Men can experience a range of symptoms if testosterone decreases more than it should. Low testosterone, or low T, is diagnosed when levels fall below 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). A normal range is typically 300–1000 ng/dL, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A blood test called a serum testosterone test is used to determine your level of circulating testosterone.
A blood test may not be enough to determine your levels, because testosterone levels can fluctuate during the day. Once you determine that you do have low levels, there are a number of options to take. There are synthetic and bioidentical testosterone products out on the market, but I advise using bioidentical hormones like DHEA. DHEA is a hormone secreted by your adrenal glands. This substance is the most abundant precursor hormone in the human body. It is crucial for the creation of vital hormones, including testosterone and other sex hormones.
14. Volek JS, Volk BM, Gómez AL, Kunces LJ, Kupchak BR, Freidenreich DJ, Aristizabal JC, Saenz C, Dunn-Lewis C, Ballard KD, Quann EE, Kawiecki DL, Flanagan SD, Comstock BA, Fragala MS, Earp JE, Fernandez ML, Bruno RS, Ptolemy AS, Kellogg MD, Maresh CM, Kraemer WJ. Whey protein supplementation during resistance training augments lean body mass. J Am Coll Nutr. 2013;32(2):122-35. PMID: 24015719
Testosterone treatment is unequivocally needed in classical hypogonadism for reasons discussed in subsequent subsections. In classical hypogonadism, testosterone production is usually clearly below the lower limit of normal and patients are highly symptomatic; the various symptoms are easily related to the deficiencies in various bodily systems where testosterone action is important. Symptoms of testosterone deficiency are listed in Table 2. A few prominent causes of classical hypogonadism are listed in Table 3.
Researchers at Ball State University found that “strength training can induce growth hormone and testosterone release.” (6) Another study from the University of Nebraska Medical Center researched the acute effects of weight lifting on serum testosterone levels. (7) The results concluded that even moderate weight lifting and light weightlifting increased serum testosterone levels in participants.
"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."
Travison, T. G., Vesper, H. W., Orwoll, E, Wu, F., Kaufman, J. M., Wang, Y., …Bhasin, S. (2017, April1). Harmonized reference ranges for circulating testosterone levels in men of four cohort studies in the United States and Europe. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 102(4), 1161–1173. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/102/4/1161/2884621
Lets touch on these individually. Gluten has been shown to increase prolactin levels in male mice (48 & 49). Increased prolactin levels in males leads to all sorts of horrible things: Man Boobs (50), High inflammation (51), and most importantly, higher prolactin levels have been shown to be testosterone lowering and lead to shrinking of the testicle (52).
There are studies that show Soy consumption in humans leads to lower sperm count, but unfortunately they did not look at testosterone levels in the study (40). This (41) particular study compared the estrogen production of men drinking soy protein to those drinking whey. After two weeks they found the estradiol levels were equal, however soy drinkers had LOWER Testosterone levels and HIGHER cortisol levels (both bad).
Cognitive abilities differ between males and females and these differences are present from childhood. In broad terms, girls have stronger verbal skills than boys who tend to have stronger skills related to spatial ability (Linn and Petersen 1985). It is thought that the actions of sex hormones have a role in these differences. Reviewing different cognitive strengths of male versus female humans is not within the scope of this article but the idea that cognition could be altered by testosterone deserves attention.
There are the testosterone deficiency signs, such as loss of sexual desire, erectile dysfunction, impaired fertility, chronic fatigue, etc. But it’s not always possible to understand which medical condition caused the decrease in testosterone levels. For example, if you always feel exhausted and have no sexual desire, it may provide evidence of depression.
The unsexy truth is that increasing T naturally simply comes down to making some long-term changes in your diet and lifestyle. As you’ll see, what I did to increase T largely boils down to eating better, exercising smarter, and getting more sleep. That’s pretty much it. But as with most things in life, the devil is in the details, so I’ll share with you exactly what I did and provide research that explains why the things I did helped boost my testosterone.
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The amount of testosterone synthesized is regulated by the hypothalamic–pituitary–testicular axis (see figure to the right). When testosterone levels are low, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is released by the hypothalamus, which in turn stimulates the pituitary gland to release FSH and LH. These latter two hormones stimulate the testis to synthesize testosterone. Finally, increasing levels of testosterone through a negative feedback loop act on the hypothalamus and pituitary to inhibit the release of GnRH and FSH/LH, respectively.
While I do have a pretty manly mustache, I’m not a doctor or a medical expert. I’m a guy with a law degree he’s never used who blogs about manliness. What I’m about to share shouldn’t be taken as a substitute for qualified medical expertise. It’s simply my experience and views on the subject. Before you make any changes in lifestyle or diet, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider. Be smart.
Longjack, also known as Tongkat ali and pasak bumi, is a shrub hailing from Southeast Asia purporting to improve libido. It’s gaining traction in the scientific community for potentially increasing testosterone levels, and researchers at South Africa’s University of the Western Cape found that longjack improved testosterone levels and muscular strength in physically active seniors (a population with typically low testosterone).
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A blood test is the only way to diagnose a low testosterone level or a reduction in the bioavailability of testosterone. Some men have a lower than normal testosterone level without signs or symptoms. For most men, no treatment is needed. But for some others, very low testosterone levels lead to a condition in which bones become weak and brittle (osteoporosis). For others, low testosterone might cause changes in sexual function, sleep patterns, emotions and the body.
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
Low testosterone levels can cause mood disturbances, increased body fat, loss of muscle tone, inadequate erections and poor sexual performance, osteoporosis, difficulty with concentration, memory loss and sleep difficulties. Current research suggests that this effect occurs in only a minority (about 2%) of ageing men. However, there is a lot of research currently in progress to find out more about the effects of testosterone in older men and also whether the use of testosterone replacement therapy would have any benefits.