Low testosterone is one of the most health-threatening problems confronting men. Testosterone itself is a health phenomenon that exists in the testes glands of men, and it’s responsible for certain growth activities in men’s body.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a steroid hormone produced in the adrenal glands in the testes of men. Women ovaries also form a small quantity of testosterone. Testosterone develops and maintains secondary sex characteristics like deepening of the voice, large bones, hair growth patterns, muscle development and male sex organs. Testosterone is also responsible for libido and sexual function. Hormones from the hypothalamus of the brain and pituitary gland regulate the testosterone during puberty.
What is Low Testosterone?
Low testosterone is an abnormal level of the hormone testosterone. Also described as LT, testosterone is considered to be low when its level is below 300ng/dl in male patients, as against the normal range, which is 300- 1000ng/dl, according to FDA in the U.S. Serum testosterone test is used to determine the level of testosterone circulation. Other terms for low testosterone is Hypogonadism–which could be tertiary, primary and secondary–depending on the cause and level of testosterone deficiency.
It is not a natural phenomenon for testosterone to reduce below a certain level. Here are the biggest causes of low testosterone levels in men.
Causes of Low Testosterone
- Damage to the Hypothalamus or pituitary gland: When there is damage to the hypothalamus or pituitary gland of the brain, it causes low testosterone, thereby decreasing the hormones responsible for the control of the testosterone production. Conditions that can damage the hypothalamus or pituitary gland are severe shock, tuberculosis, structural abnormalities, HIV/AIDS, and tumors.
- Damage to the Sex Organs: Actually in men, as you age, the level of testosterone decreases gradually, while a low level of testosterone can occur as a result of a problem with male sex organs known as primary hypogonadism, pituitary gland known as secondary hypogonadism and the hypothalamus known as tertiary hypogonadism. As a man, conditions associated with damage of sex organs capable of causing low testosterone are: injury to the scrotum, cancer therapy, undescended testicles, inflammation of the testes and chromosomal problems.
- Lack of Sleep: Testosterone is produced by the testicle only at night, so lack of sleep causes the low production of testosterone. Replenishment of testosterone is effective with men sleeping 8 hours or more while reduced levels are seen with men that sleep for 4-6 hours long.
- Varicocele: These are mass of varicose veins found in the testicles that become enlarged and elongated. The valves in the pampiniform plexus allow the flow of blood from the testicles but when these valves are not functioning well, blood then builds up in the veins causing varicose veins. These are common in the left testicle and are known as a bag of worms. Varicocele disturbs the production of testosterone by hindering the blood to flow away, which means there is excess metabolic waste that reduces testicular function. Too much of blood in the vein can cause heat that will reduce sperm count.
- Excess Iron in the blood (hemochromatosis): Excess iron in the blood can damage the pituitary gland and testes.
- Tumors and Head trauma: These can affect the hypothalamus and pituitary gland.
- Inflammation: Some diseases and conditions like histiocytosis, sarcoidosis, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis can affect the pituitary gland or cause inflammation of hypothalamus.
- Infections: Meningitis, syphilis, and mumps lower testosterone levels.
- Anabolic steroids: Athletes and bodybuilders take anabolic steroids to make them faster and stronger. These can make the testicles shrink and lower the production of testosterone. When there is steroid in the body, the testicles can no longer produce testosterone. It thus means that testicles cannot produce testosterone even when steroids are off.
- Obesity: Some men’s testosterone is converted to estrogen naturally. Estrogen is a women hormone, though men need it to maintain healthy bone density. The conversion of testosterone to estrogen happens in fat cells. So, the more fat cells you have, the more testosterone is converted causing lower testosterone levels.
- Aging: Testosterone levels for most men start to reduce around age 40 and reduce about 1% every year. At age 70, the testosterone levels would have reduced by 30%. It is good to know that larger percentage of older men have their testosterone levels within the normal range.
- Stress: If you are under stress always, it means your reproductive ability is suffering. Cortisol level is increased by serious stress which reduces central hormone pathways and reproductive hormone secretion. It has also been shown that stress block testosterone from affecting the body positively.
- Beer: Normal alcohol consumption has been shown to reduce testosterone levels to 6.8%. The hops in most of the beer contain estrogen-like properties which can affect testosterone. It is advisable to avoid beer consumption altogether.
- Xenoestrogens: Thousands of man-made chemicals are now available in the environment. Many of them have estrogen-like activity. When you are exposed to endocrine disrupting chemicals like BPA and Phthalates (which have been shown to lower testosterone level at any age), it increases the chances of low testosterone levels in your body. The best way to avoid these chemicals is to eat organic foods.
- Refined Carbohydrates: Majority of our food supply is loaded with processed carbohydrates. Eating lot of carbohydrate leads to increase insulin secretion from the pancreas. High insulin suppresses testosterone production and it takes a lot of months to restore insulin secretion back to normal.
In essence, these are the causes of low testosterone and the next step is to see your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. One of the best options for treating low testosterone levels is to change your health/eating habits. It may take some time, to get it back to normal, but your testosterone levels can be revived. The Maleshop is an online male enhancer website that sells enhancement products to men in need of some help with the sexual department. Maleshop stock an array of products that contain various herbals, minerals and vitamins that has been proven to increase the male sex drive, male libido and eliminate sexual dysfunction problems like low sexual endurance, low testosterone levels and impotence.