Last updated on November 22nd, 2023 at 09:29 am
The question of whether do ice baths increase testosterone has become a hot topic, especially given the increasing trend in wellness circles around cold exposure therapies.
With conflicting studies and anecdotal evidence abounding, let's dive into a detailed exploration of the relationship between ice baths, cold exposure, and testosterone levels.
Do Ice Baths Increase Testosterone: What The Science Says
The science surrounding cold exposure is mainly focused on elite male athletes, offering a somewhat skewed perspective.
Studies suggest that cold water immersion, often used for rapid recovery post-workout, could actually reduce testosterone levels in young men (Earp et al. 2019). This is in direct contradiction with personal anecdotes that suggest a significant boost in testosterone production from ice baths.
Anecdotal Evidence: A Personal Story From the Founders of Morozko Forge
While scientific research on the subject of ice baths and testosterone levels is still emerging, some compelling anecdotal evidence suggests that cold plunging might have a substantial effect on boosting testosterone levels.
At the age of 52, Seager had his testosterone levels measured and found them to be at 768 ng/dL. Curious about the potential benefits of consistent cold plunging, he integrated this practice into his daily routine.
Astonishingly, upon subsequent testing, his levels had soared to 1180 ng/dL—a remarkable 53% increase.
This is particularly impressive given that testosterone levels typically decline with age. Seager's results challenge conventional wisdom and suggest that cold plunging might have benefits that are yet to be fully understood.
However, Seager is not alone in experiencing these effects within the Morozko Forge community. The other co-founder of Morozko Forge, Jason Stauffer, also saw significant changes in his testosterone levels over a period of consistent cold plunging. Here were his results:
At age 40: Total testosterone was 550 ng/dL and Free testosterone was 72.8 pg/mL.
At age 41: Total testosterone had increased to 715 ng/dL, and Free testosterone was at 92.7 pg/mL.
At age 42: Total testosterone reached a peak of 913 ng/dL, with Free testosterone at a substantial 154.8 pg/mL.
This amounted to a 66% increase in Stauffer's total testosterone levels over a span of just two years.
These personal experiences, although not a substitute for controlled scientific studies, do offer intriguing support for the potential benefits of cold plunging.
Since realeasing their personal findings, they have had an influx of people reaching out to them claiming that they've had similar results. Here's one of the examples he shared in his blog post that a 66-year-old reader sent him:
Both Seager and Stauffer's cases invite more rigorous examination into how cold exposure therapies like ice baths might affect testosterone levels and other aspects of human health.
Deliberate Cold Exposure in Athletes
A few athletes practice what they term "deliberate cold exposure" before an exercise session. For instance, a Japanese study (Sakamoto et al. 1991) showed that cold stimulation before cycling resulted in increased testosterone levels in male athletes.
Additionally, rugby players who engaged in whole-body-cryotherapy before exercise noticed an increase in serum testosterone (Partridge et al. 2022).
What About Older Men?
Older men also report benefits from cold exposure. Bloggers in the wellness space share anecdotes of testosterone levels boosting from 700 ng/dL to 1200 ng/dL with regular ice baths combined with rewarming exercises. This is striking, given that testosterone levels usually decline with age.
Cold Showers vs. Ice Baths
Cold Showers: A Less Intense Option
While ice baths offer an extreme form of cold exposure, taking cold showers is a more accessible method.
Although fewer studies focus explicitly on cold showers, they share many physiological mechanisms with ice baths, like potentially raising luteinizing hormone, which is crucial for testosterone production.
Cold Showers Raise Testosterone: Myth or Reality?
The question here is: do cold showers raise testosterone in the same way that ice baths do? Again, while anecdotal evidence suggests that cold showers increase testosterone, scientific research primarily on cold water immersion doesn't fully support this claim.
Taking Cold Showers for Other Health Benefits
Aside from potentially affecting testosterone levels, taking cold showers has been claimed to improve sperm quality, boost the immune system, and even aid in weight loss. However, like the testosterone debate, scientific backing is limited.
Women and Testosterone: An Untapped Research Field
In women, the dominant hormone is also testosterone. However, because women's ovaries are less susceptible to temperature changes compared to men's testes, it's challenging to conclude that ice baths or cold showers would affect them similarly.
Mental Health and Routine Blood Tests
While routine blood tests may provide a snapshot of testosterone levels, they are not comprehensive. And let's not forget, testosterone levels significantly impact mental health, which is yet another reason why both men and women should pay attention to them.
Hot Showers vs. Cold Showers: Impact on Sperm Quality and Count
It's often recommended for men looking to improve sperm quality to avoid hot showers. Hot showers are thought to negatively affect both sperm production and sperm count, although more research is needed.
Cold Therapy and Health Conditions
Cold Exposure and Prostate Cancer
Some reports have indicated that cold therapy, specifically ice baths, can inhibit tumor growth, offering potential benefits for prostate cancer patients. However, it's essential to approach this claim cautiously until more rigorous scientific studies are conducted.
Impact on the Immune System and Weight Loss
Cold exposure, whether through cold showers or ice baths, is also often claimed to boost the immune system and aid in weight loss. However, like many of the potential benefits, scientific evidence is lacking.
Conclusion: Do Ice Baths Increase Testosterone
The relationship between cold exposure, specifically ice baths, and testosterone levels remains a complex topic with inconclusive scientific evidence - yet very strong anecdotal evidence.
So, do ice baths increase testosterone?
While personal testimonials and smaller studies hint at a positive relationship, especially in boosting testosterone production, the broader scientific community remains sceptical.
Until more diverse and robust studies become available, it's best for individuals to monitor their testosterone levels for themselves and see what results transpire.
Note: The information presented is based on available research and anecdotal evidence as of the time of writing. Always consult healthcare providers for medical advice.