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Low Testosterone: Signs, Causes, and Treatment Options

Jason Dobruck

Testosterone is a hormone that plays an essential role in male health. In men, testosterone influences many areas including virility, muscle building, mood, and much more. A lack of testosterone can result in serious health issues. Fortunately, there are safe and effective methods for preventing and resolving testosterone deficiency. Read on to learn about the importance of testosterone, issues of deficiency, and how to restore and maintain healthy testosterone values.

What is Testosterone and Why is it So Important?

Testosterone is a hormone, specifically an androgen, that has a significant influence on male health. Research shows that men who maintain appropriate testosterone values have a better overall sense of well-being, have greater physical ability, and are less likely to experience debilitating age-related illness when compared to those who are deficient.

A study in 2007 found that 33 percent of their nearly 800 male participants with suboptimal testosterone levels were more likely to die in the following 20 years than participants with higher testosterone values. The increased risk of death was consistent regardless of lifestyle factors such as smoking, drinking, and physical activity. The mortality rate did not appear to be impacted by preexisting health conditions. Studies have found that testosterone deficiency in men increases the risk of serious, potentially life-threatening illnesses such as cardiovascular disease.

Testosterone also appears to have a notable influence on male physiological function. A study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that study participants with higher levels of testosterone presented greater performance results in the areas of memory, reflex, awareness, and physical ability when compared to participants with lower testosterone values. This is further enforced by data showing that men diagnosed with clinically low testosterone levels, known as hypogonadism, are more susceptible to both physiological and neurological degeneration.

The Dangers of Decreasing Testosterone Values

In the past, declining testosterone values were primarily only a concern for older males. However, recent studies suggest that low testosterone is becoming a common problem among men of all ages. This is supported by research showing that the average level of testosterone in men has decreased by 15 to 20 percent over the past fifteen years. If testosterone values continue to drop, the frequency and severity of various health issues are likely to increase.

The Impact of Low Testosterone

Without adequate testosterone, male bodily function declines dramatically resulting in the development of various symptoms. To better identify and resolve deficiency it is important to be aware of the most common symptoms of testosterone deficiency including:

  • Loss of libido

  • Depression

  • Erectile Dysfunction

  • Weight gain

  • Loss of muscle

  • High blood pressure

  • Gynecomastia or breast enlargement

  • Increased perspiration

  • Fatigue

  • Elevated blood sugar

  • Hair loss

  • High insulin levels and diabetes

  • Difficulty focusing

  • Changes in mood

  • Poor memory

  • High cholesterol

Unfortunately, the symptoms of testosterone deficiency are frequently misattributed to aging. Furthermore, testing ranges for testosterone have broadened to such a degree that even if a patient falls within the “normal” range they may still be deficient. These are serious problems not only because testosterone deficiency is occurring more often in younger males, but an incorrect diagnosis may cause a patient to struggle with testosterone deficiency and its associated symptoms indefinitely.

men with low testosterone.jpg

Causes of Low Testosterone

There are many reasons an individual’s testosterone levels may be in decline. Some of these include poor diet, obesity, certain medications, preexisting conditions, and fitness level. However, there are three particularly influential factors that men are likely to suffer from: elevated stress level, poor sleep quality, and enzyme malfunction.

High Stress

The adrenals are a key producer of testosterone and also an essential component of the body’s stress response. This means that stress-induced adrenal malfunction can have a significant effect on testosterone values. For example, when we are stressed, the adrenals kick into action and focus on producing the stress hormone cortisol. If this stress response is prolonged, not only is the body flooded with cortisol, but the adrenals may become overworked or fatigued. If this occurs, the gland may become incapable of producing sufficient testosterone resulting in a deficiency.

Poor Sleep Quality

Sleep is important regarding the production and activity of hormones. Inadequate sleep, interrupted sleep, and poor-quality sleep can all impede hormone production, which can lead to a deficiency of various important hormones. In fact, studies have found that those with chronic sleep issues are far more likely to experience imbalances or deficiencies of various hormones, including testosterone.

Enzyme Malfunction

Testosterone values are influenced by various enzymes including aromatase and 5-alpha-reductase. These enzymes break down testosterone into other compounds used for various processes throughout the body. When working as is intended, both support healthy bodily function while keeping testosterone at the appropriate value. However, an excess of one or both enzymes can lead to over conversion of testosterone resulting in a deficiency.

How to Improve Testosterone Levels

There are several approaches to improving testosterone values, including hormone therapies and lifestyle changes. Each treatment method has its own merits, and many patients are likely to benefit from doing some combination of both.

Hormone Therapy

Studies show that most men, even if they are not severely deficient, can benefit from some degree of direct testosterone supplementation. An alternative to direct testosterone supplementation is therapy with hormones that stimulate testosterone production. This approach may be more beneficial in the long term as it helps normalize testosterone production rather than simply adding testosterone to the system.

Lifestyle Improvements

In addition to hormone therapy, there are multiple lifestyle improvements that can notably improve individual testosterone levels.

Reducing stress in your life by engaging in relaxing activities like meditation, walking or running, and bedtimes ritual such as reading a book or drinking tea can all help ease the strain on the adrenals improving testosterone production.

Dietary changes can also dramatically improve testosterone levels by improving hormone balance. Processed, sugary, and overly salted foods contribute to hormone malfunction. Therefore, avoiding these foods as much as possible and eating more nutrient-dense foods such as tuna, egg yolks, oysters, beef and beans can have a positive effect on testosterone values.

You can further support testosterone values by improving your sleep quality in the following ways: optimizing your sleep environment (keeping it at a slightly cool temperature and as dark as possible), minimizing the use of electronics and exposure to screens before bed, and sticking to a regular schedule that allows for at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Support Male Wellness by Restoring Testosterone

We cannot overstate the importance of testosterone regarding male health. Sadly, it is increasingly common for men of all ages to suffer from some degree of testosterone deficiency. This can have a dramatic impact on their health and overall quality of life.

At the Holtorf Medical Group, our physicians are trained to provide you with cutting-edge testing and innovative treatments to find the answers you deserve and a treatment plan that is built to suit your specific condition. If you are a man experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, call us at 877-508-1177!

Want to learn more about male health and testosterone? Watch this webinar from Dr. Wayne Wightman.


Resources

  1. Wang, Christina et al. “Low testosterone associated with obesity and the metabolic syndrome contributes to sexual dysfunction and cardiovascular disease risk in men with type 2 diabetes.Diabetes care vol. 34,7 (2011): 1669-75.

  2. Hirokawa, Kumi et al. “Moderating effects of salivary testosterone levels on associations between job demand and psychological stress response in Japanese medical workers.Industrial health vol. 54,3 (2016): 194-203.

  3. Dorgan, J F et al. “Effects of dietary fat and fiber on plasma and urine androgens and estrogens in men: a controlled feeding study.The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 64,6 (1996): 850-5.

  4. Morris, Paul D, and Kevin S Channer. “Testosterone and cardiovascular disease in men.Asian journal of andrology vol. 14,3 (2012): 428-35.

  5. Kent Holtorf, MD. “Low Testosterone and Longevity.” Holtorf Medical Group.

  6. Hak, A Elisabeth et al. “Low levels of endogenous androgens increase the risk of atherosclerosis in elderly men: the Rotterdam study.The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism vol. 87,8 (2002): 3632-9.

  7. Moffat, Scott D et al. “Longitudinal assessment of serum free testosterone concentration predicts memory performance and cognitive status in elderly men.The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism vol. 87,11 (2002): 5001-7.


Jason DobruckJason is a freelance writer with experience covering health, food, nutrition, and supplementation for NAHIS, HoltraCeuticals and other wellness outlets. He has been writing medical and health related content for over three years. Jason enjoys covering everything from general health tips to comprehensive condition overviews and treatment options.


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