Hormones are powerful molecules producing both obvious and subtle effects. Their production in the human body relies on complex interactions that can be influenced at several points along the relevant biochemical pathways. Specific medical conditions will sometimes disrupt the production and balance of human hormones, but one’s general health plays an important role. Because the hormone testosterone powerfully influences a man’s physical and mental well-being, being alert to symptoms of low levels provides opportunity to respond in a timely way. Preservation of health may be easier than restoration of health, but both are possible.
Physical Manifestations of Low Testosterone (Symptoms)
Body Composition: Testosterone is a natural anabolic steroid, instrumental in building muscle. It also influences the pattern of fat deposition. Consequently, a softening of the physique that is unresponsive to increased efforts at the gym may indicate reduced levels of testosterone.
Sexual function: Libido, or sex drive, is connected to testosterone levels in both men and women. Interestingly, it is only indirectly associated with achieving and maintaining an erection. It is directly associated with semen production, however. Therefore, the impact of low levels may be apparent as diminished sex drive, infrequent and poor quality erections and reduced semen volume.
Physical fatigue and lack of energy: This is often reported by men who are ultimately found to have clinically low levels of testosterone.
Decrease in bone mass: Loss of bone density is of special concern for long term health.
Hair loss: Male pattern balding is driven by genetics, and is not the same as that caused by low levels of testosterone. Loss of body hair and thinning of head hair and beard are more typical of a hormone imbalance.
Mental Health Indicators of Low Testosterone
Mood changes and inability to focus: The scientific literature has not yet reported a causal link between mental functions and low testosterone levels. The population of men reporting that they are depressed and distracted include many who ultimately test out at low levels of testosterone.
Testing for Low Testosterone Levels
Laboratory analysis of a blood sample is one piece of the testosterone puzzle. Results are reported in nanograms per deciliter of blood (ng/dl). It is generally considered “healthy” to be producing at least 300 ng/dl of total testosterone. Depending on the laboratory, the range of “normal” values approaches 800 ng/dl. It is also possible to measure “free” testosterone, which is not bound to sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) in the blood.
Treating Low Testosterone Levels
Many lifestyle choices influence the ability of the body to produce a healthy balance of hormones. In general, choices that reduce stresses of all types will promote well-being and energetic balance. Metabolic stress arises when dietary intake compromises the function of the liver. Hormonal stresses result from unhealthy reactions to frustrations and conflicts. Inadequate sleep prevents the body from recovering from the daily grind.
Awareness of poor habits of self-care is a good first step, so seek some help that will give you objective evaluation of your personal challenges. As you implement changes, track your progress. Don’t lose track of where you started, progress gained and goals that are meaningful to you. Your body will often naturally heal when given the opportunity.
If lifestyle changes do not correct the symptoms that concern you, medical options are available. Topically applied medicines or injections are typical strategies. Each comes with risks associated with a particular benefit. Most doctors will ask you to make healthy lifestyle changes in addition to other interventions, so it will help both you and your physician to make those changes first.
May We Help You?
STARK provides a strategically selected team of experts and a dedicated environment to help you make the most progress in the most efficient way. We believe there are many ways to optimize your energy for living. We constantly seek to understand and then implement what works in general and fine-tune it to work for you. Working with you to thoroughly understand your unique situation is step #1 which is a discovery phase. We refer to it as a “health audit” and offer you several options. It is particularly important that stressors in your life be identified and addressed. From there, we create a unique plan that includes targeted nutrition and exercise strategies to build your well-being. Along the way, new strategies will be adopted as needed to move you toward your goals. We’re with you, and for you, all the way.