What we need to know-Testosterone Basics:
Many people have heard about the term “testosterone”. It mainly means male hormone, which actually is not true since it must be present in both in males and females but in different quantities. It has many actions in the body mainly in bone density, muscle mass, and sexual drive. These are again true for both sexes. Testosterone levels are not the equivalent of estrogen for women. Although they are used as counterparts, they actually have different actions and life spans. Testosterone production is at its highest in a man’s early adulthood and drops a little bit each year thereafter. Main estrogen source is the ovaries in the females and once they run out of enough ovaries (this is what happens in the menopause) the estrogen levels dramatically decrease. In men, however, production of testosterone is a lifelong process and age-related numerical decreases of testosterone are misdiagnosed as the male equivalent of menopause-andropause. The term for an age-related decrease of testosterone levels has changed to ADAM Syndrome (Androgen Deficiency of the Aging Male). To diagnose ADAM Syndrome the patient must have symptoms along with or without decreased hormonal levels. Low- testosterone is not all age-related. The testicles might be affected by various environmental, dietary or metabolic factors even in early ages. This clinical situation is called ‘Hypogonadism’. Testosterone assessment should not be based solely on biochemical test results but the symptomatology and the body habitus of the patient.
What are the symptoms of low testosterone hormone?
There are various symptoms related to low testosterone levels. They can include a wide variety and if one or more of these symptoms you should definitely visit a doctor:
- low energy
- depression or sadness
- decreased motivation
- lowered self-confidence
- difficulty concentrating
- insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- increased body fat
- reduced muscle mass and feelings of physical weakness
- gynecomastia, or development of breasts
- decreased bone density
- erectile dysfunction
- reduced libido
You may also experience swollen or tender breasts, decreased testicle size, loss of body hair, or hot flashes. Low levels of testosterone associated with male menopause have also been linked to osteoporosis. This is a condition where your bones become weak and brittle. These are rare symptoms. They typically affect men at the same age as women entering menopause.
How to improve testosterone levels naturally:
If you have some signs mentioned above there are a couple of ways to cope with them. Lifestyle changes, exercise, e testosterone-healthy diet, losing weight may improve your symptoms more than you can imagine. When the testosterone levels are low and you still have some symptoms, a hormone replacement therapy is necessary. Here are a couple of lifestyle change advice for you:
- Get a Good Night’s Sleep: Sleep is a major factor is a healthy life. The whole body recharges and runs a checkup during different phases of sleep. It has been shown that lack of enough sleep or diminished sleep quality (such as snoring or sleep apnea) reduces testosterone levels even in the young population. How much sleep your body needs depends on many factors. Most adults generally need about 8 hours per night in order to function well and lead a healthy life. The sleep quality should also be good.
- Lose That Excess Weight: Population-based studies have shown that overweight and especially pre-diabetes are related to decreased testosterone levels. Fat tissues are actually not just storage facilities but they also play an important endocrinological (hormonal) role. Testosterone has different forms and it can also be converted into some forms of estrogen (The female hormone). These alternative forms (mainly DHEA and estradiol) have adverse effects of the testosterone activities. Even if the person has normal levels of testosterone in blood tests when evaluated with symptoms due to obesity may be evident. It has been shown that losing weight boosts testosterone production as well as activity. For weight control, a healthy diet and a good amount of exercise should be mandated. An extreme diet is not recommended as a starving body again will not produce enough testosterone.
- Good supplementation: A testosterone-friendly diet will help your body produce more hormones. Zinc is one of the dietary supplements which has proven efficacy in hormone production. A healthy diet should include around 11 mg of zinc a day in the adult male. Shellfish, red meat and poultry are all rich on zinc. Beans, whole grain products and also nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts, and pistachios are testosterone-friendly supplements. In today’s world to have more crop and more produce hormones are seldom used. Please do keep away from these products and try to be on the organic side.
- Cut the sugar: World Endocrine Society has proven that high blood sugar levels decrease testosterone levels as much as 25%. This true for diabetics, pre-diabetics and also for those whose blood sugar level is in normal ranges.
- Exercise… Exercise..: A good old fashion exercise stimulates our body to produce hormones. With endorphins and other chemicals stimulated in your body both your body starts to produce more testosterone and also the mood is unregulated. A 30-minute exercise daily or at least three times a week has a very positive effect on body endurance, mood and sexual drive.
To take hormone replacement therapy: Who? When? Why? Why not?
Taking a hormone pill or injection or gel might seem to be the easiest way to keep the hormones at an efficient level, but flash news it isn’t. Hormone replacement therapies should be reserved for men suffering from low testosterone activity and cannot improve it with daily life changes. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be applied in any age group as long as it is medically indicated. This is not only for a sexual drive but also given to overcome the symptoms of low testosterone such as depression, low mood, muscular decrease, forgetfulness, bone density decreases and even for daily functions of men. HRT must be used under the supervision of a doctor.
Using an exogenous (taken from outside sources than your own body) hormone has beneficial effects when used properly and have detrimental effects when used when not indicated or in a wrong way. Our body has a check mechanism for hormonal balances. These balances are very precise and promote or block the hormonal production depending on the level of hormones in your system and the necessity of your body. Once taken from outside when the level is actually sufficient, your body senses the excessive amount and sends signals to your gonads to produce the hormones. When the effective life of the exogenous hormone is over you have a steep fall of hormonal levels even lower than the initial measurements since your body does not produce anymore. When repetitive hormonal replacement or overuse is done than the testicular tissues start to shrink and the condition becomes irreversible. The principles of a good HRT:
- Use it only when necessary
- A healthy lifestyle and weight loss together with a good diet program should be initiated before giving any hormones and should continue even if there is still a necessity of hormonal use
- Hormones should be dosed carefully for each patient
- Close monitorization of symptoms and lab results is mandatory
- The therapy of choice should not aim just to increase the level of hormones in circulation but also to ensure your body also produces enough hormones to replace the missing levels once you cut the exogenous replacement.
Low Testosterone levels and associated symptoms are not easy to be diagnosed by just a doctor’s visit. You should personally evaluate yourself in terms of sexual desire, erection problems, mood, muscular strength, forgetfulness. If you feel like any of these functions are not what they used to be please do contact us. The solution may be very simple and your quality of the life increase will be unmatched.