There are certain myths bandied about when it comes to the issue of low testosterone. Let’s check out the scientific evidence and get some pointers on how to manage the physical and emotional side of what really happens when your hormones levels are changing.
Sorting Fact from Fiction on Testosterone
Is low testosterone a normal part of ageing?
Low testosterone can happen at any age and for a variety of reasons. It’s a fact that with the passing years your testes produce less testosterone but that doesn’t constitute the condition known as hypogonadism (medical term for low testosterone). Gradually declining testosterone levels due to advancing years is not normally considered by medics to be a reason for prescribing testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). However, there are certain instances where it may be appropriate, and your doctor will advise.
Is reduced libido the only sign of low testosterone?
Not at all. There are several other indications that testosterone levels may be lower than usual. In addition to a loss of sex drive, you may experience mood swings, feel tired all the time, and lose your enthusiasm for doing the things you normally enjoy.
Is baldness related to testosterone level?
Men lose their hair due to high testosterone levels. True or false? It’s a medical myth that high levels of testosterone cause baldness. Testosterone is linked to male balding but it’s not so much to do with how much testosterone is present, more about how hair follicles respond to the hormone. Within the body, testosterone changes to a chemical that makes hair follicles shrink, and as they shrink the hair gets thinner until finally no hair grows at all. This doesn’t happen all over the body so bald men may still have hairy chests, legs, and beards.
Can low testosterone affect the immune system?
In January 2014 Stanford School of Medicine published a study on testosterone and immunity. The conclusion of the study was that men with higher levels of testosterone had a reduced immune response to certain vaccines such as the flu vaccine. Researchers found that men whose testosterone levels were high, had a weaker response because testosterone interacts with a certain group of genes called Module 52 genes, and it was this interaction that was found to hinder immune response. The findings of this study were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Do low testosterone levels impact upon cardiovascular health?
An article entitled ‘Testosterone and the Heart’, published in the DeBakey Cardiovascular Journal, 2017, states that after the age of 40, testosterone levels begin to gradually decrease, and this has been associated with an increase in coronary artery disease, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. The article states: ‘many studies have indicated that low serum testosterone concentrations are associated with increased cardiovascular risk and mortality and that testosterone replacement therapy may have clinically relevant cardiovascular benefits.’
Does low testosterone cause the voice to change?
Testosterone has a major effect on the strength of muscles and the muscles of the larynx are no exception. When testosterone levels begin to decline, the voice changes due to the muscles of the larynx decreasing in size. The fibres of the vocal cords are made up of collagen, and as collagen decreases, the vocal cords begin to stiffen. Men’s voices tend to become higher in pitch when this happens. An interesting observation from a German study on different pitches of voice in male singers was determined by varying concentrations of circulating sex hormones and the relevant androgen sensitivity.
Is it true that consuming soy products affects testosterone levels?
Soy is often incorporated into diets for health benefits, particularly by those who follow vegan and vegetarian diets. Derived from soybeans, soy provides protein and is available in such foods as edamame beans, tofu, tempeh, miso, soy flour and soy milk. Concerns that soy could have a feminising effect or lower a man’s testosterone levels, resulting in erectile dysfunction and sperm count, have been rumoured. The fears are possibly because soy has active ingredients called isoflavones – they are phytoestrogens (plant-based compounds), chemically similar to oestrogens. The findings from various wide-ranging studies, one of them as recent as 2021, found no connection between consuming soy and low testosterone, so this fear is unfounded.
Is a low sperm count associated with low testosterone levels?
Your brain signals the production of hormones known as gonadotropic-releasing hormones and these in turn signal the testes to make more testosterone which is vital for a healthy sperm count.
For men taking TRT, testosterone is artificially added to their blood either by means of injections, patches, or gels. This has the effect of inhibiting the brain from sending signals to the testes to produce more testosterone. Because the testes are not prompted to produce testosterone, sperm production is also reduced. This can pose a problem for those concerned about fertility issues with a view to fathering a child. As an alternative to using TRT, lifestyle changes may be recommended such as stepping up regular exercise and a healthy diet. For anyone struggling with excess weight it is particularly advised to lose belly (visceral) fat as this converts testosterone to oestrogen. A tip to help with burning belly fat is to Include inulin in your diet. Read more about inulin on our blog.
Do thyroid problems cause low testosterone?
There are circumstances where hypothyroidism, if caused by your pituitary gland, can result in low testosterone and erectile dysfunction. Hypothyroidism is where the thyroid gland doesn’t product enough thyroid hormone.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism are:
- Feelings of fatigue
- Numbness and tingling in hands
- Weight gain
- Body aches and muscle weakness
- High cholesterol
- Struggling with cold temperatures
- Dry skin and hair
- Decreased sexual feelings
- Changed facial structure such as drooping eyelids, puffiness in eyes and face
- Voice becomes lower and hoarser
- Brain fog
Are sleep patterns affected by low testosterone?
There’s no direct link between sleep disruption and testosterone production. However, there may be an indirect connection because prolonged insomnia causes an excess of cortisol, the stress hormone. Continued high levels of cortisol in the bloodstream can create a hormone problem resulting in reduced testosterone. This can then become a vicious cycle as low testosterone leads to adrenal fatigue which worsens insomnia.
Signs and Symptoms of Low Testosterone
Tell-tale signs that all may not be well with your testosterone levels, can include:
- Unusual fatigue
- Low libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Excessive sweating (including night sweats)
- Poor concentration or memory
- Needing to shave less frequently
Indications that testosterone levels are waning are tricky to establish as most of them could be attributed to other causes. If several symptoms are combining to point to the possibility of low testosterone, then your GP can organise blood tests to check levels
Causes of Low Testosterone
Testosterone is produced within the testes and the condition called hypogonadism (medical term for low testosterone) may occur when the testes are not working properly. Potential reasons for low testosterone are:
- Chronic disease such as liver or kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity
- Injury or disease of the hypothalamus, the area of the brain where hormones are produced
- An underactive pituitary gland
- Injury or disease of the testicles
- Non-cancerous tumour in the pituitary cells
- Medications such as opiate painkillers
- Radiation or chemotherapy
How Do You Check for Low Testosterone?
Your GP may recommend certain tests:
- Total testosterone level test
- Carried out at two different times, both before mid-day when testosterone levels are higher than they are later in the day.
- A Luteinizing hormone test
- To find the cause of a low testosterone level. This hormone controls how your testosterone is made. If levels prove abnormal it indicates a pituitary gland issue.
- Blood prolactin level test
- Taken to check if your prolactin is high. This test may need to be repeated to verify its total accuracy. High prolactin also may be a sign of pituitary problems or tumours.
- Blood haemoglobin test
- Prior to this test your doctor will look for other causes for low haemoglobin such as sleep apnoea or tobacco smoking.
To order a home testosterone test kit you can do so online by completing a short questionnaire about your health. You can then place your order and your kit will be delivered quickly and discreetly to your chosen address.
Treatment for Low Testosterone
Following a blood test, if it is confirmed that your own body is not producing sufficient testosterone, you may be referred to an endocrinologist who will establish if it is safe for you to receive TRT. This is usually given by an injection of a drug called testosterone undecanoate (brand name Nebido) every twelve weeks, but it may also be administered using other forms of testosterone at different intervals. TRT can also be administered by means of patches and gels.
Risks and Side Effects of Testosterone Replacement Therapy
According to the NHS guidelines for prospective TRT patients, there is a possibility of increased haemoglobin indicating blood thickening and this can create a heightened risk of stroke, heart attack and blood clots. Blood tests are carried out before treatment, also during treatment to monitor haemoglobin levels.
Other risks of treatment include enlarged prostate, weight gain, hot flushes, acne, depression, restlessness, irritability, aggression, tiredness, general weakness, excessive sweating. In addition, and as already mentioned, using TRT can cause your natural production of testosterone to be reduced, leading to less sperm production with resultant fertility problems.
More information is available at NHS Testosterone Replacement Therapy – information for patients pdf
Natural Supplements to Ease Effects of Low Testosterone
You may wish to consider taking the natural route to supporting the management of low testosterone symptoms. We offer a range of high quality, expertly devised and sourced herbal supplements to help bring relief to the stress and discomfort caused by low testosterone related issues.
Ashwagandha has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for over 3,000 years. It is an adaptogen, meaning it can help your body manage stress and anxiety due to its effect on the stress hormone cortisol. Ashwagandha has been the subject of numerous positive outcomes both in clinical trials and studies, concluding excellent benefits to men with infertility issues. One of these studies showed ashwagandha to also increase exercise performance, strength, and fat loss while at the same time boosting testosterone levels.
Scientific findings are that ashwagandha can help increase testosterone levels in stressed individuals, possibly by reducing the stress hormone cortisol. Research shows that ashwagandha may help increase testosterone levels generally as well as improving sexual function and body composition. Ashwaganda Root Extract is available in 500mg capsules, giving a minimum of 5% withanolides, also providing flavonoids, antioxidants and amino acids.
Sometimes called the American dwarf palm, this supplement is an extract from the berries of the serenoa repens plant, native to Florida and South-east United States. Its properties are known for their power to lessen the symptoms of enlarged prostate caused by low testosterone levels. Saw palmetto contains antioxidants called epicatechin and methyl gallate. These compounds protect cells from damage and help lessen inflammation to the prostate. It is also helpful in reducing bladder infections and in fighting hair loss. Not to be taken at the same time as hormone replacement medication. Saw Palmetto is available in 350mg capsules. Our high-quality extract provides 45% fatty acids to improve blood flow, reduce inflammation and help to stabilise hormone balance.
Botanical name eurycoma longifolia, Tongkat ali has a long history of use as a libido enhancer. Tongkat ali is a medicinal herb native to South-east Asia where it is heralded as a powerful aid to physical and mental energy levels. The roots, often known as Malaysian ginseng, are used as an adaptogen and an anti-ageing remedy for reduced energy, mood, and libido. In modern-day supplements, tongkat ali is known and widely used to improve libido and energy, restore hormonal balance, enhance fitness, and support weight loss.
The results of a clinical trial to evaluate the effects of tongkat ali extract on stress hormone balance (cortisol/testosterone) as well as psychological mood, has positive findings in terms of boosting testosterone. The trial studied men with an average age of 61 years who all had low testosterone levels. The dose was taking one month of 200mg/day of tongkat ali extract after which the results showed ‘a significant improvement in serum testosterone levels and quality-of-life parameters, suggesting a role for tongkat ali as an adaptogen against age-related stress.’ Tongkat Ali is available in 600mg capsules.
We also offer T-Boost complex capsules that contain a blend of 8 natural ingredients, including Ashwagandha and Tongkt Ali, all designed to help your body increase tesosterone levels.
If you would like to discuss any aspects of using natural supplements, or would find advice helpful, please feel free to contact us on 01297 553932