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Testosterone: What Is It And Its Impact On Health

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Testosterone is the most essential hormone in males that is responsible for several vital functions in the male body including sexual function, which is why is it also known as the sex hormone.

The imbalance of this hormone can create numerous issues in your body, therefore it is essential to maintain the optimum level of testosterone in your body.

This article will walk you through the details of this hormone, how you can naturally elevate the level of testosterone, and symptoms indicating a low level of testosterone in your body.

I have also mentioned details of testosterone replacement therapy, how it can benefit you, and what are the risk factors associated with it.

All About Testosterone

What Is Testosterone?

Testosterone is a primary sex hormone that plays a significant role[1] in the development of the male reproductive system along with the development of secondary sexual characteristics.

These characteristics include muscle mass, body hair, vocal changes, fat distribution, and red blood cell production. Testosterone is also produced by women in small amounts.

It is an important factor that is involved in the overall well-being of both males and females. Testosterone levels rise at the onset of puberty and generally drop with increasing age.

Testosterone is secreted by Leydig cells present in the testicles in males. The brain and the pituitary gland regulate the production of testosterone which enter directly into the blood to perform various functions.

According to this scientific evidence, the primary function of testosterone includes testicular descent, spermatogenesis, and the development of testes.

Testosterone Imbalances

The normal testosterone levels in males are 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) or 10 to 35 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L).

Lower levels of testosterone may lead to conditions like hypogonadism or infertility. Symptoms of hypogonadism include reduced sex drive, erectile dysfunction, low sperm count, and enlarged or swollen breast tissue as per this study[2].

Furthermore, low testosterone levels may also include symptoms like loss of body hair, loss of muscle bulk, loss of strength, increased body fat, and osteoporosis over time.

Testosterone imbalances can be detected[3] by carrying out blood tests. Some of the causes of testosterone imbalances include testicular injury, infection of the testicles, opiate medications, disorders that affect the pituitary gland, chronic diseases, or genetic diseases.

Another cause of lower testosterone levels might be aging. According to this article, after 40 years of age, testosterone levels fall by 1.6 percent every year.

There is a range of treatments available for hypogonadism or low testosterone levels such as taking Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT).

However, there are natural ways as well using which one can increase testosterone levels as long as you do not have a medical condition.

How To Increase Testosterone Naturally?

  1. Weightlifting And Exercise

    An increase in physical activity and exercise is associated with increased levels of testosterone. The study[4] has proven that individuals who exercised more showed higher testosterone levels in test results.

    It also suggested that exercising was even better than following a diet to lose weight to increase testosterone levels.

    However, it is necessary to ensure that your body gets a sufficient amount of nutrition as a lack of proper nutrition might also be a reason for low testosterone levels.

    Weightlifting and other resistance training exercises are the best exercises to boost testosterone levels as per this study[5]. High-intensity interval training also known as HIIT workouts is also considered effective to increase testosterone levels.

  2. Consume More Carbs, Fats, And Proteins

    Proper nutrition is important for healthy hormone production. Frequent diets might disrupt the balance of the body.

    The research[6] showed an increase in testosterone and overall sexual function of the men consuming a high protein and high carb diet along with a reduction in their weight too.

    Researchers have concluded[7] that egg white protein could also help in increasing testosterone serum levels.

    Hence, it is important to not overeat or starve yourself. A balanced[8] diet filled with nutrition might increase testosterone levels.

  3. Vitamin D

    Vitamin D has multiple health benefits. It is naturally available from the sun. However, research has shown that half of the adult population of the US has vitamin D deficiency.

    Vitamin D may work as a natural testosterone booster according to this study. Apart from the sun as a source of vitamin D, one can also take vitamin D supplements.

    A study[9] has shown that deficient people given vitamin D supplements witnessed an increased level of testosterone by around 25 percent.

  4. Rest

    Getting a good quality of sleep is as important as maintaining a healthy diet. Sleep has major effects on testosterone levels. It is said that sleeping for only 5 hours could result in a 15 percent reduction in testosterone levels.

    Every additional hour of sleep could result in your testosterone level rising by 15 percent. To maintain healthy testosterone levels, it is significant to get proper high-quality sleep.

    An average of 7 to 10 hours of sleep is sufficient as per research[10].

  5. Vitamin And Mineral Supplements

    Vitamins and minerals are essential for the proper functioning of the human body. This study found that zinc and magnesium[11] supplements increased sperm quality by 74 percent.

    A study[12] shows that vitamin supplements like vitamins A, C, and E can help increase testosterone levels.

    Vitamin D and zinc have strong evidence of increasing testosterone levels. Other micronutrients might also be beneficial but require further research and study.

  6. Balanced Lifestyle

    Following a balanced lifestyle is crucial to leading a healthy life. Involve yourself in physical activity, and give your body proper nutrition.

    You may also take natural testosterone boosters like ashwagandha which has proven benefits as per this article[13]. Ginger might also prove beneficial in increasing testosterone levels.

    Avoid alcohol and drugs. This research[14] shows that consuming alcohol has negative impacts on glands aiding in reproductive health.

    Reducing stress and leading a life full of happiness and laughter might also help you increase your testosterone levels as shown by research[15].

Low Testosterone Symptoms

  1. Infertility

    When testosterone levels are lower[16] than the healthy range, one might experience lower sexual drive and erectile dysfunction which is associated with infertility.

    Lower testosterone levels might also affect the development of sperms. Some studies also show that lower testosterone level is not related to infertility as the testosterone levels in testes where the sperms are produced are much higher than in blood.

  2. Hair Loss And Fatigue

    Loss of hair with aging is natural. However, lower testosterone levels might be a reason for body hair loss. For some men, hair loss may be hereditary.

    Those with lower testosterone might also experience a loss of facial hair. Low energy levels are also associated with lower testosterone levels. Fatigue and extreme tiredness are common symptoms of low testosterone levels.

  3. Loss Of Muscles And Gain In Weight

    This study[17] shows that testosterone affects muscle mass. As testosterone helps in building muscles, lower levels of testosterone might cause a decrease in muscle mass.

    Such males might also experience increased body fat mass. Low testosterone levels might also lead to decreased bone mass as this hormone plays a significant role in strengthening the bones.

  4. Mood Swings

    Testosterone has physical as well as mental impacts. It can lead to sudden mood changes and also hurt memory. This study shows that testosterone replacement have been shown to improve memory although the impact was small.

What Is Testosterone Replacement Therapy?

Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) also known as Androgen Replacement Therapy (ART) is used to treat low testosterone levels or hypogonadism.

With increasing age, one might experience symptoms of hypogonadism like decreased energy levels, decreased bone density, and muscle mass.

Testosterone Replacement Therapy has multiple benefits such as increased libido and energy level, beneficial effects on bone density, strength, and muscle as well as cardioprotective effects as stated by this study[18].

Testosterone Replacement Therapy involves the administration of testosterone through injections, skin creams, patches, gels, pills, or subcutaneous pellets.

This therapy is also prescribed to reduce the effect of normal aging. It has several other uses such as-

  • It may improve your sexual function
  • Increase levels of other hormones that interact with Testosterone, including prolactin
  • It can also help in balancing testosterone levels caused by conditions such as autoimmune diseases, genetic disorders, and radiation therapy

Other than the medical uses of Testosterone Replacement Therapy, it also has some non-medical uses such as-

  • Losing weight
  • Increasing energy levels
  • Boosting sexual drive or performance
  • Raising endurance for athletic activities
  • Gaining extra muscle mass for bodybuilding

However, using Testosterone Replacement Therapy as a method to increase performance level is considered ‘doping’.

Risks Of Testosterone Replacement Therapy

The risks associated with Testosterone Replacement Therapy are still debatable. However, some of them argued the health risks of Testosterone Replacement Therapy.

The risks may include[19] chest pain, difficulty in breathing, speech difficulties, low sperm count, polycythemia vera, lower good cholesterol levels, heart attack, stroke, swelling in hands or legs, acne, or other skin problems, and pulmonary embolism.

Conclusion

Testosterone is an important hormone that plays a crucial role in the development of the male reproductive system. Testosterone imbalances are witnessed among old-aged people naturally.

Natural ways to improve T levels include taking proper rest, nutrition, vitamins, and minerals, and following a balanced lifestyle.

However, unnaturally lower levels of testosterone also known as hypogonadism is a condition that may be treated using medications.

It can be treated effectively using Testosterone Replacement Therapy TRT which may improve symptoms[20] of low testosterone levels such as hair loss, fatigue, and mood changes and might also improve memory.

References/Sources

Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. George N. Nassar; Stephen W. Leslie. Physiology, Testosterone Last Update: January 4, 2022. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526128/
  2. Peeyush Kumar, Nitish Kumar, Devendra Singh Thakur, et al. Male hypogonadism: Symptoms and treatment J Adv Pharm Technol Res. 2010 Jul-Sep; 1(3): 297–301.doi: 10.4103/0110-5558.72420
  3. Testosterone Levels Test Last updated December 3, 2020 Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/testosterone-levels-test/
  4. Diana Vaamonde, Marzo Edir Da Silva-Grigoletto, Juan Manuel García-Manso, et al. Physically active men show better semen parameters and hormone values than sedentary menEur J Appl Physiol. 2012 Sep;112(9):3267-73. doi: 10.1007/s00421-011-2304-6. Epub 2012 Jan 11. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22234399/
  5. Lawrence D Hayes, Peter Herbert, Nicholas F Sculthorpe, et al. Exercise training improves free testosterone in lifelong sedentary aging men Endocr Connect. 2017 Jul; 6(5): 306–310.Published online 2017 May 17. doi: 10.1530/EC-17-0082
  6. Lisa J Moran, Grant D Brinkworth, Sean Martin, et al. Long-Term Effects of a Randomised Controlled Trial Comparing High Protein or High Carbohydrate Weight Loss Diets on Testosterone, SHBG, Erectile and Urinary Function in Overweight and Obese Men PLoS One. 2016 Sep 1;11(9):e0161297. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0161297. eCollection 2016. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27584019/
  7. Karma L. Pearce1 and Kelton Tremellen The Effect of Macronutrients on Reproductive Hormones in Overweight and Obese Men: A Pilot Study Nutrients. 2019 Dec; 11(12): 3059.Published online 2019 Dec 14. doi: 10.3390/nu11123059
  8. Adi Lukas Kurniawan, Chien-Yeh Hsu, Hsiao-Hsien Rau, et al. Dietary patterns in relation to testosterone levels and severity of impaired kidney function among middle-aged and elderly men in Taiwan: a cross-sectional study Nutr J. 2019; 18: 42.Published online 2019 Jul 27. doi: 10.1186/s12937-019-0467-x
  9. S Pilz, S Frisch, H Koertke, et al. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men Horm Metab Res. 2011 Mar;43(3):223-5. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1269854. Epub 2010 Dec 10. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21154195/
  10. MG Villanueva, CJ Lane, and ET Schroeder Influence of Rest Interval Length on Acute Testosterone and Cortisol Responses to Volume-Load Equated Total Body Hypertrophic and Strength Protocols J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Oct; 26(10): 2755–2764.doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182651fbe
  11. Vedat Cinar, Yahya Polat, Abdulkerim Kasim Baltaci, et al. Effects of magnesium supplementation on testosterone levels of athletes and sedentary subjects at rest and after exhaustion Biol Trace Elem Res. 2011 Apr;140(1):18-23. doi: 10.1007/s12011-010-8676-3. Epub 2010 Mar 30. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20352370/
  12. Vitamin and mineral supplements – what to know Reviewed on: 08-07-2022 Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/vitamin-and-minerals
  13. Adrian L. Lopresti, Peter D. Drummond, and Stephen J. Smith A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Study Examining the Hormonal and Vitality Effects of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in Aging, Overweight Males Am J Mens Health. 2019 Mar-Apr; 13(2): 1557988319835985.Published online 2019 Mar 10. doi: 10.1177/1557988319835985
  14. Mary Ann Emanuele and Nicholas V. Emanuele Alcohol’s Effects on Male Reproduction Alcohol Health Res World. 1998; 22(3): 195–201.
  15. Dimas Bagus Prastyo, Melda Deliana, Yazid Dimyati, et al. The Effect of Psychological Stress on Salivary Testosterone in Puberty Children Open Access Maced J Med Sci. 2018 Sep 25; 6(9): 1611–1616.Published online 2018 Sep 18. doi: 10.3889/oamjms.2018.321
  16. Federica Di Guardo, Veerle Vloeberghs, Erlisa Bardhi, et al. Low Testosterone and Semen Parameters in Male Partners of Infertile Couples Undergoing IVF with a Total Sperm Count Greater than 5 Million J Clin Med. 2020 Dec; 9(12): 3824.Published online 2020 Nov 26. doi: 10.3390/jcm9123824
  17. Mark Ng Tang Fui, Philippe Dupuis, and Mathis Grossmann Lowered testosterone in male obesity: mechanisms, morbidity and management Asian J Androl. 2014 Mar-Apr; 16(2): 223–231.Published online 2014 Jan 20. doi: 10.4103/1008-682X.122365
  18. Nazem Bassil, Saad Alkaade, and John E Morley The benefits and risks of testosterone replacement therapy: a review Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2009; 5: 427–448.Published online 2009 Jun 22. doi: 10.2147/tcrm.s3025
  19. E. Charles Osterberg, Aaron M. Bernie, and Ranjith Ramasamy Risks of testosterone replacement therapy in men Indian J Urol. 2014 Jan-Mar; 30(1): 2–7.doi: 10.4103/0970-1591.124197
  20. Ahmad Majzoub and Edmund Sabanegh, Jr Testosterone replacement in the infertile man Transl Androl Urol. 2016 Dec; 5(6): 859–865.doi: 10.21037/tau.2016.08.03

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