Low testosterone effects almost every major system in the male body and has potentially serious long term health consequences. Testosterone significantly affects the brain, libido, muscles, blood, and many other aspects of male health.
A 1996 study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine
followed three groups of men. One group was given testosterone
and prescribed a strength training program, one group was given testosterone and told not to exercise and one group was just given a training program without testosterone. It was no surprise that the group which exercised on testosterone gained the most muscle and lost the most fat, but the group which took testosterone without exercise actually had greater improvement in muscle and fat composition than the group which trained without it. You can't build muscle without it!
Causes and Development; Contributing Risk Factors
Some causes of low testosterone
levels include congenital problems (such as deficiencies of male hormones and rare malformation syndromes) and acquired problems that include aging, chronic illness, drugs, starvation, stress, head trauma, infections, cancers, surgeries, alcoholism, removal of or trauma to the testicles
, and infection or twisting of the testicles in their sac. In addition, certain drugs compete with testosterone in the body.
Married males have significantly lower testosterone
levels on average. One study found that unmarried males had up to 20% higher average testosterone levels than married males.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of low testosterone
usually develop gradually, with the result that many men simply ignore them and get used to to feeling lousy and functioning poorly. Symptoms include:
- Low sex drive (libido)
- Poor erection maintenance / erectile strength
- Mental fogginess/fuzziness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle loss
- Weight gain
- Decreased facial hair
- Decreased pubic hair
- A general feeling of not caring about anything
- Poor sleep quality (leading to sleep deprivation)
Men with low testosterone often develop an attitude of not caring about anything, instead just 'existing' day-to-day. Pleasure and desire can be greatly decreased, which in turn affects most aspects of life including career and relationships.
One study of men suffering from low testosterone (average level: 268ng/dL) found the following:
- 89% reported a lack of energy
- 79% reported erectile dysfunction
- 70% reported a loss of pubic hair
- 66% percent reported a decrease in sexual endurance.
Diagnosis and Tests
levels is very simple: a blood test will produce results within a few days. The official criterion for testosterone being 'low' is 260ng/dL. This figure is in fact very low; long-term health issues generally start becoming apparent at levels below 350.
Treatment and Prevention
One study in 2008 found that almost half of the male subjects with testosterone
levels below 300ng/dL in fact had no obvious or significant symptoms. For this reason, all middle-aged men should consider having their testosterone levels tested, whether they are showing symptoms of deficiency or not.
Those with slightly low testosterone levels (in the 400-500ng/dL range) can often treat this condition naturally through sex (both sex and sexual anticipation boost testosterone levels); diet (increased monounsaturated fats, fish oil capsules, processed carbohydrate
and sugars avoidance, lower carbohydrates
in general); increased quality sleep (testosterone production increases during sleep); 'winning' and having a 'winning attitude' (in other words, a positive change of attitude.)
Sports of all kinds (including chess!) are excellent and natural testosterone boosters.
is associated with increased risk of many conditions, including heart disease, depression
, metabolic syndrome, diabetes
, cognitive impairment, osteoporosis
, cancer. A 2007 study found that low testosterone is associated with increased risk of death in general.
Once large study in 2008 found that men with testosterone levels below 250ng/dL were fatter and had lower HDL
, higher triglycerides
, higher blood pressure, and higher blood glucose
– all serious markers of poor health and high risk. These men were tracked over 18 years and were found to have a 40% higher death rate from all causes.