Testosterone declines naturally as men grow older, but this often causes many unwanted side effects, and it can even increase the risk of health problems. Studies have found that one out of four American men over the age of 30 has low testosterone, and one in 20 struggle with clinically significant symptoms.
What Defines Low Testosterone?
Testosterone is considered clinically low when levels fall to 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) for total testosterone, and five ng/dL for free (unbound) testosterone. Free testosterone refers to the amount that is not attached to other proteins and is circulating freely in the body. Levels of free testosterone are more important since this form is what actually provides noticeable effects. For example, a man’s level of total testosterone can be normal or high, but if his free testosterone is low, he will still suffer from symptoms of low testosterone.
Symptoms of Low Testosterone
Low testosterone causes a wide variety of symptoms and related problems. The hormone is essential for many aspects of health, happiness and well-being, and indeed, it is what keeps men feeling youthful and energetic. Some of the effects of low testosterone can include:
- Increased body fat and diminished muscle mass
- Decreases in strength
- Difficulty sleeping
- Irritability, mood swings, depression and anxiety
- Erectile dysfunction and low libido
- Declines in cognitive function
- Inability to concentrate
- Fatigue and lack of motivation
- Becoming worn out easily
- Diminished bone density (osteoporosis)
- Lack of satisfaction from completing goals or projects
- Increased susceptibility to feeling overwhelmed and stressed
- Gynecomastia (male breast development)
- Increased risks of enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, dementia, heart disease and diabetes
Causes of Low Testosterone
While natural aging is the biggest cause of low testosterone, a variety of lifestyle factors can also contribute. A major one is a lack of sleep. Indeed, missing just one hour of sleep can reduce testosterone levels by up to 15 percent. Other potential factors include:
- Consumption of soy, flax, sesame and other foods rich in phytoestrogens, which directly reduce testosterone levels
- Overindulgence in alcoholic beverages and especially beer, since hops are high in phytoestrogens
- Sedentary lifestyle
- A nutrient-poor diet high in processed foods
How Can Low Testosterone Be Helped?
Taking steps to adopt healthy lifestyle habits can help and are strongly recommended, but they will not completely solve the problem. After all, eating well and exercising can boost your hormone levels much more when aging leaves your body incapable of producing them in sufficient quantities.
At Innovative Medicine, we recommend that men who struggle with low testosterone undergo hormone replacement therapy in the form of testosterone injections. Many men who receive these injections report feeling young, vibrant and energetic again. To find out if you might be a good candidate for testosterone injections, please contact our Lafayette office today to schedule your consultation.