Fox News host Tucker Carlson recently interviewed personal trainer Andrew McGovern, who advocates for the use of red light therapy to increase testosterone levels in men as part of his “Tucker Carlson Originals” series.
During the interview, Carlson refers to red light therapy as “testicle tanning,” a phrase shared widely on social media platforms like Twitter. This comes as Carlson is promoting his documentary “The End of Men,” which states that decreasing testosterone levels in men is a problem in the U.S.
A urologist said later in a viral tweet that there is “absolutely no data on testicle tanning,” adding that it doesn’t stimulate the production of testosterone.
No, red light therapy isn’t a medically approved treatment for increasing testosterone levels.
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Red light therapy is often promoted as a treatment for common skin woes, such as stretch marks, scars, acne and others, along with improving hair growth and reducing inflammation. Cleveland Clinic says red light therapy, which is also known as low-level laser light therapy and low-power laser therapy among other names, is an “emerging therapy but holds a lot of promise.”
During red light therapy, you expose your skin to a lamp, device or laser with a red light. It’s thought to work by acting on the “power plant” in your body’s cells called mitochondria. With more energy, cells can work more efficiently to do things like repairing a person’s skin.
But red light therapy isn’t approved as a medical treatment for increasing testosterone levels – and many experts don’t recommend it.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved oral testosterone capsules like Jatenzo as a treatment for men with low testosterone levels due to certain medical conditions.
According to men’s health website prostate.net, the FDA hasn’t approved any light therapy devices to increase testosterone production. There are red light therapy devices available online that don’t need FDA clearance, but they aren’t meant for raising testosterone.
One medical professional who spoke to VERIFY said red light therapy could do more harm to testosterone levels than good.
“The risks of it come with temperature changes as you elevate the temperature of the scrotum. If there is a temperature increase, sperm production will diminish, testosterone production will diminish, so there's that potential,” said Amin Herati, M.D., director of male infertility and men’s health at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Additionally, there is “absolutely no controlled study” that proves red light therapy increases testosterone, Adam Friedman, M.D., professor and chair of dermatology at The George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, said. The science is “just simply not there.”