Testosterone is a sex hormone that your body produces. Typically, men produce more than women. Some men may have low testosterone levels. This is known as hypogonadism. Your hormone level decreases as you age. Certain medications and health conditions can also affect you, including:
- Cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy.
- Testicular cancer
- Injury to the testicles
- Hypothyroidism (low thyroid levels)
- Problems with your nervous system
Path to better health
Low testosterone levels can affect your physical and mental behavior. Talk to your doctor if you have symptoms, such as:
- Low sexual desire
- Low sperm count
- Erectile dysfunction
- Humor changes
- Muscle or bone loss
- Decreased strength
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
- Sleeping problems
- Trouble concentrating
These can also be due to other health problems. Your doctor will likely perform a physical exam and review your lifestyle to determine the problem. Additionally, you may have a blood test to check your levels. Men typically have between 300 and 1,000 nanograms (ng) of testosterone per deciliter (dL). If your test results show a low level, you may need to increase the hormone. This can be done naturally.
Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is the most common. This involves the use of artificial hormones. There are several ways your doctor can prescribe you. They include gel, a patch, or an injection. TRT is not an option for men who have certain health problems, including prostate or breast cancer. TRT may also not help men who have low testosterone levels due to advanced age.
TRT is often done in combination with other lifestyle changes. These changes promote good overall health. If you are obese, you should try to lose weight. You can achieve this by eating better and exercising more. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Try to control your stress levels. This allows your body to focus its energy on testosterone production.
Men with low testosterone levels should eat foods with zinc and vitamin D. These can help balance hormones and produce more testosterone. Adult men should consume about 11 milligrams of zinc per day. Zinc is found in meat, poultry, seafood, and shellfish. Beans, nuts, and whole grains are also good sources. These foods, in addition to dairy, also contain vitamin D. Adult men should consume about 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day. You should also eat less sugar and saturated fat.
Things to consider
Your doctor may want to perform other tests to find the cause of low testosterone levels. This will help them decide if you also need other treatment.
TRT has benefits and risks. The goal of therapy is to eliminate the symptoms of low testosterone. The treatment is known to improve men’s sexual desire and mood. However, studies show that it can increase the risk of plaque buildup and heart disease. Talk to your doctor more about specific concerns. Make sure they know if you are at risk for any other health conditions.
Questions to ask your doctor
- Will I always have low testosterone?
- How long does TRT last?
- Should I take a supplement to increase my testosterone?