Is Low Testosterone Impacting Your Life?
Are your testosterone levels normal? Probably not. It is estimated that roughly 40% of adult American men have low testosterone levels. And this deficiency does not only affect your performance in the bedroom- it will also follow you into the boardroom.
In this blog, we explore the symptoms of low testosterone, why so many people are deficient, and how to solve this.
Symptoms of low testosterone:
The symptoms of low testosterone levels are as follows:
Reduced lean muscle mass
Reduced sex drive
Reduced erectile function
Loss of body & facial hair
Loss of lean muscle mass
Lower energy level, endurance, and physical strength
Difficulty with finding words to say
Longer recovery from exercise
Decreased exercise strength and endurance
Decreased executive function
The role of testosterone:
Testosterone is typically known as the hormone responsible for the development of male sexual organs and characteristics. But testosterone actually plays a key role in many functions and processes throughout the entire body- in both men and women. Some of the roles of testosterone include:
Heart health & blood
Testosterone aids red blood cell production within the bone barrow.
Testosterone increases muscle protein synthesis and the size of muscle fibers- boosting muscle mass.
Testosterone has been proven to bolster bone strength, especially in the spine.
Increase verbal memory & spatial abilities
Testosterone activates a distributed cortical network, which aids memory and spatial cognition.
For men and women, testosterone has been linked to an increase in sex drive.
Testosterone receptors in the brain significantly impact mental health.
Increased Drive and Motivation
Testosterone boosts dopamine which is the neurotransmitter that affects motivation and drive.
Decreased Abdominal Fat
Optimal levels of testosterone decrease visceral fat. High levels of visceral fat increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, and metabolic diseases such as diabetes.
Testosterone & the male body:
Unsurprisingly, testosterone has been much more thoroughly studied in its role within the male body. In 2016, the Mayo Clinic Proceedings laid out guidelines around the controversy and concern of men taking Testosterone.
TD is Testosterone Deficiency.
T is Testosterone
Listed below are the 9 resolutions that were discussed and agreed upon:
TD is a well-established, significant medical condition that negatively affects male sexuality, reproduction, general health, and quality of life.
The symptoms and signs of TD occur as a result of low levels of T and may benefit from treatment regardless of an identified underlying etiology.
TD is a global public health concern.
T therapy for men with TD is effective, rational, and evidence-based.
There is no T concentration threshold that reliably distinguishes those who will respond to treatment and those who will not.
The evidence does not support increased risks of CV events with T therapy.
There is no scientific basis for any age-specific recommendations against the use of T therapy in men.
The evidence does not support an increased risk of prostate cancer with T therapy.
The evidence supports a major research initiative to explore the possible benefit of T therapy for cardiometabolic disease, including diabetes.
Testosterone as a global public health concern
Testosterone is measured in nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL), the “normal” level is between s between 264-916 ng/dl for an adult male. But levels around 300 might still see symptoms of a testosterone deficiency. Today, the average American adult male has an average level of 452.22 ng/dL. While this might seem fine, the average testosterone levels of adult men in 1999 were 605.39 ng/dL.
100 years ago the range for male testosterone was 800 - 2000ng/dl!
Since the 1980s, the average testosterone level of a man has decreased by around 1%. Doctors around the country are seeing teenage boys with the testosterone levels of 80-year-olds 40 years ago. This is especially concerning, as the testosterone levels of men and boys today are lowering at a much faster rate than seen previously. The effects of a decreased average testosterone level can also be seen in the strength of today's men in comparison with the men several decades ago. One study demonstrated that men today have "significantly weaker hands and arms" when compared to men 30 years ago. Healthy testosterone levels are directly correlated to physical strength.
This increase in testosterone deficiency has led to a rise in related symptoms- such as reduced semen quality and quantity in men and genital deformities in newborn babies. People with testosterone deficiency are also at a much higher risk for cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.
Toxins ↑ Testosterone ↓
This substantial and swift decline of testosterone levels among American men has been aided by many factors. One is an increase in obesity- obese men are 2.4 times more likely to be testosterone deficient. When fat cells metabolize testosterone, they are changed into estrogen. Obesity also lowers the levels of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), which carries testosterone in the blood. Both of these factors lower the overall amount of testosterone in the body.
Testosterone levels are also significantly impacted by environmental toxins. Two toxins, in particular, have been linked to testosterone deficiencies:
Phthalates are plasticizers used the make plastics more transparent and flexible. Phthalates are found in toys, personal care products, and in the food we eat. The harmful toxin mimics estrogen and counteracts the effects of testosterone. They negatively impact libido, fertility, and testosterone levels.
High levels of phthalates have been linked to a 24-34% drop in testosterone levels in boys ages 6-12. This is especially concerning, given that much reproductive development and growth occurs during those formative years.
BPA’s are hard to avoid. They are found in plastics, metal food containers, and receipt paper. BPA is a known endocrine disruptor.
BPA’s cause epigenetic alterations, which lead to lowering semen quality and other adverse effects on the male reproductive system.
Several population studies have estimated over 90% of individuals have BPA levels in urine that are above safety thresholds.
Endocrine disruptors like BPA and triclosan (an antibacterial agent) alter testosterone levels by mimicking estrogen and blocking testosterone from functioning normally. Ingestion and dermal contact account for 90% of our exposure to BPA and triclosan. Once inside our bodies, endocrine disruptors disrupt and interfere with the production, transport, release, metabolism, or elimination of natural hormones in the body. In the case of testosterone, this is especially concerning for men and women, as the hormone is responsible for many important processes in our body. For adults, the disruption of testosterone can negatively impact cognitive function, energy, libido, sexual function, and bone health.
Naturally increase testosterone levels:
Luckily, there are several lifestyle changes that have demonstrated to naturally increase levels of testosterone, for both men and women.
Exercise- A large study found that individuals who exercised regularly have higher testosterone than those who do not. Weight lifting and other forms of resistance training are the best type of exercise to boost testosterone levels. But cardio and high-intensity interval training can also be effective.
A diet high in proteins, fat, and carbs- Your hormone levels are very dependent on your diet, especially testosterone. Protein will help your testosterone levels by maintaining your overall health and aid in fat loss. Carbs have also been proven to optimize testosterone levels during resistance training.
Minimize stress- Long-term stress and elevated cortisol levels have been linked to a decrease in testosterone levels. Cortisol acts as the antithesis of testosterone; when one goes up, the other goes down. Stress also usually leads to weight gain and body fat, which will negatively impact testosterone levels.
Healthy vitamin D levels- This magic vitamin has been demonstrated to work as a natural testosterone booster. A 12-month study found that an increased vitamin D intake leads to a 25% increase in natural testosterone levels. Researchers estimate that nearly half of the US is vitamin D deficient, so a supplement is likely necessary.
Vitamin and mineral supplements- Zinc can boost testosterone in athletes and people with a vitamin deficiency. Zinc and vitamin B have demonstrated to increase sperm quality by 74%. Other studies have suggested vitamins A, C, and E can impact testosterone levels.
Get quality sleep- A good night of sleep is vital for many health reasons, but it can also largely impact your testosterone levels. One study found that sleeping 5 hours a night was linked to a 15% decrease in testosterone levels. Researchers estimate every additional hour of sleep raises testosterone levels by 15%.
Purchase Organic Personal Care Products- Almost all personal care products contain high levels of endocrine disruptors which will increase estrogen and decrease testosterone.
Avoid using plastic- Instead, use stainless steel water bottles and store food in glass containers.
Dr. Johnson’s Take:
I prescribe bio-identical testosterone (T) for those who have symptoms of low testosterone and/or are less that 50% of the lab range for T. But I do not prescribe testosterone without also addressing lifestyle modifications such as diet, exercise, sleep, stress reduction and reducing toxin exposure. All of these will have a positive impact on health, and quality of life
Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy requires a holistic approach to optimize your health and longevity.