There’s a reason why men in their teens and 20s are completely “girl crazy”, have endless amounts of energy and barely need to work out to stay fit. Their testosterone is at peak production, and their body is letting them know. Although some men never lose that “girl crazy” stage, testosterone levels begin to slowly decrease after age 30. While testosterone levels will never reach zero, like estrogen does when women hit menopause, levels will decrease about one to two percent each year.
Many men can feel embarrassed when they’re diagnosed with low testosterone, but the fact is low testosterone affects 4 to 5 million men in the United States. It’s far more common than many of us may believe.
Low testosterone in men is easily diagnosed with a simple blood test, but its cause is not always as easily pinpointed. There are many different factors that can cause testosterone levels to begin to decrease, like:
In some cases, restoring testosterone levels to a “normal” range can be as simple as treating the condition. Let’s break down each factor.
According to the CDC, three out of every four men in the United States are considered to be overweight or obese based on their BMI. BMI, or Body Mass Index, measures the amount of fat in your body by the following calculation: weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared.
While weight does affect testosterone levels, the classification your weight falls under makes a difference. It’s a common misconception that being obese and being overweight are one and the same. Overweight is simply that; you’re over the suggested weight for your height. However, obesity is having too much fat in proportion to the rest of your body. Being overweight doesn’t necessarily mean that you have an excess of fat. It’s common to be labeled as overweight if you have a large amount of muscle or water weight. Men who are considered overweight will likely not have low testosterone due to their weight. However, men who are considered obese likely will. Common conditions that correlate with being obese are low testosterone, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and many more.
Common causes of obesity in men include:
The most effective way to increase your testosterone levels if you’re obese is to implement a balance of healthy foods and regular exercise. With positive changes in places, testosterone levels will likely increase naturally over time.
The male body will regulate and maintain normal levels of testosterone until the age of 30. When men enter their 30s, their testosterone levels will naturally begin to drop one to two percent every year. This drop in testosterone is common among all men; however, a large drop in testosterone can be a warning sign.
Aging on its own affects the body. Everyone becomes a little less energetic, finds they need a caffeine boost more often, or can’t keep up with some of their favorite activities like they used to. Monitoring your health changes can be key in catching and treating low testosterone. Slow, steady changes in mood or behavior can be a normal side effect of aging. But, a sudden, unexplained change can be your body’s warning sign of decreasing testosterone levels. The best way to determine if your symptoms are a result of low T is to go to your doctor or local clinic for a five-minute blood test.
Prescription and over-the-counter medications are one of the most common causes of low testosterone. Medications prescribed by doctors and those taken without medical advice can interfere with the production of testosterone, leading to short-term and long-term effects—like low testosterone in men.
Thanks to medical advancements, there are now medications that can help with low cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart conditions, pain management, anxiety, and depression. Unfortunately, many of the side effects of these medications can lower testosterone in men. For example, men who take long-acting opioids are almost five times as likely to be diagnosed with low testosterone than those that take short-acting opioids. Learning the side effects of any prescription medications and discussing any long-term effects with a doctor can be effective ways to avoid lowering testosterone due to medications.
Medications that most often lead to low testosterone in men are:
Type 2 diabetes is a multifactorial disease—meaning there isn’t one specific cause for the development of the condition. Some factors that increase your likelihood of having type 2 diabetes are obesity, poor diet, little to no exercise, bad sleeping habits, and being over the age of 45. Similar to the other factors listed above, type 2 diabetes can contribute to low testosterone levels due to its effect on the body.
The CDC reports that 30.3 million people in America have diabetes, with the majority having type 2 diabetes. When patients first develop type 2 diabetes, it often goes unnoticed and undiagnosed for a long period of time. This is a result of your pancreas, the organ that produces insulin, working overtime to try and regulate your blood sugar. Over time, your pancreas’ ability to produce enough insulin will wane, and your body will need medical assistance to regulate blood sugar.
The common signs of type 2 diabetes are fatigue, increased hunger, blurry vision, sudden or unexpected weight loss, frequent urination, extreme thirst, dark velvety patches of skin known as acanthosis nigricans, and wounds that don’t heal. The most effective ways to increase your testosterone levels if you’re diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are to monitor and supplement your insulin levels, and to implement a balance of healthy foods and regular exercise. Before you make any extreme changes to your diet or exercise, it’s best to consult your primary doctor or dietitian.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is one of the most common conditions in the United States and affects one in every three adults in America. High blood pressure is characterized by a systolic pressure over 130 and a diastolic pressure over 80.
High blood pressure has many risks factors that can cause or contribute to its onset. Some factors that increase your likelihood of having high blood pressure are:
Low testosterone is often caused by high blood pressure due to the medication used to regulate high blood pressure and its correlation with poor diet and exercise.
High blood pressure, like low testosterone, can go undiagnosed and untreated for a long period of time after its development. Even at dangerously high levels, high blood pressure shows no signs or symptoms. Many men and women go undiagnosed until a routine doctor’s appointment.
Medication, healthy eating, and regular exercise are the best methods to deal with high blood pressure. Similar to the above conditions, high blood pressure can cause low testosterone due to its correlation with unhealthy eating habits and lack of regular exercise. While that’s not the case for every patient, implementing healthy foods and exercise can lead to a healthier blood pressure and higher levels of testosterone.
Low testosterone in men affects millions of Americans each year. With symptoms often mistaken for the effects of aging, many men go undiagnosed. Conditions like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure—along with weight, age, and medications—are common causes for a drop in testosterone levels. If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of low testosterone, a simple five-minute blood test can indicate if your testosterone levels are below the “normal” level.
Volonte helps people regain their health and well-being through low T testing, testosterone replacement therapy, and weight-loss programs.
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