Testosterone Explained: Functions, Symptoms & TreatmentsTatiana Bakunina on July 2nd, 2019
You’re aggressive, dominating and extremely sex driven? Congratulations. Even without checking your level, I know you’re high in free testosterone. These behaviours are the most prominent effects of testosterone on your brain. But what about the other, sometimes hidden signs and symptoms that allow doctors to evaluate your level?
Functions of testosterone
Testosterone is responsible for a number of critical functions in the male body. We all know some of them, like facial and body hair growth, sperm production and erectile function, growth of muscle mass and strength. But you may not be aware that testosterone is responsible for red blood cell production in bone marrow, it controls bone density, and you need a high level of testosterone for good fertility and excellent results in your sports training. Sometimes a sign like varicose veins will give the doctor information about insufficient levels of testosterone production, and in males, varicose veins may in some cases be reversed with local applications of the liposomal gel of transdermal testosterone.
Symptoms of low testosterone
Testosterone directly impacts the health of your heart. Studies have shown that testosterone deficiency in patients with coronary artery disease is associated with heart failure and has a significant negative impact on survival.
The link between low-level testosterone and metabolic syndromes is overwhelming, so don’t believe your overweight friend with gynecomastia (man boobs) when he boasts of his conquests in bed. Research shows that when men have excessive fat deposits, testosterone is converted into estradiol (female hormone) and often the first sign of the disbalance is male breasts enlargement.
They say bald men are more sexual due to a high level of testosterone being responsible for hair loss. It’s only partially true. I suggest not to trust the words of ‘they’, but to rely on science. Androgenic alopecia (male-pattern baldness in men) begins and gradually increases with age, when there is a lack of male hormones. Premature balding is associated with increased conversion of high testosterone levels into its metabolite dihydrotestosterone (DHT). In other words, much of the testosterone is ‘wasted’, and in order to correct this conversion pattern a visit to the doctor is needed. So, sorry to say, but bald men are no more masculine than those with a full head of hair, if for you masculinity is defined in terms of response to androgenic stimulation.
Optimal male testosterone levels
Testosterone levels drop about 1% each year beginning in a man’s late 30s, and could fall by as much as 50% by age 70. A urine test for testosterone and its metabolites can determine if you have low testosterone.
In order to treat androgen deficiency and reach optimal total testosterone levels of 6500 to 8000 pg/ml, we have to check all hormones and proteins that are involved: follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), prolactin, sex-hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), surprisingly a number of female hormones (estradiol, estrone, progesterone), and the critical metabolite of testosterone – androstanediol glucuronide. Only analyzing the full picture of your sex hormones activity will give the possibility to restore your abilities back to their optimal levels.
Treatment for low testosterone
Thanks to modern medicine and biochemistry achievements, testosterone deficiency can be easily treated by a number of products. You can choose among:
- Skin patch: A patch is applied once every 24 hours, in the evening, and releases small amounts of testosterone into the skin.
- Gels: Topical gels are spread daily onto the skin over both upper arms, shoulders, or thighs.
- Nasal spray: Use it at about the same time each day and space your doses about 6 – 8 hours apart.
- Buccal tablet: Tablets are attached to your gum or inner cheek twice a day. Testosterone is then absorbed into the bloodstream.
- Oral pills: Tablets must be taken with meals twice or thrice daily.
- Pellets: These are implanted under the skin, usually around the hips or buttocks, and slowly release testosterone. They are replaced every three to six months.
- Injections: Various formulations are injected every 7 to 14 days. Testosterone levels can rise to high levels for a few days after the injection and then slowly come down, which can cause a roller-coaster effect, where mood and energy levels spike before trailing off.
It was a long-standing belief that higher levels of testosterone and testosterone replacement therapy would increase the risk of prostate cancer, but recent studies (Harvard Medical School, Martiniclinic, Universitätsklinikum Ulm) do not support this view and the risk of the acceleration of prostate cancer growth with testosterone is only true for previously castrated man (Maimonides Medical Center).
How to improve your testosterone naturally?
You have to eat more proteins (meat, fish, eggs…) and saturated fats (like egg yolk), but be careful with overeating and check you oxidized LDL and triglycerides levels first in order to avoid cardiovascular problems.
Go easy on sugar! The Endocrine Society reports that glucose (sugar) decreases testosterone levels in the blood by as much as 25%, as it has demonstrated in a study with patients having prediabetes syndrome/diabetes or a normal tolerance for glucose. Eating a high glycemic carb diet will lower total testosterone. Consumption of 75g of glucose reduced the testosterone level 25% for more than 2 hours. These reports were confirmed independently by other studies, with possible variation of testosterone drops between 15 and 40%.
Two especially important nutrients for your diet are vitamin D and zinc, Both are precursors for testosterone synthesis. Zinc can be added by consuming more whole grains and shellfish, or through supplements. Based on the NIH recommendations, adult males should aim to get 11mg of zinc per day.
Get enough potassium from bananas, beets, and spinach, which aids in testosterone synthesis. Try to decrease coffee intake or replace it with decaf options. Additionally, I would cut out tobacco and alcohol.
You might try changing your underwear. That is to say, if you normally wear briefs or a ‘tighty whiteys’ style, switch to looser fitting boxer shorts instead. Ideally, your testicles should hang 2cm below the body and be 2°C cooler than the core body temperature for optimal testosterone production.
Don’t forget that the total testosterone level is highest in men who sleep 7–8 hours a night, and lowest in those who get less than 5 hours.
Testosterone is far more than erectile function and sex drive. Testosterone is a pillar for your health and longevity.