Testosterone is probably the most important of the male hormones. It plays A LOT of roles in your life—it affects everything from your sex drive to your behavior to your weight and body fat content to your strength to your energy levels to the health of your skin and hair. It’s one of those hormones your body needs in order to function properly.
I am turning 46 this year and as a result my interest in my hormonal profile is very high. I recently finally bit the bullet and had a full panel run via blood work and will also be completing a full spectrum urinalysis to elicit more detail from the results.
Getting this done isn’t cheap but to me it was worth it. For the purpose of this article I will share my preliminary testosterone results. The tests came back at 753 ng/dl or 25.4 nmol/l or 7.32 ng/ml whichever measure makes sense to you. Basically this is considered high normal.
Could I supplement this through a physician to get it up to the max range into the 1100 ng/dl? Probably…do I want to? Nah…I don’t have any of they signs or symptoms of low testosterone and I have no desire to alter my internal chemistry given the test results.
Now if the detailed analysis reveals that very little of the testosterone in my body is “free” testosterone which is to say that it is unbound and usable, I may reconsider… more to follow on that.
My point here is that you must get tested! Poor hormonal balance can literally ruin your life, so do yourself a favour, bite the bullet and getter’ done.
When you’re young, your natural testosterone production is usually very high. After all, your body needs testosterone to begin puberty and usher you into manhood. But as you grow older, the parts of your body responsible for the production of testosterone tend to slow down. You produce less of this vital hormone, and the decrease gets more noticeable the older you get. Eventually, testosterone production will drop so much that your serum levels fall below 300- 1000 ng/dL, what the FDA considers “normal” testosterone. When this happens, you officially have what is known as “low T” or low testosterone.
Low Testosterone Indicators
One problem with Low T is that it’s often hard to spot right away. The symptoms of Low T are often mistaken for the signs of aging. After all, the symptoms (listed below) are just a sign your body is slowing down. But the low testosterone can be more of a problem than you’d think! In addition to a reduction in your sex drive, there are other downsides of too-low testosterone levels: increased body fat, reduced energy, fatigue, and the list goes on.
It’s important that you know how to recognize the symptoms of low testosterone and tell them apart from the signs of aging. Below is a list of the most common signs that your natural testosterone production isn’t quite up to par.
Note: If you notice two or more of these symptoms together, it’s best to visit your endocrinologist for tests to find out for sure if it’s Low T or some other problem.
One of the most common signs of Low T is problems with your sex drive. Testosterone is the hormone that keeps you “in the mood”, and it plays a role in keeping you desiring sex. It’s believed that testosterone is the key component in the male sex drive, so it makes sense that a LACK of testosterone could lead to a lack of desire.
Your desires aren’t the only thing that will change as a result of low T. You may find that your sexual abilities and inclinations are also affected. A decrease in testosterone can lead to an increase in estrogen, the hormone that powers the female sex drive but which can reduce male sex drive. Low T can reduce your desire for sex and intimacy.
The good news is that not ALL men with Low T are affected by a reduced desire for sex. Some men are able to maintain healthy sex drives and sexual activity despite their low testosterone levels. However, if you’re experiencing problem with your desires for sex, it may be a sign something’s going wrong with your testosterone levels.
Men with Low T often find themselves having trouble in the bedroom. If it’s not one thing (sex drive/libido), it’s going to be another—in this case, difficulties with the “equipment”.
Though doctors aren’t quite certain why testosterone is so important for full erections, it’s understood that it IS important. There is a complex relationship between testosterone and erections. Suffice it to say, low T can reduce the function of whatever inner workings send blood to your penis and causes an erection.
Low T is often characterized by erectile problems. You may have a hard time getting an erection, or you lose your erection prematurely. Men with Low T often have trouble orgasming and ejaculating. It takes them much longer to reach orgasm, and their ejaculations aren’t quite “up to par”. Erectile dysfunction is, sadly, one of the more common signs you need help with natural testosterone production.
Noooooo! Why does it always have to be the hair?
A tad dramatic, but sadly true. Male pattern baldness is the result of three things: age, genetics, and hormones. Age causes your hair follicles to weaken and the hairs to fall out. Genetics cause you to lose your hair at an early age. But a lack of testosterone can also be the reason you’re balding.
There are many reasons your body’s not producing enough testosterone, but one of the main causes is that it’s turning the little testosterone it is producing into dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. There are enzymes in your body that turn testosterone into DHT, a hormone that is five times more potent than testosterone.
DHT is needed for your body to sprout hair, but it can actually reduce the growth of the hair on your head. It attaches to androgen receptors in your hair follicles and triggers the miniaturization of those receptors. This means that your follicles are able to absorb less of the hormone they need to keep growing, leading to reduced hair growth.
Most hair loss is a combination of genetics and hormones, and they tend to show up with age. However, if you’re noticing hair loss in tandem with other symptoms on this list, it could be an indication that there’s something wrong with your testosterone levels.
Muscle Mass Decline
Do you know why men tend to have larger, more muscular bodies than women? It’s largely thanks to testosterone!
Testosterone is the hormone that causes your body to pack on the muscle. It plays a role in the anabolic growth of muscle cells, and it encourages the synthesis of muscle proteins. Basically, to have big, strong muscles, you need lots of testosterone.
But what happens when your body isn’t getting enough testosterone? That’s when you may start to see a decline in your muscle mass. Without testosterone, your muscles are lacking the hormones they need to produce new muscle cells and repair the old, damaged ones. What’s worse is that it won’t just be muscle mass loss; you may find yourself losing STRENGTH as well as size.
Now, you need to realize that testosterone isn’t the only hormone that plays a role in muscle growth. IGF-1, HGH, and other hormones also contribute to bigger, stronger muscles. However, it’s one of the most important hormones. If you have very low testosterone levels, you’ll definitely see your muscle tone suffer as a result.
Testosterone plays a role in your body’s energy-producing mechanisms. Young men tend to have so much energy due to their high testosterone levels. But as they grow older, the amount of energy produced by their body tends to decrease. This is often the result of too-low testosterone levels.
A large percentage of the men who suffer from Low T often find themselves struggling with fatigue and a lack of energy. You may feel tired all the time, or you may have a hard time getting out of bed even after a full night of sleep. Maybe your gym sessions are leaving you far more exhausted than they used to. Or, you’re having a hard time getting up the motivation to hit the gym in the first place.
Fatigue can be a side effect of A LOT of different disorders, diseases, and illnesses. Heck, even a common cold or sore throat can make you tired. However, if your fatigue is persisting for weeks or months, it’s a sign something more serious is going on than just a few tired days. If fatigue is accompanied by more than one of the other symptoms on this list, it’s a sign you need help with natural testosterone production.
Low Volume of Semen
Seeing as testosterone is vital for healthy sexual organ function, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Low T affects yet ANOTHER aspect of your sex life.
The term “semen volume” describes the amount of fluid produced by your testicles. It has nothing to do with your sperm, but it’s simply the liquid that comes out when you ejaculate.
A man with “normal” testosterone levels will usually produce between 1.5 and 6 ml per ejaculation. The more semen produced by your testicles, the better the orgasm. But Low T can decrease your semen production. The lack of testosterone can reduce the function of the gonads, which decreases the amount of fluid produced and stored in the testicles. This can lead to a decrease in the pleasure of your orgasms. If you’re trying to get pregnant, it can also be accompanied by low sperm count—making conception all the more challenging.
Body Fat Increase
Remember how testosterone is vital for muscle growth? The more muscle you have stored on your body, the lower your body fat percentage tends to be. After all, more muscle means a higher energy consumption, so you burn more calories throughout the day.
But if your muscle mass decreases, the amount of calories you burn every day decreases. This means that more energy is stored instead of burned. Your body turns energy into fatty acids to store on the fat cells. Higher energy storage literally means a higher body fat percentage.
Testosterone also affects the way your body stores fat. Higher testosterone levels are usually accompanied by higher energy levels. The fatigue caused by Low T is the result of less calories being burned for energy—ergo, a greater chance of storing energy.
And that’s not all! Low testosterone production is usually caused by, accompanied by, or followed by higher estrogen production. Estrogen is the hormone that encourages women’s bodies to store more fat (around the breasts, hips, thighs, etc.). Higher estrogen levels in the male body usually leads to an increase in body fat storage around those “female” parts. That’s why men with high estrogen levels often suffer from gynecomastia, or the enlargement of the breasts.
Did you know that testosterone can affect your brain as well as your body?
Testosterone is the hormone that makes men more aggressive and competitive. But it also plays a role in your mood and emotional health.
Low testosterone levels have been linked to mood swings, depression, increased stress, and other emotional problems. In fact, a lot of the mental health issues men face are the result of or affected by their fluctuating hormone levels.
Low T is one of the major causes of depression among men, especially older men. Men suffering from Low T tend to have reduced energy levels, see increases in their body fat, and suffering from a lack of desire for both sex and exercise. This can have a profound effect on a man’s self-esteem and can lead to problems with depression.
Bone Mass Loss
Osteoporosis is a problem more common among women, but men can experience it as well. The loss of bone density is often caused by low testosterone levels. One of the many roles of testosterone is to keep the bones healthy, ensuring that they receive the calcium, phosphorus, and other minerals needed to produce new bone tissue. Without enough testosterone, your bones will weaken and become brittle.
Sadly, the most common way of discovering bone mass loss is to suffer an injury that breaks a bone. If you’ve broken a bone far more easily than you should or an injury is taking too long to heal, it could be a sign your testosterone levels aren’t quite where they should be. Add that to one or more of the other symptoms mentioned above, and it could be the symptom of Low T that finally gets you to realize something is off with your hormones.
Listen guys, your gift to yourself in 2017 should be to optimize your health which starts from a foundation of solid information. Spend the time to get tests done to make sure you are functioning on all cylinders.
Your body composition, productivity, mood and sex life will dramatically improve if you are out of whack and take steps to rebalance your hormones.