Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone associated with distinctive developmental traits among men. What precisely are sex hormones? They are substances produced by organisms within the body and transported through body fluids. They play a primary regulatory function in stimulating the growth and function of body cells that control reproduction.
What Systems does Testosterone Regulate in the Male Body?
The most apparent regulatory function of testosterone is noticed in the onset of sexual maturity during the puberty stage. Thanks to this developmental change, a young man is considered able to reproduce. The rise in testosterone level is responsible for the rapid growth of body cells manifested in the enlargement of the penis and the testicles, increase in body weight and height, a deepening of the voice, and appearance of pubic, facial, and body hair.
Less apparent but equally important regulatory functions of the testosterone hormone relate to:
- The production of red blood cells
- The production of the male reproductive cells (sperm)
- The distribution of fat (adipose tissue)
- Development of muscle mass and strength
- Growth in bone density
- The stimulation of sexual drive
If testosterone is not produced at normal levels, these functions are inhibited.
Causes and Signs of Low Testosterone
It is commonly agreed that the production of sex hormones deteriorates with age. Statistics, however, suggest that hypogonadism is affecting more and more men in their prime years when their sexual and reproductive functions should be in full vigor. A recent article by Forbes refers to a frequently referenced study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2007. The study reported a 1% annual decline in levels of testosterone among American men across a spectrum of different ages.
From a clinical perspective, the average levels of testosterone in adult men is around 300-1000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). Any level below 300 is indicative of low-T.
Two questions are consequent of the proceeding: What are the causes of low testosterone (low-T), or Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome (TD) as some would call it? What are the signs of low-T?
The Psychological Impact
Low testosterone wreaks a negative impact not only on a man’s physical well-being but also on his psychological health.
Dr. Edward Levitan of Visions Health Care in Wellesley, Massachusetts states that “Cells in the brain have testosterone receptors that significantly affect mental health.”
Some of the negative consequences that can manifest include:
- Lack of energy
- Mental fatigue
- Inability to focus
- Mood swings
- Failure to effectively manage stress levels
- Failing relationships
Some refer to these symptoms as “andropause,” the “male menopause.”
While many consider the physical manifestations of decreasing testosterone levels, these psychological impacts are often overlooked—even by health care professionals.
The causes of Low T
Popular belief has often associated testosterone levels with genetics and race. Nonetheless, research suggests that lifestyle choices and environmental factors have the upper hand.
For instance, a study done by Durham University and reported on ScienceDaily proposes that the environment in which a man lives during childhood years significantly determines low or high-T. A male child growing up in a disease-prone environment would be susceptible to low-T.
Other causes associated with low-T include hormonal disorders, injury to the testes testicular cancer, HIV/AIDs, chronic kidney and liver diseases, and a range of other infections. Lifestyle diseases and conditions are also at the root of low-T including obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, and addiction to drug and alcohol.
A variety of signs symptomizes Low-T. The most apparent sexual signs are low sex drive, low semen volume, and weaker and fewer erections. Non-sexual signs are exhibited in decreased bone and muscle mass, baldness, and increased body fat, especially around the waist.
Tips for Restoring Normal Testosterone Levels
The silver lining to that dark cloud hanging over low-T is in the fact that the condition typically can be reversed. Some remedial tips are given below.
- Take supplements
Supplements treat hypogonadism by accelerating growth and follicle-stimulating hormones. Additionally, supplements can temporarily correct the inhibiting factor in testosterone production.
While a lot of testosterone-boosting products are found in the market, the real supplements are in the constituting ingredients. Read your product label for these commonly listed supplements: D-Aspartic Acid (D-AA), Fenugreek, Zinc, Maca, Ginseng, Ashwagandha, Ginger, Garlic and Stinging Nestle.
- Watch your diet/nutrition,
Nutrition has a direct impact on the amino acids that regulate protein building and the functioning of hormones and neurotransmitters. Certain foods can enhance the functioning of amino acids related to growth and follicle stimulating hormones at the testicles.
- Zinc rich oysters
- Fatty fish, including salmon, mackerel and tuna
- Pomegranates for their high antioxidant levels,
- Fortified plant milk high in vitamin D, like soy milk
- Magnesium-rich leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach, mustard greens, and collard greens
- Nuts and seeds, including almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds
- Whole grains
- Organic-bred poultry and red meats
- Beans and lentils.
Eating right also means refraining from testosterone-inhibiting foods such as meat and dairy products from animals with hormonal-induced growth, soybeans and soy products associated with estrogen production (high levels of estrogen in men counteracts testosterone production). Chronic alcohol consumption and low-carb diets are also inhibitors of testosterone production.
- Exercise/weight lifting
Exercise, especially activity that involves weight lifting, can trigger an increase in testosterone levels. This is especially linked to healthy weight loss and increased bone and muscle density. Consider with regards that male erection is majorly a muscles-strength response. Exercise is also associated with mood-controlling neurotransmitters and has a direct connection to both sexual and non-sexual symptoms of low-T.
The takeaway here is that low-T can cause symptoms that compromise the quality of a man’s life. From reduced self-esteem to negatively impacting his psyche and relationships, he can suffer from these symptoms.
The good news is that proper self-care through nutrition, exercise, and specialist-directed consumption of supplements can help reverse and eventually restore healthy levels of testosterone.