When we hear the word testosterone we envision strong, highly masculine men. And yet testosterone is necessary in both men and women – though in different levels. Regardless, testosterone is hailed for promoting vigor, strength and libido, so when testosterone begins to decline so do other aspects in a man’s life.
In men, testosterone helps produce sperm, distribute fat in the body, bring about the changes which occur in puberty and maintain muscle mass and strength. You can see how, if there are issues with a man’s testosterone levels, he may experience many changes and not for the better. To get a better understanding of testosterone, let’s examine how different levels of it affect the body and how to boost it naturally if it is low.
Related Reading: Declining Testosterone and Effects on Male Health
Check your testosterone levels
When discussing testosterone we will focus more on men’s health as testosterone plays a larger role in men.
As men age their hormone levels in general begin to change. When they are born they have a moderate amount of testosterone – 75-400 ng/dl (nanograms per deciliter). For the first few years of their lives testosterone levels don’t exceed 13 ng/dl, but once the puberty years hit, usually between 12 and 14, testosterone levels surge up to 1,200 ng/dl. Unfortunately, this surge doesn’t last forever. In fact, testosterone can start declining even before a man has turned 30. Although at first the decline is slow, by the time men hit 30 they can see a decline in testosterone of up to one percent annually.
Normal level of testosterone: Typically, average testosterone levels are 679 ng/dl. Healthy men are considered to have testosterone levels between 400 to 600 ng/dl.
Low level of testosterone: Low levels of testosterone – or low T – are considered when the level drops below 300 ng/dl.
High level of testosterone: High levels of testosterone are considered when readings are greater than 1,200 ng/dl.
How to test for testosterone levels
Now that we know what is considered a normal, low and high level of testosterone, it’s important to know how you obtain your reading.
Testosterone levels are determined with a blood test, which should be completed between seven and 10 in the morning. Like any other blood test your doctor will instruct you on the procedure. You do not need to fast prior to a testosterone test, but a doctor may suggest you avoid any medications.
Depending on the results, a doctor may repeat the test for confirmation. For example, results showing low testosterone will probably be conducted again to validate the blood work.
Related Reading: Declining Testosterone and Effects on Male Health
What causes low testosterone?
If you’re concerned about your testosterone or your blood test results confirm you have low testosterone, it’s important to know what causes such a decline.
First and foremost age, as mentioned, is a factor. By the time you turn 30 you will experience a greater decrease in testosterone. Other causes of low testosterone include medical conditions like diabetes, being overweight, changes to the thyroid, mental illness and alcohol consumption.
Many of the factors and causes of low testosterone are controllable; proper health practices are essential if you want to maintain healthy testosterone levels.
Symptoms of low testosterone
Unless you proceed with blood work, you may not know for sure if your testosterone levels are low. But you can get a fair idea about your declining testosterone levels if you notice the following symptoms:
- Low sex drive
- Weak erection of difficulty having one
- Low semen volume
- Hair loss
- Low or lack of energy
- Increase in body fat – especially around the abdomen
- Bone loss
- Changes in mood
- Loss of muscle mass and strength
These symptoms are linked to many aspects of what makes up a man. Not only will men feel weak, but they may not even feel “manly.” Essentially, when testosterone levels are low, men feel stripped of their manhood.
Effects of low testosterone
In addition to the symptoms listed above, low testosterone can also affect men in other ways.
For starters, low testosterone may lead to erectile dysfunction and a decrease in sperm volume. And the more a man goes without sex, the more his desire for sex will diminish. The effects of low testosterone may get so severe that a person may lose their desire for sex entirely.
Testosterone also plays a large role in mood and behavior. High levels of testosterone may lead to angry outbursts and aggression, whereas low testosterone may result in low energy, low motivation, sadness and sleep issues, which can lead to further health problems.
Testosterone levels, low or high, greatly impact a man’s life, so maintaining healthy, normal levels is essential for good health.
Related Reading: Low testosterone affects men’s parenting skills
How to increase testosterone naturally
We discussed the causes of low testosterone, we know the symptoms and effects of it on the body, and we even have a better understanding about testosterone in men as a whole. Clearly testosterone is important to the male body, so giving it a boost naturally can help you maintain proper health.
Currently there are injections and patches men can wear to help boost testosterone. Both methods of boosting testosterone have been shown to produce harsh side effects, which can hurt the body in other ways. If your testosterone levels are low, you need to find natural and safe means to boost testosterone.
Exercise: Exercise is quintessential for good health and to help boost testosterone naturally. Not only can exercise reduce belly fat – a reason for lowering testosterone levels – but lifting weights has been shown to boost testosterone by 49 percent. Even if you’re in your later years, exercise is still possible. Just find a program best suited for you.
Limit your alcohol consumption: Maybe when you were younger you didn’t notice alcohol’s effects on your testosterone because you had an abundance of testosterone. But now that you’re older, that alcoholic beverage can really zap your already lowered T-levels.
In one study men who consumed alcohol daily over three weeks saw their testosterone levels drop by nearly seven percent. The takeaway here is, watch your drinking as it won’t benefit your testosterone.
Minimize stress: Stress can cause havoc on your health overall, so it’s of no surprise that stress can also cause a drop in your testosterone levels. Stress actually reduces the body’s ability to produce testosterone, so finding healthy ways to combat stress is essential.
Eat fat: Having too much fat is bad for testosterone, but eating healthy fat can actually boost it naturally. As uncovered in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, men who consumed fat also had high levels of testosterone.
If you are going to consume fat, ensure it is of the healthy variety: monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat are best.
Sleep well: Although low testosterone may impede on one’s level of sleep, it’s still important to get proper sleep to boost testosterone. In one study men who only slept five hour nights for seven nights saw a 10 to 15 percent drop in testosterone.
These tips are not just ways to boost testosterone naturally, they are also essential for overall good health. Testosterone is an essential hormone for men and women alike. It is what makes up a man, and when it begins to drop you’ll stop feeling like yourself.
Now that we know what can lead to low testosterone and some effective tips to combat it, you can steer clear of those injections and patches, which can cause more harm than good.
Just because you’re getting older, it doesn’t mean you have to succumb to low testosterone. Practicing testosterone-boosting methods, like the one listed above, can help you feel stronger and more like your old self again.