glands, which can also be treated by red and NIR wavelengths. Since they’re located on top of the kidneys, applying red light to the lower back will ensure that the adrenal glands receive the benefits of the treatment.
Specific Tips: How Red Light Therapy Can Boost Testosterone In Women
In women, testosterone is produced primarily in the ovaries and the adrenal glands, and both are accessible with red light therapy. Be sure to use the PlatinumLED BIOMAX series panels, which deliver a five-wavelength combination of red and NIR light to the body.
This natural light treatment is applied to bare skin (perfect after taking a shower). For treating the ovaries, stand in front of the panel so that your lower abdomen is about 6 inches from the device. For treating the adrenals, face away from the panel and aim the light at the lower back, again standing about 6 inches from the device.
Boosting Your Testosterone Naturally with Red Light Therapy
Whether you’re male or female, you don’t have to suffer from low testosterone. You can increase testosterone production naturally, which could solve many of your physiological challenges including poor sexual health, low sex drive, low energy, lost muscle mass and weight gain, and mental fog.
We invite you to browse our Learn page to discover the many other ways red light therapy can be used to enhance your health. You’ll learn how this natural treatment can help with hair regrowth, weight loss, skin health, pain, and many more amazing benefits.
And if you’re ready to get started with red light therapy at home to enjoy the benefits of higher testosterone, here’s a handy comparison chart that will help you choose the best device for your needs (scroll down to compare the panels side by side). You can also check out our blog post on which size panel may be best for you.