Low testosterone levels occur in approximately 24% of men age 30 to 70 in the United States. Several physical and mental or emotional symptoms may appear with this deficiency.
The good news is that there is treatment available to help you return to the way you used to feel and look. This article focuses on information about low testosterone.
The efficacy of Vitamin D will be examined. We will also look at the questions, does vitamin d increase testosterone. Continue reading to learn more.
What is Testosterone?
First, you must understand what testosterone is and how it affects the body.
Testosterone is a hormone found in men and women. It presents more often in men and controls male physical features. The testicles, or testes, produce this hormone.
The pituitary gland is located in the base of the brain. It tells the testicles when to produce testosterone.
The pituitary gland monitors the testosterone in the blood. It signals the testicles to decrease the production of testosterone when the body reaches a normal level.
The testosterone levels change by the hour. The levels are lowest at night and highest in the morning.
How Does Testosterone Affect the Body?
The pituitary gland triggers the testes to increase testosterone production. This occurs at puberty and the following changes occur:
- The penis and testes grow
- Facial, pubic, and body hair grows
- The vocal cords thicken causing the voice to deepen
- Muscles and bones grow and strength
- Height increases
Men need normal amounts of this hormone to make sperm and be fertile.
What Are Symptoms That You May Have a Low Testosterone Level?
What symptoms might mean that you have hypogonadism or low testosterone levels?
- A decreased sex drive or libido
- Difficulty achieving and maintaining an erection
- Low sperm count
- Enlarged or tender breasts
Later signs of a low testosterone level include:
- Decreased muscle mass
- Decreased bone strength
- Decreased energy
- Low sperm count or infertility
Certain circumstances can cause a temporary drop in the testosterone level such as:
- Too much exercise
- Poor nutrition
- Serious illness
Returning to a healthy diet and level of exercise may resolve your problem.
What Is a Normal Testosterone Level?
Scientists have struggled to define the normal range for testosterone levels.
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism published a new study establishing normal testosterone levels. Based on a study of 9,000 men, they developed a harmonized reference range for total testosterone in men.
The researchers used age-specific reference ranges in their testing. The results defined the normal testosterone range for non-obese men, ages 19 to 39 years as 264-926 ng/dl.
How is Low Testosterone Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of low testosterone involves several steps.
Blood test. A blood test determines if your testosterone level falls within the normal range. Since testosterone tends to be highest in the morning, the physician will probably order a morning blood test.
You may now order testosterone test kits online. It involves a finger stick for the blood sample. Follow the directions for performing the test and then return it in the mail.
You will receive a confidential notice of your test results.
Physical Exam. The physician will complete a physical exam to determine the following:
- Amount of body hair present
- Size of breasts, testes, scrotum, and penis
- Consistency and presence of any lumps in your testes and scrotum
- Your range of peripheral vision or how well you can see to the side without moving your head
Medical History. The doctor will want to learn about you and your family’s medical history. Questions may include:
- Changes in sex drive
- Any problems with erectile dysfunction or impotence
- Current or past illnesses
- Genetic conditions in your family
Discussing symptoms you currently have will provide the doctor with a more complete picture of how low testosterone affects you.
Diagnostic tests. The following tests look for the cause of low testosterone.
- MRI or CT scan can check the pituitary gland to look for abnormalities including tumors
- Genetic studies look for inherited conditions that result in low testosterone levels
- Hormone tests look at other hormone levels to check the function of the pituitary gland
By finding the cause of the low level, the physician can develop a treatment plan addressing the cause.
What Nutritional Patterns Affect Testosterone Levels?
Several factors can contribute to low testosterone levels. Your normal level may be at the bottom of the range. When you engage in these eating or drinking patterns, a dip in your level below the normal range may occur.
- Not eating a healthy diet
- Not exercising
- Taking certain prescription medications
If your testosterone level stays below the normal range, these activities will probably have no effect.
Alcohol Consumption and Testosterone Levels
Men have estrogen, the female sex hormone present in their body. This is normal.
Alcohol increases the breakdown of testosterone to estradiol. This occurs with regular alcohol consumption or in greater-than-average amounts.
When estrogen levels rise, the production of testosterone decreases. Alcohol also decreases zinc levels which is vital to testosterone productions.
In men, ethanol alcohol in large amounts decreases testosterone function, sperm count, and fertility. It can even cause damage to the testes.
The definition of moderate drinking is more than 2 to 3 beers a day. Binge drinking is 5 or more drinks with 2 hours.
Drinking alcohol at these amounts decreases testosterone levels in two ways. The alcohol and sugar in the beverage both result in lower testosterone production.
Studies also found that light to moderate drinking increases another hormone called dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S). This hormone provides a protective effect on the heart.
Non-Medicinal Ways to Increase Testosterone Levels?
You may wish to try some non-medicinal activities to treat your low testosterone.
Exercise and Lift Weights
Increasing your exercise within a normal range may help boost your testosterone. Remember that excessive exercise can decrease your level.
Work on Achieving a Normal Weight
Research has shown that obese men who lost weight by increasing physical activity had increased testosterone levels.
Resistance training, such as weightlifting, rates as the best exercise to increase both short-term and long-term testosterone levels.
Eat Protein, Fat, and Carbs
Constant overeating and dieting interfere with your testosterone level. You need to each enough protein to ensure healthy levels and help lose fat.
Carbohydrates (Carbs) help optimize your testosterone levels while you engage in resistance training. Eating enough healthy fats also helps with testosterone levels and remaining healthy.
Be sure to avoid overeating or conversely eating too few calories. Eat a diet balanced in carbs, fat, and protein.
Decrease stress and cortisol levels
Long-term stress can elevate cortisol levels. High levels of cortisol cause a quick reduction in testosterone.
High cortisol and stress levels often increase foot intake leading to weight gain. The body may also store harmful body fat around your organs. The changes can, again, result in low testosterone levels.
Get Plenty of Rest
Several studies have looked at the number of hours people sleep. They compared the hours slept to their testosterone levels.
The prevailing recommendation suggests 7 to 10 hours of sleep. This increases long-term health and benefits your testosterone levels.
Those who only slept 5 hours per night had a 15% reduction. Those who slept only 4 hours had borderline deficient levels. Another study calculated that for every extra hour of sleep, there is a 15% rise in testosterone level, on average.
Take Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
One study found that zinc and vitamin B supplements improve sperm quality by 74%. Vitamins A, C, and E play a role in testosterone levels. They recommend that more research should look into this area of study.
Does Vitamin D Increase Testosterone?
Get plenty of sun and take Vitamin D every day. Research is showing that Vitamin D may work as a natural testosterone booster. Almost half of the US population has a Vitamin D deficiency.
A 12-month study looked at supplementing the diet with 3,000 IU of Vitamin D3 each day. They found that testosterone levels increased by about 25%. In the older population, Vitamin D and calcium helps to optimize testosterone.
This may help to strengthen bones and decrease fall risk. To get the best testosterone benefit, take the Vitamin D supplement daily. Also, try to get regular exposure to sunlight.
How Is Low Testosterone Treated?
If low testosterone levels and symptoms that are bothering you, talk to your physician. He/she will often recommend medical intervention. If the doctor has been able to identify why your levels are low, the first approach will involve correcting that problem.
You may work on losing or gaining weight as necessary. Your doctor may take you off certain medications if that seems to be the cause. Or, your physician may recommend testosterone replacement therapy.
This comes in several different forms:
- Skin patch which you put on every evening and releases small amounts of the hormone into the skin
- Gels that you spread on the upper back, arms, shoulder, and thighs every day
- Mouth tablets attach to your gum or inner cheek 2 times a day
- Pellets that are put under the skin every 3 to 6 months
- Injections that you receive every 7 to 14 days
Most patients notice an improvement in symptoms within 4 to 6 weeks. Changes, such as increased muscle mass may take 3 to 6 months to manifest.
What Are the Benefits of Testosterone Replacement Therapy?
Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) can reverse the symptoms of low testosterone. It’s not clear if older men, who are otherwise healthy, would receive any benefit from TRT.
Benefits from TRT may include:
- Improved sexual desire
- Improved sexual function
- Increased bone density
- Enhanced mood
- Enhanced energy
- Enhanced quality of life
- Improved muscle mass
- Improved strength
- Improved cognitive function
Some men report that TRT helps them feel younger and more vigorous. Science does not have results to back up these claims.
What Are the Risks of Testosterone Replacement Therapy?
All medical procedures can have both benefits and risks. It is important to balance the risks of TRT replacement with the benefits. TRT may carry some of the following risks:
- Increased sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder that involves repeated stops and starts of breathing
- Cause acne or other types of skin reactions
- Cause gynecomastia or enlarged breasts
- Limit sperm productions
- Cause shrinkage of the testicles
- Increase the risk for deep vein thrombosis, a clot in a large vein, which can break loose and travel to the lungs or brain causing a pulmonary embolism or stroke
Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Your Testosterone Level?
Never hesitate to ask your doctor questions about your condition or possible treatment. Understanding your condition helps you participate in your care. You become educated so you can make the right choices for you.
Here are some questions to get you started:
- Is the testosterone level within the normal range?
- Is more testing needed to determine the cause of the results?
- When should treatment start?
- What treatment options are available?
- What is involved in the treatment?
- How long will treatment last?
- What are the side effects of the treatment?
- Are side effects temporary or permanent?
- What if no treatment is done?
- Should an endocrinologist be consulted?
- Will all the normal functions and body changes return to normal?
When you know what to expect, you often experience less stress. Our imaginations can prove much worse than reality.
Are You Interested in Learning More About Low Testosterone Levels?
Our site has many articles address the different aspects of low testosterone. They range from articles like this one discussing the question, does vitamin d increase testosterone. There are also articles addressing ways to deal with the physical and emotional changes associated with this imbalance.
You will also learn about testing and treatment options available to you. If you are ready to learn more. Contact our site today to get your questions answered.