Creatine is one of the most popular fitness supplements out there. Although it’s something you’ll commonly find in many muscle-building supplement regimens, most people aren’t fully aware of all of the benefits of creatine.
In fact, creatine has benefits both inside and outside of the gym. One that often raises questions is how creatine may affect men sexually.
In this article, we’ll deep dive into how it works.
Why do People Take Creatine?
Creatine’s main function has to do with energy production in the body. Basically, it helps your body speed up energy production. This is helpful during workouts, because just as you would usually start to fatigue, creatine facilitates a boost of energy. This benefit is particularly noticeable for anyone doing a high-intensity workout like sprints.
People also take creatine to enhance muscle building. Creatine raises the muscle-building hormone IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1), and it brings water into the muscle to promote more growth. During muscle repair following a workout, creatine plays a role in cell signaling to build more muscle while also preventing some protein breakdown.
Outside of the gym, creatine is known to help with focus and productivity.
While creatine is helping the cells create more energy for the muscles, it’s also helping brain cells create more energy.
Studies have shown that creatine supplementation can benefit the brain in many ways, including cognitive performance, recovery from traumatic brain injury, and improved symptoms of neurological diseases.
How Creatine Works in the Body
Your body produces its own creatine using amino acids glycine, arginine, and methionine. In fact, it’s possible for your body to fill up to 80% of its creatine stores, with the help of a protein-rich diet, or a creatine monohydrate powder supplement.
Creatine bonds to a phosphate group to form creatine phosphate, where it’s stored in the muscle until it’s used in the cycle to make energy. The key player in this cycle is adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which fuels nearly every process in the body.
In the cycle, ATP loses a phosphate every time it’s used for energy and becomes ADP (adenosine diphosphate), which basically sits around and waits to be converted back into ATP.
Creatine phosphate donates phosphate to make this happen, so your body can produce more energy.
Does Creatine Help Sexually?
When creatine enhances energy production, it benefits the entire body. Therefore, one slightly lesser known potential benefit of supplementing creatine has to do with sexual health.
The Link between Creatine and Testosterone
Testosterone levels commonly start decreasing for men once they hit the age of thirty. With this decrease in testosterone, many men notice decreased:
- Mental sharpness
- Overall energy
- And sex drive
Testosterone is a hormone that regulates sex drive. Therefore, a significant decrease is known to cause decreased sexual desire, and even erectile dysfunction.
However, studies have shown that taking creatine can increase testosterone levels.
One study examined the effects of taking a creatine supplement for the duration of a 10-week resistance training program. Combined with a placebo group, the group of participants taking a creatine supplement experienced greater strength improvements as well as increased testosterone concentrations.
Another study involving male rugby players looked into creatine supplementation and levels of DHT, the more active form of testosterone. After creatine loading with 25 grams per day for 7 days, the participants’ DHT levels increased by 56%.
Some men who experience drops in testosterone due to age choose to wear a patch or get injections. Supplementing may be a simpler, much less expensive solution.
Are There Downsides to Taking Creatine?
There was a time when the safety of taking creatine for too long was in question. But several studies have found that taking up to 30 grams per day for up to 5 years is perfectly safe.
That being said, there are potential side effects with every supplement you take. It all depends on the person taking the supplement and the quality of the supplement they choose. Some side effects that people experience while using creatine include:
- Weight gain
- Water retention
- Gastrointestinal discomfort
However, these side effects are fairly uncommon. It’s also important to consider that some side effects could be caused by unnecessary additives in the supplement.
For example, many creatine supplements are flavored with artificial ingredients and sweeteners. These ingredients are known to cause issues such as bloating and diarrhea for some people. Choosing a high-quality creatine supplement that is formulated without additives is one of the best ways to avoid unwanted side effects.
Since creatine is known to amplify energy production, taking a supplement is mostly credited with benefits that have to do with strength and muscle building.
However, creatine offers benefits outside of the gym as well. When creatine facilitates more energy production, that energy goes to processes all over the body and therefore improves cognitive function, productivity, and hormone regulation.
Improved hormone regulation is especially beneficial for men who have lowered testosterone levels due to age or other conditions.
Taking a creatine supplement may increase testosterone, which can improve sex drive or more serious issues like erectile dysfunction. A supplement is likely much cheaper and more simple to use than other methods to increase testosterone like a patch or injection.