When we think of a man being “turned on” or aroused, we ascribe that behavior to the testosterone running through his veins.
But, what’s with the deal with testosterone? And why’s it so important to a man’s libido that so many people in our lives seem to be talking about it?
Answer: Testosterone is a hormone, produced primarily by the testicles of male mammals (which, of course, includes humans), and sparingly by ovaries in their female counterparts.
As a steroid hormone, testosterone is responsible mainly for maintaining muscle strength and form as well as the male sex drive. That’s why small amounts of this hormone are also produced by the adrenal glands to boost a person’s energy level whenever the situation demands it.
With the onset of puberty, young boys experience certain subtle changes in their body. They include:
- Growth of hair on their chest, arms, legs, and pubic areas
- Increase in muscle and bone strength and change in form and size
- Onset and gradual increase in libido or sex drive
- Deepening of voice
- Development of sex organs (becomes larger and functional)
These changes usually pick up the pace gradually, with age, as the testosterone level in their system increases.
Unlike girls, for whom, puberty is pretty much a quick change, spanning over a year or two, it’s very gradual for men. Men reach adulthood slower and later than women and lose their youthful vigor slower than women as well.
Like women undergoing changes in their body during menopause, men, too, undergo certain changes as their body loses the capacity to produce enough testosterone to keep up their sex drive and muscle form and strength.
While it usually occurs over a long period for men as they age, there are also other times when men may lose their vigor and feel fatigued due to unexpected slump in their testosterone level.
So, why and when does the testosterone level drop among men?
When & Why Does the Testosterone Level Dip?
Testosterone production in men, generally, reduces with age. It is seen that a large majority of men start experiencing a slump in their sex drive in their mid-60s that gradually progresses in their 70s.
But old age isn’t the only reason for the drop in testosterone levels. There can be other reasons for it too!
In fact, since the mid-’80s and early ’90s, a discernible pattern of lowering libido and testosterone levels have been noticed among adult men across the nation. And this is among men who are still not of the aging category.
So, what are these reasons?
Doctors and scientists have credited this decline to several reasons, such as:
- Thyroid Problems
- Depression and/or Anxiety
- High Cholesterol
- High BP
- Coronary Artery Disease
- Sexual Dysfunction
These are mostly the fallouts of our modern-day living that have mostly left us struggling to lead a normal life. That is more so because of…
- What we eat
- When we eat
- The way we eat
- Sleep pattern
- Sleep schedule
- Sleep duration
And that is not to mention the fact that a large section of the American middle- and upper-classes spend a major part of their day confined to their office/home seats. Although not a typical sedentary lifestyle, this is still the closest thing to it, making these sections of the society more susceptible to the above-mentioned conditions.
Even though the life expectancy of humans in the First World has increased manifold over the decades, thanks to advancements in medical science, still the quality of life isn’t as good as one would expect. That is mostly due to the huge changes in people’s lifestyles in recent times.
This is the reason for many spouses to lose interest in sex in their marriage within a short period of their conjugal life.
To better understand the signs, read on…
Signs of Low Testosterone Level
If there is a sudden or a drastic (even if it happens gradually) fall in a man’s testosterone production, there will be certain changes in his body, his behavior, and temperament.
If it drops well below the normal range (the normal range for individuals differ widely, but 300 to 1,000 ng/dL is considered as the normal range), there will various kinds of changes, some subtle, some a little more obvious.
Here are some of the signs that indicate that there has been a substantial drop in the testosterone production, i.e. the person has low T. These include some very personal symptoms, which only you and your partner may notice, and some that will be externally obvious to everyone around you.
Personal or Intimate Changes
Low sex drive:
The key role of this hormone is to maintain a man’s libido or sex drive. Even the slightest change in its level will impact the individual’s libido. Men losing interest in sex with age is usually due to low T or at least a decline in their testosterone production.
Difficulties with erection:
For a couple to have a fulfilling experience during sex, the man must be able to achieve and retain an erection. Although testosterone alone isn’t responsible for the erection, it is essential. Its role is to stimulate the receptors in the brain linked to a man’s sex drive to release nitric oxide that directly causes the erection and retains it. For a sufficient amount of nitric oxide to be produced so that it triggers a big enough chemical reaction that can lead to an erection and then retain it, the testosterone production needs to be adequate. When the testosterone level in the body is very low, a man may not be able to get a full erection before sex or have trouble keeping it during the course of intercourse. Sometimes, such a person may experience spontaneous erections (like during sleep). This condition is known as erectile dysfunction.
However, inadequate erections are not entirely due to low testosterone levels. Other reasons that may also play a role include diabetes, thyroid gland issues, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and drinking habits, mental issues like depression and anxiety, and even work-related stress.
Low semen volume:
Semen is the milky bodily fluid that is released from a man’s penis during ejaculation. This liquid is what helps carry the sperms from a man’s body into a woman’s uterus. This gives the man’s swimmers mobility to swim better and reach their target. When a man’s body produces less testosterone, the volume of the semen released will also be visibly lower than normal. This affects a man’s ability to impregnate a woman.
A decrease in testicular size:
Testicles (also known as testes) are the pair of oval-shaped male organs, attached to a man’s body below the penis and housed within the scrotum. The testes are linked with each other with the help of a bundle of nerves and tissues known as the spermatic cord. Usually, a single testicle is around 4 x 3 x 2 cm in size. While one is usually slightly smaller than the other, sometimes due to low testosterone levels in a man’s body, the penis and testes may not develop adequately. Bear in mind, that low T is not the only reason for poor development of testicles and/or penis.
Deterioration in Muscle Mass:
Since testosterone plays a role in developing muscles, men with low-T are often seen to experience reduced growth in muscle mass. Those who have undergone a decrease in testosterone levels later on in their lives have also exhibited a degradation in their muscle mass. However, studies are not conclusive on whether or not the strength or function of those muscles also reduces due to the drop in testosterone.
Decreased bone mass
Although a condition often associated with women’s health, osteoporosis, i.e. the thinning of bone mass can affect men too, especially if they have low testosterone, as testosterone is instrumental in building and strengthening bone mass. That’s why, older men, who have low testosterone levels exhibit low bone density and volume. This condition makes their bone more brittle, and hence more vulnerable to fractures.
Outwardly Visible Changes
Testosterone levels also affect some external aspects of a man’s body, which include hair production all over the body. Besides, balding, for which genetics also play a role, men with low T may also undergo loss of body hair and facial hair.
Testosterone is also responsible for keeping up physical energy among men. That is why when testosterone levels drop, men experience extreme fatigue. If someone feels tired all the time, despite getting adequate sleep and nutrition, chances are that he has low T.
Increased body fat
As the bone and muscle mass decrease, men with low testosterone levels experience a rise in body fat. In such men, it is not just the body fat; they also develop gynecomastia – a condition in which the breast tissue enlarges. Bear in mind that like women have low levels of testosterone, men too have low levels of estrogen. In men with low T, the estrogen tends to take over, leading to the enlargement of the breast tissue.
Moods are regulated by hormones in mammals, humans included. That is why men with low T can experience mood swings and lowered mental capacity to withstand stress. Among other physiological changes, men with low testosterone levels also experience depression, anxiety, irritability, anger, and decreased commitment to intellectual activity.
Loss of Memory:
Like the ability to focus on work and carry out mental processes effortlessly, the presence of testosterone in men also aids their cognitive functions, especially memory. With age, this ability also declines. Doctors usually attribute this issue to a decrease in testosterone levels. However, placebo-controlled, human studies have not been able to prove beyond doubt that testosterone supplementation can aid in improving memory-related issues in older men with low levels.
Medically diagnosed symptoms
Low blood count
Apart from the loss of bone and muscle volume, memory, and mood regulation, loss of normal production of this hormone may also lead to anemia, i.e. low blood count. Anemia can lead to further physical issues, such as trouble concentrating on work or conversations, dizziness, sleep disorders, muscle cramping, especially of the legs, rapid heart rate, and hypertension. A controlled clinical trial has shown that testosterone supplementation can improve blood counts among anemic men with low testosterone.
When Does It Become Necessary To Boost Testosterone?
While it is true that testosterone levels reduce with age, we’ve seen how it affects the normal functioning of a human being. When testosterone levels reduce prematurely or if its reduction prevents a person from leading a normal or near-normal life (in old age), it is sometimes advisable to look for ways to boost the testosterone levels in a person’s body.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) is typically considered as the normal range.
When someone notices the above-mentioned signs (of low T), one should visit the doctor as it may indicate that the blood testosterone level has fallen below 300 ng/dL. A doctor would ideally conduct a blood test, known as serum testosterone test to ascertain the level of testosterone circulating in the person’s blood system.
How to Maintain and Boost Testosterone Levels?
As you must have well understood by now – maintaining healthy levels of hormone production is essential not only for sex life but also for preventing various kinds of diseases and maintaining overall health and wellbeing.
Maintaining optimum sex hormones and the health of your sex organs is not only necessary for women, but men as well. This is especially true among the elderly. That’s why we’ve put together these mostly natural and some alternate ways to boost your testosterone levels.
Exercising is not only for young adults. It is important for aging people too, especially since you’re losing your usual muscle tone, growing a belly, and losing interest in the usual life activities and diet.
Research shows overweight men tend to have lower than normal testosterone levels. This is even true among teens and young adults. In a study, published in the Clinical Endocrinology, obese males between 14 and 20 years of age were found to have around 50% lower testosterone levels than normal-bodied men of the same age group. Studies show that increased physical activity helps obese men keep up their testosterone levels better than a weight loss diet can.
Research shows that men who regularly exercised had higher testosterone levels. Besides, exercising among elderly men heightens testosterone levels, fitness, and reaction time. While weight loss may aid in keeping up a healthy level of testosterone, another study indicated that maintaining a higher physical activity level throughout the week is far more helpful than simply losing unnecessary weight.
Stick to a Healthy Diet:
Regulating your diet to suit your health and making sure to stick to a healthy diet is essential not only to improve your testosterone levels but also for your overall wellbeing. It’s an important aspect of human life. However, with age, one’s needs for a good, healthy, high-quality diet becomes more important. As the hormone levels reduce, so do their effects. And that means you need extra nutritional help to maintain your hormone levels, and in turn, keep up the normal functioning of your body and mind. Bear in mind: Cutting down on your diet or overeating prevents hinders adequate weight loss.
If you’re looking for natural ways to boost your testosterone production, you can check out these foods:
- Proteins: Very low protein intake can be detrimental to your health. You may want to add lean chicken, fish, and eggs to your diet. About 5 to 6 ounces a day is a good enough addition to your daily diet. Sufficient protein intake aids in maintaining a healthy level of proteins in your body as well as losing fats that also leads to low T.
- Saturated Fats: Research also suggests that adequate healthy fats are also beneficial for testosterone production and sex hormone-related health. For instance, nuts, like almonds, cashews, and peanuts; oils like hemp oil, extra-virgin olive oil, fatty fish and fish oil, like those from salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, trout, etc. These boost heart health, prevent cancer, and are good, natural sources of Vitamin D.
- Carbs complement a high-intensity training regimen: If you’re following the rule to exercise daily, you’d need carbs to help regulate testosterone levels during training. Besides, carbs offer the feel-good nutrition that is essential when you’re putting your body through wear and tear. Carbs prevent stress to a certain extent.
- Vitamins: Research shows that vitamin B supplementation increases sperm quality by 74%. Meanwhile, further tests have indicated that vitamins A, C, and E play a role in regulating the production of sex hormones, including testosterone. However, the vitamin that matters the most for maintaining testosterone levels seems to be vitamin D. That is why it is advised to consume fortified plant milk, like those of almonds, soy, hemp, and flax, etc. for their high proportions of Vitamin D content. It has been become a trend among many brands these days to fortify their orange juices, dairy products, and cereals with Vitamin D. Other natural and highly potent sources of Vitamin D are fatty fish (and the oil extracted from them), such as salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, trout, etc.
- Minerals: Mollusks, like oysters, are great for boosting your T-level. Oysters are well-known for their fertility-enhancing properties, as they contain high amounts of zinc. Besides, consuming leafy green veggies like spinach, beans, lentils, almonds, cashews, peanuts, seeds, whole grains that are rich in magnesium can help testosterone levels return to normal if magnesium-deficiency is the cause for its decrease. Meanwhile, pomegranates are a great source of iron that is needed to produce red blood cells with the help of testosterone. If you’re trying to boost your testosterone levels, you must take a lot of iron (through food) to keep up the blood cell count. Inversely, if the red blood production slows down and testosterone reduces, you are headed for anemia. as the T-hormone metabolized iron to create red blood cells. Besides, pomegranate hinders the release of cortisol (stress hormone) that accompanies low-T.
- Add ginger, onions to your food: Both onions and ginger raise hormone levels in the body that trigger testosterone production. Besides, natural plant chemicals, known as flavonoids, contained in these herbs protect sperms against damage.
- Avoid processed foods, canned or plastic-packaged foods: Fried and processed foods have been found to be detrimental to the production of testosterone and other sex hormones when compared to veggie-seafood and dairy-grain dietary patterns. A recent study that dealt with the interrelation of meat intake and reproductive parameters among young men in the US, it was found that processed red meat consumption can lead to low sperm count. Another recent study, published in the Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, suggested that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages by 20–39 years old males can lower their serum testosterone levels.
A similar pattern was observed with consuming canned foods and foods/drinks wrapped or contained in plastic containers. This is due to the presence of Bisphenol-A (BPA) and parabens, as they affect the testis and pituitary systems.
[We will discuss more on this in detail in a later section.]
Get Loads of Sunlight:
Sunlight is the most natural, potent, and purest source of Vitamin D. A 2012 Clinical Endocrinology (Oxford) randomized controlled trial indicated a positive correlation between vitamin D and testosterone.
Get Adequate Rest & a Good Night’s Sleep:
If you’re unable to sleep well – it happens with age – get some help. Sleep is essential for the normal production of sex hormones. People who don’t get adequate rest and sleep often suffer from hormonal disbalance. In fact, sleep deprivation and lack of sleep or sleeplessness have been long associated with low T. According to a 2011 paper, published by The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), getting only 5 hours of sleep a night can reduce testosterone levels among young healthy adult men by 15%. Moreover, according to a 2019 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, impaired sleep is linked with low T among men between the ages of 16 and 80 in the United States.
Reduce Stress in Life:
Try to avoid stressful situations – at work or at home. Talk to someone you trust completely and sort out your problems. Never let stress, anxiety, and depression get the better of you. Remember cortisol (stress hormone) buildup in the blood system is never good for the normal functioning of the body. And that includes hormone production. According to a 2018 Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences article, stress can significantly reduce testosterone levels in the body in adolescent children. You can only imagine how much it would affect the elderly who are, in any case, on the downhill path as far as their hormones are concerned.
We’ve all heard the phrase: “Smoking Kills”. What’s more, some studies have suggested that smoking is linked to testicular and erectile dysfunction. Although studies on the relation of smoking and nicotine intake with testosterone levels are still inconclusive, with some even suggesting smoking increases T-levels, someone who is already having low T will face more problems during sex if they continue smoking.
Avoid Alcohol & Drugs:
Alcohol and drug abuse have been linked to reduced testosterone levels among men across the US. In a National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism article, doctors Mary Ann Emanuele and Nicholas Emanuele have pointed out that “alcohol use affects the glands and hormones involved in male reproductive health”. Their research showed that excessive alcohol use can decrease testosterone and increase estradiol (a female hormone) among men. Another 2009 study, both smoking, and alcohol adversely affect men’s hormones and health. As for drug abuse, it has been the most recognized cause of possible alterations of steroidogenesis and spermatogenesis among all unhealthy lifestyles prevalent in the Western countries. According to a more recent study, published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, substance and drug abuse is a “potentially reversible cause of hypogonadism”, marked by the testes’ failure to produce adequate testosterone and/or a normal quantity of sperms.
Review your Prescription Medication:
While illicit drugs can harm your sex organs and hormone generation, so can prescription drugs. Surprised? Well, it is true. Doctors prescribe medications to treat or manage a certain health problem or symptom. However, most pharmaceutical drugs, like heart problems, tend to have some side effects that include inhibiting testosterone production and reducing its levels in the body. According to a 2013 review, published in BMC Medicine, statins (medications used to lower blood cholesterol) can potentially hinder testosterone generation.
Avoid xenoestrogen & estrogen-like products/compounds
Drinking or eating in containers made from estrogen-like chemical compounds, like Bisphenol-A (BPA), parabens and other chemicals found in certain types of plastics, can be detrimental to the production of testosterone. These endocrine disruptors are usually found as an ingredient in plastic containers, women’s hygiene products, toiletries, receipts printed by a thermal printer, CDs and DVDs, household electronics, eyeglass lenses, sports equipment, dental filling sealants, etc. Avoid using plastic containers for storing food and drinks (including water); choose glass containers instead. A 2010 animal study on “Occupational exposure to Bisphenol-A (BPA) and the risk of self-reported male sexual dysfunction” suggested that bisphenol-A (BPA) is a “potential human endocrine disrupter”. Phthalates, another chemical compound used in plastic-making to provide the material with flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity, are also known endocrine disruptors for both men and women.
Laugh and Be Merry:
Yes, you heard that right! They say laughter is the best medicine. It sure is for keeping your entire body and mind fit! And that applies to your sex organs as well. Love, laughter, and sex – some of the most natural things in life are what keeps you healthy. Laughter wipes out stress, and, in turn, helps enhance testosterone production. In fact, happiness, in any way, has been seen to boost testosterone among humans.
Use Testosterone Supplements & Boosters:
While testosterone replacement therapy isn’t always the first thing a doctor prescribes, it’s often recommended when the body is unable to produce testosterone on its own. They’re mostly natural or are made from combinations of natural extracts. Apart from taking Vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc supplements, another easy way to naturally boost your testosterone production is to use one of the following:
- Ashwagandha (stress buster and androgen enhancer, effective even on obese men)
- Fenugreek (increases testosterone levels and stimulates morning erections)
- Dehydroepiandrosterone supplements (DHEA is a hormone, produced in the adrenal glands, which plays the role of a natural hormone booster, especially for testosterone and estrogen)
Apart from these natural testosterone boosters, your doctor may prescribe you a Testosterone Booster Supplement Pill that can effectively raise T-levels by up to 45% within a matter of weeks!
Although created and designed by different pharma brands, these are essentially made from natural extracts – combined in proportions that are optimized to boost your testosterone production efficiently and safely.
The human body is prepped for hormone generation even before he is born. That applies to sex hormones, like testosterone, as well. It is the ratio of male versus female hormones in the fetus’s body that plays a role in forming the baby’s body – right from within the mother’s womb.
As a boy grows from being a baby to an adolescent, his body undergoes a series of changes – quite like that of a girl’s, only slower. Testosterone levels in the boy’s system influence his libido, energy level, body shape, bone structure and form, muscle strength, sperm production, body fat distribution, as well as the creation of red blood cells. Just like a man’s body generates estrogen in small amounts, so does a woman’s body produce testosterone (in their ovaries and adrenal glands) at significantly low levels.
As a man grows older, is faced with tremendous and continuous stress, anxiety, or depression, suffering from some severe disease, or taking some drugs that inhibit the generation of testosterone, its levels in the body gradually decrease.
While it’s not usually a life-threatening condition, in some cases, it may cause severe anemia and eventual death. Apart from that, in most cases, it depreciates the quality of life – changes that we’ve discussed earlier in this article.
That’s why, it is often recommended that you take care and get help, when needed, to keep yourself fit, healthy, and revitalized. You can boost your testosterone levels naturally, through diet and exercise, or even opt for supplements to boost your testosterone levels.