If Tucker Carlson told you to shine light on your balls, would you do it? Carlson might be right about using light to increase testosterone, but the evidence is a bit sparse.
Red light therapy is safe and possibly effective at raising testosterone levels. So using a red light therapy lamp the right way might help. I will show you how buy a red light, where to put it, and how long to expose yourself to it.
Men using red light therapy on the balls are reporting anecdotal tesosterone increases. Biohacker Ben Greenfield said red light therapy to the balls increased his testosterone levels. Red light therapy is safe, ultraviolet light from the sun is a trickier question. Ultraviolet light, however, is not a toy.
The One Factor You Must Get Right to Dose Your Balls in Red Light
Dosing is critical to getting the job done. Too little or too much light will ruin the experiment. I will show you some shortcuts to getting the dosage just right.
How to Use Any Device for Ball Therapy
I’m going to show you how to use any red light therapy device for the balls. I will give you a shortcut for figuring out your dosing distance and time per session. You’ll need a device with the right wavelengths, and you’ll need the “irradiance” from that device’s specifications.
Step 1: Get a Red and Infrared Device
The body is good at absorbing light in the 630 to 660 nm (nanometers) red range and 810 to 850 nm infrared range. Get a device that has a wavelength in each of these ranges.
Step 2: Get the Irradiance for the Longest Distance
The irradiance is how much photon energy the light delivers at a specific distance. The manufacturer will have one, two or three sample irradiances in the specifications. Get the one that has the longest distance. So if it offers you irradiance at zero, six and 12 inches. Get the value for the 12 inches.
The irradiance will be stated in milliwatts per squared centimeter at a given distance, so a specification might say something like this:
- 100 mW/cm^2 at 0 inches
- 80 mW/cm^2 at 6 inches
- 50 mW/cm^2 at 12 inches
The farthest distance is 12 inches, and our milliwatts are 50. 12 inches, 50 milliwatts. You’ll plug them into a formula to get your time per treatment.
Step 3: Plug the Info into the Red Light Therapy Dose Calculator
Based on the literature, we’re going for a testosterone dose of 5 joules per treatment. You now have everything you need to go to the calculator for your instructions.
- Distance: 12 inches
- Milliwatts/cm^2: 50
- Target Joules: 5
Enter the 50 in the Milliwatts field and the 5 in the Target Joules field in my red light therapy treatment time calculator. The calculator will hand you back the time per treatment. Note that the calculator takes a few seconds to load.
When you enter 50 milliwatts and 5 joules, the calculator hands you back 100 seconds treatment time. Yep, it’s that fast with a powerful device.
Therefore, you will place the device 12 inches from the balls, and you will run it for 100 seconds, in order to get a dose of 5 joules.
How to Do Red Light Therapy on the Balls: A Dosing Guide
The LightpathLED Pro Mini is a portable red light therapy handheld that runs on a rechargeable battery. It outputs 660 nm and 810 nm wavelengths, which are bioactive types of light. If you hold the Pro Mini at 3 inches from the target, you get 80 mW/cm^2 of photons per second. This is powerful, and you therefore need to be mindful of heat.
To get the dosing information for this lamp, find the irradiance value, which is the one we just mentioned. The irradiance is 80 mW/cm^2 at 3 inches. You can get that off the LightpathLED website.
Our target photon quantity is 5J (joules).
- Enter “5” for the target joules from the 5J target.
- Enter “80” for the milliwatts from the 80 mW/cm^2 at 3 inches irradiance.
- Go to the red light therapy treatment time calculator
The calculator reports that your treatment time is 62.5 seconds to get 5 joules while the light is 3 inches away.
That’s it. Literally 62.5 seconds, or a minute and 2 seconds. You are safe to go to 60 J, which is 12 times this treatment time.
5 joules x 12 = 60 joules (your dose range is 5 J to 60 J)
- Treatment time for 5 joules is 62.5 seconds, as we found above. To get 10 joules double the amount of time with the light. 62.5 seconds x 2 = 125 seconds (2 minutes 5 seconds).
- Treatment time for 20 joules is 4x our first calculation. 62.5 seconds x 4 = 250 seconds (4 minutes 10 seconds).
- Treatment time for 40 joules is 8x our first calculation. 62.5 seconds x 8 = 500 seconds (8 minutes 20 seconds).
- Treatment time for 60 joules is 12x our first calculation. 62.5 seconds x 12 = 750 seconds (12 minutes 30 seconds).
So your treatment time is 62.5 seconds for 5 joules, up to 12 minutes and 30 seconds for 60 joules.
The hardest part of this is keeping the light at 3 inches distance. It’s harder than it looks to hold a lamp steady for several minutes. You’ll be more comfortable putting it on a steady surface like the floor, and holding still. Use a ruler, it’s very easy to mis-estimate distance.
How to Do Red Light Therapy on the Balls with the Red Light Man Red-Infrared Combo Mini
The Red Light Man Combo Mini is another good light for this task. It outputs red light (620 nm, 670 nm) and infrared light (760 nm, 830 nm). The Red Light Man website says the bulb irradiance is 200 mW/cm^2 at 5 cm (200 milliwatts per square centimeters at a distance of 5 centimeters), or if you want to go 50 cm distance, then the irradiance changes to 20 mW/cm^2.
Choose the 50 cm, in order to get the lamp as far as reasonably possible away from your body. This is important to avoid the heat, as we only want photons of light and not the heat from the lamp.
First thing to do for Americans like me to is switch cm to inches. 50 cm is 19.69 inches, so let’s say 20 inches for the remainder of this tutorial.
Now use the calculator to find the time per session. The target joules is 5, the milliwatts is 20 (from the 20 mW/cm^2 at 50 cm).
The Combo Mini (click to view the bulb on Red Light Man’s website) is a bulb emitting 620 nm, 670 nm red and 760 nm and 830 nm infrared. The 760 nm is a bit of a question mark for our purposes, but it will do no harm. The page says the irradiance is 200 mW/cm^2 at 5 cm, and 20 mW/cm^2 at 50 cm. Since 50 is the greater of the two, we’ll take its milliwatts of 20 for our calculation.
Go to the calculator with the “5” for the target joules and “20” for the milliwatts at 50 cm. The calculator reports that your treatment time is 250 seconds, or 4.17 minutes to get 5 joules while the light is 50 cm away. By the way, 50 cm is 19.69 inches.
How to Do Red Light Therapy on the Balls with the Red Light Man Red-Infrared Combo Light
The Red-Infrared Combo Light is a tabletop from Red Light Man. The page says the irradiance is 200 mW/cm^2 at 15 cm, and 20 mW/cm^2 at 45 cm. Forty-five cm is 17.7 inches.
We already know how to get 5 joules at with an irradiance of 20 mW/cm^2, as that’s what we did above for the Combo Mini. This time, we’re using the same irradiance, but putting the lamp at a different distance.
Go the calculator to see that entering “5” joules and 20 milliwatts yields a treatment time is 250 seconds, or 4.17 minutes. Use the light at 45 cm/17.7 inches for 250 seconds.
How to Do Red Light Therapy on the Balls with the Red Light Man Combo Bodylight
The Combo Bodylight is Red Light Man’s red-infrared panel. It’s a massive 115 cm/45.2 inches tall. The page says the irradiance is 20 mW/cm^2 at 150 cm. We know from the other Red Light Man examples above that 20 milliwatts requires 250 seconds or 4.17 minutes to receive 5 joules. This time, the distance is 150 cm, or 59 inches distance.
Don’t have 59 inches (just shy of 5 ft. between you and your panel? Let’s do the calculation for the next distance listed: 100 mW/cm^2 at 20 cm. Twenty cm is 7.8 inches.
Go the calculator to see that entering “5” joules and 100 milliwatts yields a treatment time is 50 seconds, or 0.83 minutes. Use the light at 20 cm/7.8 inches for 50 seconds to get 5 joules.
Can Light Even Affect the Body?
Tucker Carlson told men to use sunlight and red light therapy to increase masculinity. It created interest and pushback, because people will ignore science just to get a dig in on someone they don’t like.
Red light therapy is well supported, but using it on the balls, not so much. Anecdotally, men are getting good results when they follow the guidelines of getting the right dose.
Rather than worrying about who gave the advice, let’s just look at the science to see if red light therapy can naturally increase testosterone.
Sunshine Helps the Body Make Vitamin D
The concept of shining light on the skin to create a healthy change might seem weird until you think about Vitamin D. We use the sun’s ultraviolet light to make a hormone-like vitamin that is critical to every aspect of our health. The sun! Not a food, or a supplement, but light triggers this essential process. We make vital compounds when exposed to the right kinds of light.
That vitamin-creating reaction only happens with a tiny sliver of the ultraviolet spectrum. If a wavelength is 280 billionths of a meter wide, the body does not create vitamin D. But if it’s 290 to 300 billionths of a meter wide, then the body DOES create vitamin D. So it’s only a very small slice of light that triggers the biological reaction.
That ultraviolet light that creates a life-affirming vitamin can also create a life destroying cancer. The universe is ironic. I’m just reporting the facts.
Red and Infrared Empower the Body’s Energy and Blood Flow
Unlike ultraviolet, red and infrared light exposure is safe. Certain wavelengths of these lights generate multiple healthy reactions at the mitochondrial (energy) and vascular (blood) levels.
There is evidence of growth factor and DNA healthy responses too, but the big ones are the flows of energy and blood.
These red and infrared wavelengths we use in red light therapy are also available from the sun. The best time to get healthy red and infrared is morning and evening. “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight, and Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning” is a poetic way to remember that infrared light shines differently depending on the weather conditions.
Most of the infrared range is outside our ability to see. But the warmth you feel through your clothing is the sun’s infrared wavelengths.
Rat Balls and Sperm Samples Say “This Might Just Work!”
Ben Greenfield said that shining red light at his balls boosted his tesosterone levels. Does the science support his story?
The 1939 Ultraviolet Rat Ball Study
In 1939, Myerson et. al. used ultraviolet to the chest or to the genitals of Wistar rats to increase andosterone. Ultraviolet light to the genitals produced more serum testosterone than ultraviolet light aimed at the chest. This supports the idea that ultraviolet from the sun increases testosterone levels.
The bad news is that ultraviolet is not a safe light. Red and infrared are safe, so let’s look at them.
Myerson, Abraham. Influence of Ultraviolet Irradiation Upon Excretion of Sex Hormones in the Mail. Journal of Endocrinology, 1939. https://doi.org/10.1210/endo-25-1-7
The 2019 Red and Infrared Light Rat Ball Study
In 2019, Ahn et. al. irradiated rat genitals with 360 joules of photon energy. Did you happen to notice I capped the ball-light dose at 60 joules? 360 joules is a tremendous amount of photon energy. The complete dose parameters were:
- wavelengths: 670 nm or 808 nm
- irradiation: 200 mW
- time: 30 minutes
- length: 5 days
They found that 670 nm (red) but not 808 nm (infrared) light significantly increased serum testosterone, with no negative side effects.
Ahn JC, Kim YH and Rheel CK. The effects of low level laser therapy (LLLT) on the testis in elevating serum testosterone level in rats. Biomedical Research 2013; 24 (1): 28-32 ISSN 0970-938X. Retrieved May 28 2019 from http://www.mysciatica.net/uploads/1/0/7/0/10703895/lllt_may_increase_testosterone_levels.pdf
The 2014 Sperm Irradiation Study
In 2014 by Yazdi et. al. used red light therapy on sperm samples from asthenospermic males (men with low sperm motility). They tested doses of zero, four, six, and 10 joules per centimeter squared of 830 nm infrared light on the samples. Testing times were zero, 30, 45 and 60 minutes.
In the control groups, sperm motility significantly dropped after 30, 45 and 60 minutes. In sperm treated with 830 nm light, motility significantly increased after 30, 45 and after 60 minutes of therapy. The best results occurred with four and with six J/cm^2 with a treatment time of 60 minutes. The 45-minute treatment produced the second best results.
This study supports using 830 nm infrared light to increase sperm motility.
Salman Yazdi R, Bakhshi S, Jannat Alipoor F, Akhoond MR, Borhani S, Farrahi F, Lotfi Panah M, Sadighi Gilani MA. Effect of 830-nm diode laser irradiation on human sperm motility. Lasers Med Sci. 2014 Jan;29(1):97-104. doi: 10.1007/s10103-013-1276-7. Epub 2013 Feb 14. PMID: 23407899.
The 2022 Vasodilation Red Light Study
Vasodilation — increasing blood vessel diameter — is one of red light therapy’s super powers. The more nitric oxide in the blood dilating those vessels, the better the “erectile quality.”
In a 2022 study, Keszler et al irradiated mice hind limbs with red light. Of all doses tested, the 670 nm red light used for 5 minutes and delivering 50 mW/cm^2 of energy produced the most blood vessel dilation via nitric oxide triggering.
Importantly, after ten minutes of treatment the nitric oxide began to fall, demonstrating one of the laws of red light therapy: too much light is not better. They said: “Our results strongly support 670 nm light can regulate dilation of conduit vessel by releasing a vasoactive nitric oxide precursor species.”
Sullivan ME, Thompson CS, Dashwood MR, Khan MA, Jeremy JY, Morgan RJ and Mikhailidis DP. Nitric oxide and penile erection: Is erectile dysfunction another manifestation of vascular disease? Cardiovascular Research, Volume 43, Issue 3, August 1999, Pages 658–665, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0008-6363(99)00135-2
Light that Grows Hair Can Might Boost Testosterone
Red light therapy was accidentally discovered in 1967 when Dr. Endre Mester shone a low energy laser at lab mice. He did not know the laser was low energy, so was confused when his experiment failed.
But he did notice the mouse hair growing back. The treated group had faster growth than the placebo group. It was just a broken laser, so why did this happen?
After 55 years of research, we know what happened, but at the time, it was a happy mystery that led to thousands of research papers on how light affects biology.
Trillions of Energy Factories
Our cells are teaming with organelles called mitochondria. The mitochondria are stuffed with energy factories made from various enzymes. Each factory is an electron transport chain.
Each body has trillions of cells, and trillions upon trillions of electron transport chains.
The transport chains slow down with age, leaving us with less energy. As chains go offline, bodily systems slow to a crawl. When the chains stop altogether, we call that “death.”
So keeping the electron transport chains running is essential to life. That is where red light therapy comes in.
Light Powers Our Energy Factories
Little bits of copper and iron in the chain absorb the photons of light. In a process that the science has not yet totally defined, that light absorption brings broken electron transport chains back online. The electron transport chains output more energy for the body to use for activities such as hormone production, tissue repair, and mundane activities like breathing, walking and talking.
Light Pushes Nitric Oxide to Trigger Wider Blood Vessels
When the photons absorb in the electron transport chain, they knock loose nitric oxide that had putting some healthy breaks on the energy-creation process.
The loss of nitric oxide allows the factory to speed up energy production. That nitric oxide enters the blood supply, where it triggers vasodilation, or the opening of the blood vessels.
This allows blood to easily pass through pipes that had been clogged up. Nutrition and oxygen travel to tissue in need of repair.
Now that the energy factory production is up, the cells have the energy and the nutrition to repair themselves.
Can Energy and Vasodilation Improve Erections?
Viagra works by increasing nitric oxide, because nitric oxide improves blood flow. Red light therapy also triggers nitric oxide to improve blood flow. Does that mean that red light therapy improves erections?
The answer is “maybe.”
It’s only a theory at this point. But I would be a surprise if it failed.
Nitric oxide vasodilation is exactly how erection drugs work, and that is what red light therapy delivers.
How to Shine Red Light Therapy on Your Balls
Are lasers better than LEDs? What wavelengths do you need? What kind of red light therapy device is good for ball therapy? How long should you do the therapy?
Are Lasers Better than LEDs?
Red light therapy evolved from an accidental discovery with a low power laser. Scientists argued for years whether lasers were required to create the good effects. Would other types of light also work?
In 2002, NASA commissioned a study to test the use of light emitting diodes (LEDs) as red light therapy devices. The LEDs worked as well as the low-power lasers at wound repair and blood oxygenation.
Red light therapy does not need the high power lasers can offer. When you do use a later for red light therapy, you’re using a low-powered one, one that is not operating at full capacity. The body is just as happy to absorb light from an LED as it does from a low-power laser.
But there is such a thing as too little energy. If a device is underpowered, it’s probably going to be the LED and not the low-power laser that fails to deliver enough power.
Balls Do Not Like Heat
The worst that happens if you get too much red light therapy on your face is that you will produce less extra collagen. The worst that can happen if you use too much light on your balls is that you will heat them up. Heat kills sperm. Balls don’t like heat, which is why they’re outside of the warm body. So if you feel warmth, back off the lights.
Use Distance to Reduce Heat
Use distance to reduce heat. Create more distance between the lamp and yourself. The closer a lamp is, the more heat it transfers to you. Back the lamp away to turn down the heat. It’s exactly like moving your hand away from the stove.
Greater Distance to Reduce Heat Means Greater Time to Get Light
Just as you lose heat with distance, you also lose photons, those packets of light that absorb in the cells.
The easy fix for heat buildup is to move the light further away. The easy fix for photons lost to the distance is to use the light for a greater amount of time. What you lose in distance, you gain back in longer exposure times.
How to (Possibly) Boost Testosterone without Damaging Your Balls
Based on what we discussed above, here’s how to get a proper testosterone boost without harming yourself:
- keep the light far enough away so that it does not generate heat at ball level
- that distance will also decreasethe photon delivery per second
- make up for lost photons by doing longer treatment sessions
Red light therapy dilates blood vessels using the same nitric oxide vasodilation mechanism as Viagra. So there’s a good chance that red light therapy will increase tesosterone and improve erections. It’s an educated guess, but not a fact. Use distance to protect your balls from heat. Use time to get more photons. Use the treatment time calculator to determine time per session. Have fun!