Sep 29, 2016

20 Things to Understand About Low Testosterone

Testosterone continues to be one of the most misunderstood hormones in the human body. Because it is a hormone used to develop male sexual characteristics, most people just assume that all types of testosterone combine to form massive, manly men. This leads to countless misconceptions about low testosterone, which is medically referred to as hypoandrogenism, but the reality of low testosterone is much more nuanced. Instead of just fixing it with supplementation, your diet and exercise can be altered to make a huge difference.

Here is everything you should know about this commonly diagnosed medical condition.

1. It Can Happen to Anyone

A lot of people assume that low testosterone only occurs among men who are in their 50s or older, but low testosterone is actually an issue among people of all genders and ages. Both genders need adequate levels of testosterone hormones to function normally, but a variety of factors, including illness, tumors, environmental issues, or malfunctioning glands can cause testosterone levels to drop at any time.

This misconception occurs because testosterone production in males peaks around the age of 30 before slowly declining, so low testosterone is somewhat more common among older men. However, anyone can be affected by low testosterone, so you may want to get your levels checked if you notice it happening.

2. There Are Many Different Types of Testosterone Supplements

Testosterone supplements, which are the most common method of treatment for low testosterone, come in a variety of different forms. Not only can testosterone be supplemented via pills, a topical gel, a patch, or an injection, but there are actually chemical differences between different types.

Some forms of testosterone are very fast acting, causing a peak of blood testosterone levels almost immediately. Other types take up to five days to metabolize, but they can remain in the body for a few weeks. Altogether, there are over 30 synthetic testosterone compounds, so you will need to talk to your doctor and find the right option for your unique case of low testosterone.

3. Testosterone Supplements Don’t Always Solve Infertility

A lot of couples struggling with infertility look to low testosterone treatments for a cure. Low testosterone levels can definitely affect fertility by diminishing intercourse and preventing healthy sperm production. However, the strong association between testosterone and manliness makes some men think that they will be able to impregnate countless women just by taking supplements. In reality, some research has found that synthetic testosterone supplements diminish fertility.

Men may have more struggles with fertility while taking supplements, but this stops when they stop usage. Doctors are starting to encourage patients who are primarily interested in increased fertility to find ways to naturally boost the body’s production of testosterone instead of just taking supplements.

fizkes / Shutterstock.com

fizkes / Shutterstock.com

4. Neither Gender Has a Strong Libido Without Testosterone

One of the most common symptoms of testosterone is a diminished libido, but it is not always noticeable. This happens because testosterone helps to ready the body for intercourse, so without it, people may struggle to get aroused or even be interested in sex.

Often, people do not realize they are suffering from a lowered libido until a partner points out that they are no longer interested in intercourse. This is due to the common assumption that it is normal for adults to lose interest in sex, but any sudden decrease in libido is abnormal and may be a sign of diminished testosterone.

5. Testosterone Is Produced in Multiple Places

Testosterone is not just produced in the testicles, so you may be dealing with low testosterone even if your testicles seem to be producing adequate amounts of this hormone. This is such an important hormone that it is actually produced in many organs of the body.

It is true that men produce testosterone in their testes while women produce testosterone in their ovaries. However, it is also produced by the adrenal gland, the placenta in pregnant women, and even a person’s skin. Because the human body relies on so many different organs to get adequate testosterone levels, even a minor issue with one of the areas of testosterone production can affect you noticeably.

6. Exercise Can Be a Helpful Treatment

Though exercise alone is not enough to cure low testosterone levels, there is no denying that it can be helpful. Medical research has long known that exercise causes testosterone levels to increase, but this boost only lasts about an hour. However, regular exercise may be able to cause enough minor boosts to provide some relief from low testosterone symptoms. It can also help to increase testosterone levels over time by reducing body fat and increasing muscle mass. Therefore, regular exercise can be quite useful among men with just a moderately low level of testosterone.

Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock.com

Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock.com

7. Low Testosterone Symptoms Vary by Gender

Because women’s bodies are so sensitive to lower amounts of androgenic hormones, they tend to experience different symptoms of low testosterone. Both genders tend to lose energy, get mood swings, and have a lower libido without testosterone, but other physical characteristics vary.

Women with low testosterone frequently suffer from scalp hair loss, while men with low testosterone are more likely to retain scalp hair while losing body and facial hair. Women with lower testosterone also find it particularly hard to lose weight because they have such little testosterone to begin with.

8. It Might Be Caused by Your Sleep Habits

Most of a person’s natural testosterone production is secreted from the glands into the bloodstream while you sleep. Even a small interruption in sleep can make testosterone levels dip. Almost every man has noticed that he has less libido and energy when he is tired, and this is actually often caused by slightly lower than normal testosterone levels.

If a person has a chronic sleep disorder, their sleep disruptions might actually be bad enough to cause significantly low testosterone amounts. Sleep apnea, a disorder that causes breathing to randomly and briefly stop while a person sleeps, is particularly linked to low testosterone levels. Because sleep impacts testosterone so much, some patients find that their testosterone levels balance out again once they fix their sleep disorder.

9. More and More People Are Being Treated for It

The growing awareness of low T has lead to more and more interest in testosterone treatments. Roughly half of all men in their 80s have at least somewhat diminished testosterone levels, but medical advancements allow seniors to live a more active life. The growing understanding of hormones and the increasing desire to live an active and healthy life have combined to cause skyrocketing testosterone supplement prescriptions.

Only 1.3 million people in the United States were prescribed testosterone in 2010, but within just three years, the number of patients being treated for low testosterone levels had increased by a million. Physicians predict that the numbers will begin to increase.

chaoss / Shutterstock.com

chaoss / Shutterstock.com

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