When many people think of someone with a high level of testosterone, they may picture a man loaded with strength, sexual prowess, and machismo. But while high-T has been correlated with all those things, it’s also been correlated with aggression, sexual misconduct, and violence. One of testosterone’s most common uses—as a performance-enhancing steroid—illustrates both sides of the hormone. Injecting steroids can be a quick way for athletes to dramatically improve performance, but the side effects can also be extreme, and can include excessive body hair growth, sexual dysfunction, and the hard-to-corral anger known as “roid rage.”
For people who are worried about low or high testosterone, a doctor may perform a blood test to measure the amount of the hormone in the patient's blood. When doctors find low-T, they may prescribe testosterone therapy, in which the patient takes an artificial version of the hormone. This is available in the following forms: a gel to be applied to the upper arms, shoulders or abdomen daily; a skin patch put on the body or scrotum twice a day; a solution applied to the armpit; injections every two or three weeks; a patch put on the gums twice a day; or implants that last four to six months.
Mínguez-Alarcón, L., Chavarro, J. E., Mendiola, J., Roca, M., Tanrikut, C., Vioque, J., ... Torres-Cantero, A. M. (2017, March–April). Fatty acid intake in relation to reproductive hormones and testicular volume among young healthy men [Abstract]. Asian Journal of Andrology, 19(2), 184–190. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27834316
Testosterone is more than a “male sex hormone”. It is an important contributor to the robust metabolic functioning of multiple bodily systems. The abuse of anabolic steroids by athletes over the years has been one of the major detractors from the investigation and treatment of clinical states that could be caused by or related to male hypogonadism. The unwarranted fear that testosterone therapy would induce prostate cancer has also deterred physicians form pursuing more aggressively the possibility of hypogonadism in symptomatic male patients. In addition to these two mythologies, many physicians believe that testosterone is bad for the male heart. The classical anabolic agents, 17-alkylated steroids, are, indeed, potentially harmful to the liver, to insulin action to lipid metabolism. These substances, however, are not testosterone, which has none of these adverse effects. The current evidence, in fact, strongly suggests that testosterone may be cardioprotective. There is virtually no evidence to implicate testosterone as a cause of prostate cancer. It may exacerbate an existing prostate cancer, although the evidence is flimsy, but it does not likely cause the cancer in the first place. Testosterone has stimulatory effects on bones, muscles, erythropoietin, libido, mood and cognition centres in the brain, penile erection. It is reduced in metabolic syndrome and diabetes and therapy with testosterone in these conditions may provide amelioration by lowering LDL cholesterol, blood sugar, glycated hemoglobin and insulin resistance. The best measure is bio-available testosterone which is the fraction of testosterone not bound to sex hormone binding globulin. Several forms of testosterone administration are available making compliance much less of an issue with testosterone replacement therapy.
On the average, you need to sleep at least 8 hours per night to stay healthy. If you want a night sleep to contribute to the maximum testosterone production, it’s important to make your sleep comfortable. Thus, the bedroom temperature shouldn’t exceed 21°C. In addition, you should ventilate your bedroom thoroughly before sleeping. Furthermore, before going to bed, don’t overload your stomach with fatty foods, as well as don’t drink alcohol and caffeinated beverages. Finally, you have to avoid intense physical activity before bedtime.6
Levels of testosterone naturally decrease with age, but exactly what level constitutes "low T," or hypogonadism, is controversial, Harvard Medical School said. Testosterone levels vary wildly, and can even differ depending on the time of day they're measured (levels tend to be lower in the evenings). The National Institutes of Health includes the following as possible symptoms of low testosterone:
A lifelong habit of learning and engaging in mentally challenging activities seems to keep the brain in shape. Intellectual enrichment and learning stimulate the brain to make more connections, increasing the density of nerve-to-nerve connections. That means the "educated brain" may possess a deeper well of connections and be able to withstand more damage to the brain from a small stroke without causing loss of memory or thinking skills.
Testosterone fluctuates according to age and life circumstance, often plummeting at the onset of parenthood, and spiking (for some) during moments of triumph. Romantic relationships, too, can impact a person’s testosterone production; though the reasons are still not fully understood, entering a relationship tends to increase women’s testosterone levels, while decreasing men’s. Since males produce significantly more testosterone than females—about 20 times more each day—females can be more sensitive to these fluctuations. High levels of testosterone, particularly in men, have been correlated with a greater likelihood of getting divorced or engaging in extramarital affairs, though a causal link has not been established.
While testosterone stimulates a man’s sex drive, it also aids in achieving and maintaining an erection. Testosterone alone doesn’t cause an erection, but it stimulates receptors in the brain to produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a molecule that helps trigger a series of chemical reactions necessary for an erection to occur. When testosterone levels are too low, a man may have difficulty achieving an erection prior to sex or having spontaneous erections (for example, during sleep).
Zinc is involved in virtually every aspect of male reproduction, including testosterone metabolism. Several studies support the use of zinc for treating low sperm counts, especially when accompanied by low testosterone levels. In these studies, zinc has shown an ability to raise both sperm counts and testosterone levels. Many men may be suffering from low testosterone simply because of a zinc deficiency. Taking 30–45 mg of zinc per day is recommended; balance with 2–3 mg of copper for best results.
Findings that improvements in serum glucose, serum insulin, insulin resistance or glycemic control, in men treated with testosterone are accompanied by reduced measures of central obesity, are in line with other studies showing a specific effect of testosterone in reducing central or visceral obesity (Rebuffe-Scrive et al 1991; Marin, Holmang et al 1992). Furthermore, studies that have shown neutral effects of testosterone on glucose metabolism have not measured (Corrales et al 2004), or shown neutral effects (Lee et al 2005) (Tripathy et al 1998; Bhasin et al 2005) on central obesity. Given the known association of visceral obesity with insulin resistance, it is possible that testosterone treatment of hypogonadal men acts to improve insulin resistance and diabetes through an effect in reducing central obesity. This effect can be explained by the action of testosterone in inhibiting lipoprotein lipase and thereby reducing triglyceride uptake into adipocytes (Sorva et al 1988), an action which seems to occur preferentially in visceral fat (Marin et al 1995; Marin et al 1996). Visceral fat is thought to be more responsive to hormonal changes due to a greater concentration of androgen receptors and increased vascularity compared with subcutaneous fat (Bjorntorp 1996). Further explanation of the links between hypogonadism and obesity is offered by the hypogonadal-obesity-adipocytokine cycle hypothesis (see Figure 1). In this model, increases in body fat lead to increases in aromatase levels, in addition to insulin resistance, adverse lipid profiles and increased leptin levels. Increased action of aromatase in metabolizing testosterone to estrogen, reduces testosterone levels which induces further accumulation of visceral fat. Higher leptin levels and possibly other factors, act at the pituitary to suppress gonadotrophin release and exacerbate hypogonadism (Cohen 1999; Kapoor et al 2005). Leptin has also been shown to reduce testosterone secretion from rodent testes in vitro (Tena-Sempere et al 1999). A full review of the relationship between testosterone, insulin resistance and diabetes can be found elsewhere (Kapoor et al 2005; Jones 2007).
Your first step should be to see your doctor. If you think you have low testosterone, we cannot stress enough that you should proceed with caution and talk to a medical professional — taking a booster can definitely do more harm than good. Low testosterone can be a symptom of more serious problems, like a pituitary disorder or a side-effect of medication, and a booster can mask the root cause. A doctor will be able to evaluate your testosterone levels with a simple blood test, and if you both decide a booster is the way to go, give the ingredients of any supplement a once-over to make sure that they’re not at risk of making your personal health situation worse.
There have been case reports of development of prostate cancer in patients during treatment with testosterone, including one case series of twenty patients (Gaylis et al 2005). It is not known whether this reflects an increase in incidence, as prostate cancer is very common and because the monitoring for cancer in patients treated with testosterone is greater. Randomized controlled trials of testosterone treatment have found a low incidence of prostate cancer and they do not provide evidence of a link between testosterone treatment and the development of prostate cancer (Rhoden and Morgentaler 2004). More large scale clinical trials of longer durations of testosterone replacement are required to confirm that testosterone treatment does not cause prostate cancer. Overall, it is not known whether testosterone treatment of aging males with hypogonadism increases the risk of prostate cancer, but monitoring for the condition is clearly vital. This should take the form of PSA blood test and rectal examination every three months for the first year of treatment and yearly thereafter (Nieschlag et al 2005). Age adjusted PSA reference ranges should be used to identify men who require further assessment. The concept of PSA velocity is also important and refers to the rate of increase in PSA per year. Patients with abnormal rectal examination suggestive of prostate cancer, PSA above the age specific reference range or a PSA velocity greater than 0.75 ng/ml/yr should be referred to a urologist for consideration of prostate biopsy.
Elevated testosterone levels have been demonstrated to increase the growth of body muscles and contribute to better activation of the nervous system, resulting in more power and strength, a better mood, enhanced libido, and many other benefits. Previous researches done on the anabolic role of testosterone and its impact on muscular strength in training-induced adaptations has provided rather conflicting findings, and a positive correlation between testosterone-mediated responses and both functional performance and body composition was found.[4,5] There are a number of naturally occurring substances that can boost testosterone levels in the body. Foods containing such substances are known as testosterone-foods; and they tend to be rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals like zinc, which plays a key role in testosterone production.[2,6-8]
"A lot of the symptoms are mirrored by other medical problems," Hedges says. "And for a long time, we were not attributing them to low testosterone, but to diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease. But awareness and appreciation of low testosterone has risen. We recognize now that low testosterone may be at the root of problems."