Every one of us knows that testosterone is the quintessential male hormone. In the physical sense, it is what makes a man a man. The primary male hormone plays a major role in the development of male reproductive issues as well in the such secondary sexual characteristics as body mass, muscle strength, and body hair. In puberty, it builds our muscles, deepens our voices, grows our beards, and increases the size of our penis and testes. Thank you very much! In adulthood, it helps keep the muscle and bones it has grown strong and healthy, and maintains our interest in sex. It is quite easy to see why we could be so sensitive to the decrease of this substance in our body.
By some estimates, one-quarter to one-third of adult men may suffer from a condition commonly known as low-T. A normal testosterone reading in a healthy male would be about 300 nanograms per deciliter (300 mg/dL). Problems may arise if this falls to readings below 200 mg/dL. Around the age of thirty most men will experience a natural decline in testosterone levels. A blood test is the only way to determine if you are suffering from low-T. We live in a time when more men have become more open about their sexual issues. Erectile dysfunction is openly discussed and easily treated, and some men are all too eager to lay the blame for this condition on the fact that they are aging, and their levels of male hormones are decreasing. Before you decide if low-T is truly the culprit, your doctor must conduct a thorough physical to determine if other issues are at play. Issues such as diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease which may threaten your health far beyond merely sexually considerations.
So, besides the obvious symptoms of erectile dysfunction or a general lack of interest in sex, what are some of the other symptoms of low testosterone? Well, one can simply be an overall feeling of not feeling well, of not feeling yourself. You could experience a feeling of weakness, a generalized fatigue, or even depression. Given the wide variety of symptoms, it’s easy to see why a low-T condition is often blamed on other problems. But what can cause our testosterone to drop? Any number of diseases or conditions may be to blame, such as an injury to the testes or testicular cancer (or its treatment), hormonal disorders, HIV/AIDS, infection, chronic liver or kidney disease, or even obesity. You can see why a thorough screening by your physician is necessary now, can’t you? Even some medications can contribute to the problem.
Once you have been diagnosed with a low testosterone condition, what can you do about it? To many, the obvious choice would seem to be testosterone replacement therapy, or TRT. This type of treatment is administered by a physician, and may take many forms. You could use patches, which can irritate the skin, or creams, which must be carefully protected from touch by others. It could also entail a patch on your gum, which could be irritating, implants under the skin of your buttocks, or periodic injections. Such treatment comes with a variety of potential side effects, including acne or oily skin, risk of blood clots, heart attack, or stroke, and strangely counter productive, shrinkage of the penis and a lowered sperm count. It could even cause you to have larger breasts!
So, is there something more natural you could try to raise your testosterone levels? The answer is, “Yes!” Many physicians advise that you examine your lifestyle and make changes appropriately. Get enough sleep (seven to eight hours a night is recommended). Maintain a healthy weight. This means losing weight, if necessary, but also gaining weight, too, if needed. Stay active. When you are active, the brain sends out messages that stimulate the production of necessary hormones. Try to walk at least ten to twenty minutes per day, and consider a regimen of resistance exercises using weights or elastic bands. This type of exercise builds up your testosterone levels, while endurance exercise may deplete them. Stay calm. Control your stress. Stress produces the stress hormone cortisol, which has an adverse effect to testosterone. Try to spend two hours a day stress-free. Watch a movie, or listen to some tunes. And cut out the excess overtime at work. With your doctor’s advice, review your medications. Certain drugs can cause a decrease in testosterone. These drugs include opiates such as fentanyl and oxycontin, corticosteroids like prednisone, and anabolic steroids. A moderate change in the way you live may be all that is needed to give you the boost you need.
But, if you feel the need for an additional boost, you may want to try a supplement. DHEA, dehydroepiandrosterone, may be useful. This is a hormone primarily produced in the adrenal cortex, but also secreted by the brain and testes. DHEA is a precursor to the androgen hormones, such as testosterone, which facilitate the development and preservation of male characteristics. As such, it can help increase levels of serum testosterone. But you should be aware that there can be certain complications. While DHEA has been shown to prevent prostate cancer, if this slow developing cancer has already been diagnosed, DHEA can cause an increased risk of tumors.
Another over the counter supplement which may be of use is L-arginine. This substance is an essential amino acid and one of the building blocks of proteins in our bodies. And protein is the building blocks of muscle. L-arginine has been used as an effective sexual aid for both men and women, but its benefits go far beyond this. It is a precursor of nitric oxide in the body, a chemical which dilates blood vessels, thus allowing for increased blood flow. You can imagine what this increased flow can do in a sexual situation, but think beyond these implications. If the flow to and from the testes, where testosterone is produced, is increased, your body’s testosterone is more easily transported to where it is needed to build and strengthen muscle and bone. And the increased flow of blood through the testes may, in fact, increase the production of testosterone. As you can see, we’ve spoken quite a bit here about blood flow, and that’s important. L-arginine has been used for years as a sexual stimulant, but it goes far beyond that. Increased blood flow leads to a healthier heart, brain, and virtually any other organ. It helps us to perform more proficiently in the gym, the office, and the home.
If you’re feeling not quite the man you used to be, there is something you can do about it. Why not start today?
I’m Nick Wilkinson. I writer and radio personality who lives in Phoenix, Arizona.
With over 14 years of experience in the Behavioral Health Field, I’ve been working in close contact with kids from all walks of life.
Specializing in teenagers and young adults, I’ve been a career long supporter of “verbal de-escalation” and non-violent crisis intervention. I believe that what you say, and how you say it, are the keys to successful communication. I currently write about men’s health topics, parenting and child abuse topics, and other social issues. You can visit my blog at www.ActingNotReacting.com