Testosterone: Why is it important?
Testosterone is a hormone that’s produced by the body. Both men and women produce testosterone, however men produce much more of it. In men, testosterone is primarily produced in the testicles. Not only is testosterone required for optimum health and vitality, men also require adequate amounts of testosterone for a variety of body functions. This includes maintaining muscle strength and mass, as well as maintaining bone density. Testosterone is also used to stimulate the production of sperm and maintain men’s sexual health. Studies show that this hormone is also used in the production of red blood cells.1
When your body doesn’t produce enough testosterone, you may start to experience various symptoms that have an impact on your sexual, physical, and mental health.
How is testosterone deficiency defined? A blood test, known as a “serum testosterone test” can be done to measure testosterone levels. Normal levels of testosterone are between 300 to 1000 nanograms per deciliter. A deficiency is diagnosed when levels are lower than 300 nanograms per deciliter.2
As men start to age, testosterone levels will start to decline. Research done on men over the age of 60 show that 20% of the participants have low levels of testosterone. This is an indication that aging can lead to a testosterone deficiency that causes a variety of symptoms. Although declining testosterone is usually considered age-related, younger men may also experience low testosterone. In this article we’ll look at some of the signs of testosterone deficiency.3
Signs You May Be Testosterone Deficient
If your testosterone levels are low, you many start to experience a variety of signs and symptoms. Sometimes the signs are very hard to detect. Here are the top 8 signs you should be looking for when it comes to testosterone deficiency.
1. Declining Sex Drive
Have you lost interest in sex? There’s a strong connection between testosterone and your libido. Low levels of testosterone may lead to a lack of desire for sex.3
2. Low Sperm Volume
Testosterone boosters are necessary for the production of sperm. If you notice a decrease in the volume of sperm, it many be a sign that your testosterone levels are low. This can also impact your sperm count, which can affect your fertility.3
3. Erectile Dysfunction
Low testosterone may cause erectile difficulties. This can include problems achieving or maintaining an erection. Low levels of the hormone may cause an erection when you’re sleeping.4
4. Feeling Tired
If you’re feeling more tired than usual, without any underlying reasons, low testosterone may be the cause. This can include difficulty getting enough sleep as well as a general feeling of fatigue during the day that leaves you feeling unmotivated.
5. Reduced Muscle and Bone Mass
Your body uses testosterone to build muscle; when testosterone levels are low you may find that you’re experiencing reduced muscle mass as well as a loss of some of your muscle. You may also notice a thinning of bone density, which can lead to fragile bones. You may not be aware of this loss of bone mass, however if you experience bone fractures your doctor may suspect low testosterone as being a cause.5
6. Hair Loss and Decrease in Beard Growth
Balding for many men is a natural part of aging, so it may be difficult to contribute hair loss to low testosterone. However, low testosterone can cause hair to rapidly fall out, rather then being a slow process. Another sign of low testosterone is a decrease in beard growth or a patchy growth where you once had a fullness. You may also notice a loss of hair on your body as well.4
7. Gaining Body Fat
Gaining weight even when you’re working out regularly is another sign of low testosterone. For many men, fat starts to accumulate more in the abdominal area than anywhere else. Other men with low testosterone will notice the development of breast tissue.1
8. Low Mood and Irritability
Do you find yourself feeling down and irritable? Mood changes are common with low levels of testosterone, particularly feelings of depression and unexplained moodiness and mood swings. Low testosterone can also cause you to feel irritable for no reason.6
Natural Remedies for Boosting Testosterone
Some natural remedies may help to boost your testosterone.
Get more zinc – Research shows that zinc may be a factor in regulating testosterone levels. Add zinc-rich foods to your diet, such as nuts, beans, whole grains, and seafood such as lobster and crab. You should be getting about 11mg of zinc per day. Consider taking a zinc supplement if you’re not getting enough from the foods you eat.7
Take Vitamin D – There’s some evidence that taking a Vitamin D supplement of 3,300 IUs per day may boost testosterone.8
Drink coffee – Studies indicate that caffeine may naturally help improve testosterone levels.9
Get enough exercise – Exercise may help to boost your testosterone levels. In particular, lifting weights may help to stimulate the production of testosterone.10
Get enough sleep – Not getting enough sleep can affect your hormones, including lowering the level of testosterone.2
Natural supplements – Some natural supplements made with herbs and plants may help increase testosterone levels, like products by HexoFire Labs. This includes tongkat ali, which is also known as Malaysian ginseng, and saw palmetto, which is extracted from the berries of tree. 11,12
When to See a Doctor
If you think that you may be experiencing signs of a testosterone deficiency, it’s time to talk with your doctor. They can schedule you for a serum testosterone test to determine your testosterone level. Even though some of the signs may appear to be subtle and insignificant, it’s important to discuss your health with a medical professional. If left untreated, low testosterone may lead to other health problems, such as infertility or “hypogonadism”, a condition where your body’s testosterone levels are extremely low.13
As well, low testosterone may be linked to some medical issues, such as liver disease, diabetes, pituitary or hypothalamic disease, injury and tumors affecting the testicles, and the use of some medications and steroids.
Final Thoughts on Testosterone Deficiency
Testosterone is usually associated with libido and sex drive in men. But it’s much more than that – it also affects your physical and mental health. No matter what age you are, if you’re experiencing signs of low testosterone be sure to make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your options for testosterone management.
- Bain, J. (2007). The many faces of testosterone. Clin Interv Aging. 2(4): 567-576. Retrieved on January 07, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2686330/
- McBride, JA. & Carson, CC. (2015). Diagnosis and management of testosterone deficiency. Asian J Androl. 17(2): 177-186. Retrieved on January 07, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4650468/
- Stanworth, R. & Hugh-Jones, J. (2008) Testosterone for the aging male; current evidence and recommended practice. Clin Interv Aging. 3(1): 25-44. Retrieved on January 07, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2544367/
- Tsujimura, A. (2013). The Relationship between Testosterone Deficiency and Men’s Health. World J Mens Health. 31(2): 126.135. Retrieved on January 07, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3770847/
- Yuki, A. & Otsuka, R. (2013). Relationship between low free testosterone levels and loss of muscle mass. Sci Rep. 3: 1818. Retrieved on January 07, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23660939
- Johnson, JM. & Nachtigall, LB. (2013). The effect of testosterone levels on mood in men. Psychosomatics. 54(6): 509-14. Retrieved on January 07, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24016385
- Liu, YL. & Zhang, MN. (2017). The effectiveness of zinc supplementation in men with isolated hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. Asian J Androl. 19(3): 280-285. Retrieved on January 07, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5427781/
- Pilz, S. & Frisch, S. (2011). Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men. Horm Metab Res. 43(3): 223-5. Retrieved on January 07, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21154195
- Ricci, E. & Vigano, P. (2017). Coffee and caffeine intake and male infertility: a systematic review. Nutr J. 16: 37. Retrieved on January 07, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5482951/
- Hayes, LD. & Herbert, P. (2017). Exercise training improves free testosterone in lifelong sedentary aging men. Endocr Connect. 6(5): 306-310. Retrieved on January 07, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5510446/
- Erasmus, N. & Solomon, MC. (2012) Effect of Eurycoma longifolia Jack (Tongkat ali) extract on human spermatozoa in vitro. Andrologia. 44: 301-314. Retrieved on January 07, 2019 from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1439-0272.2012.01282.x/abstract
- Gunnels, TA. &Bloomer, RJ. (2014) Increasing Circulating Testosterone: Impact of Herbal Dietary Supplements. J Plant Biochem Physiol. 2:130. Retrieved on January 07, 2019 from https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/increasing-circulating-testosterone-impact-of-herbal-dietary-supplements.2329-9029.1000130.php?aid=28009
- Jia, H. & Sullivan, CT. (2015). Review of health risks of low testosterone and testosterone administration. World J Clin Cases. 3(4): 338-344. Retrieved on January 07, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4391003/