Start your free visit for ED treatment. Learn more

Mar 03, 2022
4 min read

Clomid for men: what are the side effects?

Clomid (also known as clomiphene) can be used to treat low testosterone in men. Some people prefer it to testosterone therapy because it boosts testosterone levels without harming fertility. The most common side effects of clomiphene include headache, mood changes, and chest tenderness.

felix gussone

Reviewed by Felix Gussone, MD

Written by Cale Li, MD

Disclaimer

If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Low testosterone is a problem for many people. However, some of the treatments for it (like testosterone therapy) can lead to side effects like infertility. Clomid is one option to treat low testosterone while preserving fertility. 

Get a semen analysis report in 48 hours

Ro’s at-home Sperm Kit is a fast and easy way to test your semen—and safely store sperm.

Learn more

Clomid uses for men

Testosterone levels decrease naturally with age. Signs and symptoms of low testosterone include decreased libido, erectile dysfunction (ED), fatigue, and muscle weakness. 

If you’ve experienced low T, you may have heard of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) as a treatment option. While effective, there is one potential downside: TRT can have adverse impacts on male fertility. That’s why some people opt for another alternative like clomiphene (brand name Clomid). 

Clomid is a drug originally developed to treat infertility in women but is sometimes used off-label to treat low T in men. This means it’s not specifically approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for this purpose, though many healthcare providers will prescribe it to improve low T and low sperm motility

Clomid uses for women

This drug was originally designed to help women trying to get pregnant. Clomiphene works by increasing the hormone estrogen to trigger ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovaries). 

Clomiphene therapy usually leads to pregnancy in 30–40% of people with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), ovulatory dysfunction, and female infertility issues.

Side effects of Clomid

Common side effects people reported while taking Clomid include (Krzastek, 2019):

  • Mood changes
  • Breast tenderness
  • Blurry vision
  • Weight gain
  • Acne

Rarely, people will experience other adverse reactions like high blood pressure (hypertension), altered taste, asthma, flushing, nausea, feeling thirsty, and joint aches.

One study showed that Clomid is well tolerated over a three-year treatment period. It also found that Clomid helped the majority of participants to see symptoms improvement and reach normal testosterone levels after three years of therapy (Mbi Feh, 2021).

What is low testosterone? 

Low testosterone is a common condition that affects approximately 40% of men over age 45. Having low T can lead to a host of health problems like decreased muscle strength, low sex drive, and erectile dysfunction (Sizar, 2021). 

If you think you have low T, the only way to know for sure is to have your blood levels tested. Your healthcare provider may order blood tests to check what’s called your total and free testosterone levels. Since these are the highest in the morning, most providers will recommend checking your levels between 8–10 AM (Nassar, 2022). 

Testosterone replacement therapy 

A common treatment for low T is testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). In essence, TRT gives your body the testosterone it isn’t producing. TRT comes in several forms including testosterone injections, testosterone pellets, testosterone gels, and testosterone patches

While effective, TRT does have side effects. One major one is that it can harm sperm production and cause male infertility. That’s because over time, TRT shuts down your body’s natural production of sperm and testosterone (Patel, 2019). 

How does Clomid treat low T?

Clomid treatment works by tricking your brain into thinking there’s not enough testosterone in your system. Your body responds by ramping up its natural production of the hormone. This way you can increase low testosterone levels without harming your fertility (Krzastek, 2019).

Testicles are the factories that make testosterone, but your brain is in charge of managing the whole thing. When the brain senses that your body has enough testosterone, it shuts down the factory. However, sometimes its sensors are a bit off and it shuts down for the day even when testosterone levels aren’t quite where they should be. 

That’s where Clomid can help. When you take clomiphene, it encourages your brain to release two hormones: LH (luteinizing hormone) and FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone). These hormones tell the testicles when to ramp up testosterone production (Mbi Feh, 2021). 

Because Clomid doesn’t dull testosterone production like TRT, it maintains male fertility. Research also suggests clomiphene is safe and effective for treating low testosterone (Krzastek, 2019). 

How can I naturally boost testosterone?

In addition to medical interventions, some people pursue ways to naturally boost testosterone production. Research suggests exercise––like high-intensity interval training (HIIT)––or resistance training may lead to higher hormone levels (Riachy, 2020).

Sleep is the time when your body produces the most testosterone. If you’re not getting enough quality sleep (for example, if you have a condition like sleep apnea), your testosterone levels may drop. Aim to get 7–9 hours of sleep each night for your testosterone factories to work their best (Liu, 2019).

If you have more questions about male infertility or treatment with Clomid, a fertility specialist or healthcare provider can help you out.

References

  1. Krzastek, S. C., Sharma, D., Abdullah, N., et al. (2019). Long-Term Safety and Efficacy of Clomiphene Citrate for the Treatment of Hypogonadism. The Journal of Urology, 202(5), 1029–1035. doi: 10.1097/JU.0000000000000396. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31216250/ 
  2. Leproult, R. & Van Cauter, E. (2011). Effect of 1 week of sleep restriction on testosterone levels in young healthy men. Journal of the American Medical Association, 305(21), 2173–2174. doi: 10.1001/jama.2011.710. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21632481/ 
  3. Liu, P. Y. (2019). A clinical perspective of sleep and andrological health: assessment, treatment considerations, and future research. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 104(10), 4398–4417. doi:10.1210/jc.2019-00683. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31042277
  4. Mbi Feh, M. K. & Wadhwa, R. (2021). Clomiphene. StatPearls. Retrieved on Jan. 16, 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559292/
  5. Muthusami, K. R. & Chinnaswamy, P. (2005). Effect of chronic alcoholism on male fertility hormones and semen quality. Fertility and Sterility, 84(4), 919–924. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2005.04.025. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16213844/ 
  6. Nassar, G. N. & Leslie, S. W. (2022). Physiology, testosterone. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526128/
  7. Patel, A. S., Leong, J. Y., Ramos, L., & Ramasamy, R. (2019). Testosterone Is a Contraceptive and Should Not Be Used in Men Who Desire Fertility. The World Journal of Men’s Health, 37(1), 45–54. doi:10.5534/wjmh.180036. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6305868/
  8. Riachy, R., McKinney, K., & Tuvdendorj, D. R. (2020). Various factors may modulate the effect of exercise on testosterone levels in men. Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology, 5(4), 81. doi:10.3390/jfmk5040081. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7739287/.
  9. Rivas, A. M., Mulkey, Z., Lado-Abeal, J., & Yarbrough, S. (2014). Diagnosing and managing low serum testosterone. Proceedings, 27(4), 321–324. doi: 10.1080/08998280.2014.11929145. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4255853/ 
  10. Sizar, O. & Schwartz, J. (2021). Hypogonadism. StatPearls. Retrieved on Jan. 16, 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532933/
  11. Sato, K., Iemitsu, M., Katayama, K., et al. (2016). Responses of sex steroid hormones to different intensities of exercise in endurance athletes. Experimental Physiology, 101(1), 168–175. doi: 10.1113/EP085361. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26518151/ 
  12. Wheeler, K. M., Sharma, D., Kavoussi, P. K., Smith, R. P., & Costabile, R. (2019). Clomiphene citrate for the treatment of hypogonadism. Sexual Medicine Reviews, 7(2), 272–276. doi: 10.1016/j.sxmr.2018.10.001. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30522888/