If you are reading this, you already know testosterone is known as a male hormone. It plays a vital role in sex drive or libido, muscles, bones and blood. Low testosterone and your health are tied very closely, if you are a male. Females do have testosterone as well, in much lower levels.
Testosterone levels decrease in men, naturally as they age. It can decline as much as one to two percent per year after the age of 40. It can also be impacted by some medical conditions, surgery, and other physical issues such as the loss of a testicle.
Male Menopause – Low T
Lowered testosterone in middle age is also referred to as male menopause or andropause.
Male menopause symptoms (Low T) include:
- Loss of sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction
- Hot flashes
- Mood fluctuations and irritability
- Loss of muscle mass
- Belly fat
- Tiredness and weariness
- Sweating more than normal
- Loss of concentration or focus and short-term memory
Is Low testosterone an Indication of Poor Health?
Some studies have shown wide-ranging links between low testosterone and various medical conditions. One such study in 2006 showed that
in 2,100 men over the age of 45, the odds of having low testosterone were:
- 2.4 times higher for men that were seriously overweight
- 2.1 times higher for men with diabetes
- 1.8 times higher for men with high blood pressure
No one is suggesting that low testosterone causes these conditions. The odds are, the opposite is probably true. In other words, men with existing medical problems or those who are not in very good health, are more likely to develop low testosterone.
There is much more research still needed and it is ongoing, into the relationship between low testosterone and several other health conditions.
Diabetes and Low Testosterone
It has been well-established that there is an obvious link between diabetes and low testosterone. Bottom line is, men with diabetes are more likely to have low testosterone. But, it is also true that men with low testosterone are also more likely to develop diabetes, at some time later down the road. A vicious cycle occurs.
Testosterone helps the body take up more blood sugar in response to insulin. Men with low testosterone typically have insulin resistance, where they need to produce more insulin to keep blood sugar normal.
As many as half of the men with diabetes that were randomly tested, had low testosterone. Scientists aren’t sure whether diabetes causes low testosterone, or the other way around. Short-term studies show testosterone replacement therapy may improve blood sugar levels in diabetic men with low testosterone.
Low Testosterone and Obesity
Here we go again with another one of those chicken and egg deals. It has been clearly shown that obesity and low testosterone are very closely linked. That’s right, obese men are more likely to have low testosterone and of course, men with very low testosterone are more likely to become obese.
Fat cells metabolize testosterone to estrogen, lowering testosterone levels. Also, obesity reduces levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), a protein that carries testosterone in the blood. We have seen in many studies, less SHBG means less testosterone.
Losing weight through the correct exercises can increase testosterone levels.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) may promote weight loss in obese older men who have low levels of testosterone, according to findings presented at 2012 European Congress on Obesity in Lyon, France.
In that study, researchers followed a group of mostly older, overweight men receiving injections of the hormone for up to five years to treat Erectile Dysfunction (ED) and other symptoms associated with low testosterone. The men who were treated the longest, lost more than 30 pounds on average over the course of the study and also showed improvements in blood pressure, blood glucose and LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Before men try to lose weight just by trying to increase their testosterone via injections, much more research needs to be done. Please discuss with your physician before doing anything medically to increase your testosterone, outside of natural herbs and vitamins.
Metabolic Syndrome and Low Testosterone
Metabolic syndrome is not an actual disease. It is instead, the name for a condition that includes the occurrence of abnormal cholesterol
levels, high blood pressure, midriff obesity (belly fat), and high blood sugar. People with the condition of metabolic syndrome, have an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
And once again, studies have shown that men with low testosterone are more likely to develop metabolic syndrome. In some shorter studies,
testosterone replacement improved blood sugar levels and obesity in men that had low testosterone. The long-term benefits and risks are not yet all known, but here is a list of side effects that can occur with TRT:
- Acne or oily skin
- Some fluid retention
- Stimulation of prostate tissue, with some increased urination symptoms such as a decreased stream or frequency
- Increased risk of developing prostate irregularities
- Breast enlargement (man boobs) – No thanks!
- Increased risk of blood clots
- Worsening of sleep apnea – a sleep disorder that results in frequent nighttime awakenings and daytime sleepiness
- Decreased testicle size – great, I would have to buy new underwear 🙂
- Increased hostility and mood swings
- May increase risk of heart attack and stroke
Testosterone and Heart Issues Leading to Disease
Testosterone has varied effects on the arteries. Many experts believe testosterone contributes to the higher rates of heart disease and high blood pressure in men at younger ages. Using this rational, high testosterone is probably bad for the heart.
Testosterone deficiency is connected to insulin resistance, obesity, and diabetes. We know that each of these problems increases cardiovascular risk and may lead to heart disease. Men with diabetes and low testosterone also have higher rates of narrowing and hardening of the arteries.
Some amount of testosterone may be necessary for healthy arteries because it’s converted into estrogen, which in turn, protects arteries from damage.
Additional Low Testosterone Associated Conditions
Low testosterone, many times occurs with other medical conditions as listed below:
- Depression: In a study of almost 4,000 men older than 70, those with the lowest testosterone levels were more than twice as likely to be depressed. This link remained even after allowing for age, general health, obesity, and other variables.
- Erectile dysfunction (ED): Problems with erections are one of the most common symptoms of low testosterone. Most ED is caused by narrowing or hardening of the arteries. Men with risk factors for atherosclerosis – diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or obesity – generally have low testosterone, as well.
- High blood pressure: Men with high blood pressure may be almost twice as likely to have low testosterone as men with normal blood pressure. On the other hand, too much testosterone can increase blood pressure.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) – Good or Bad Idea?
So, the question is, does low testosterone cause or make medical problems like diabetes worse? Or are people who develop diabetes, or other health problems, simply more likely to also have low testosterone?
There is evidence both ways. But, there is no doubt that if you are healthy, not overweight, eat correctly and get proper amount of sleep and exercise, you are much less likely to have low testosterone.
And finally, remember that testosterone replacement has not been irrefutably shown to improve any health condition other than testosterone
deficiency and its symptoms. For men with low testosterone levels as measured by a blood test who also have symptoms of low testosterone, the decision to take testosterone replacement is one to make with your doctor. And, don’t forget to take in consideration all the side effects or TRT before making your decision.
If you would like to check your own T level at home, here is the only kit I recommend. No doctor to go to and no poke with a needle!
Best of luck to you and your health, and thank you for reading my article. I truly hope you learned some valuable information from it. Leave your comments below”