*First we were bombarded with the Ads for sexual performance drugs like Viagra and Cialis, informing that there was a new “medical condition” called Erectile Dysfunction (ED).
If you’ve watched television lately, you’ve seen your share of commercials talking about “Low T”, and you been left wondering half the time what in the world are they talking about?
There are many topics in our society that seem to be taboo in nature. While they go on all around us, people just don’t talk about them. One of those topics is low testosterone. The fact that so many shy away from the conversation can make many males feel embarrassed about it. However, there are many reasons for this to occur and it is nothing to hide or to be ashamed about. Talking about it can help you to make a plan of action you are happy with.
Testosterone is a male hormone that is found in higher amounts as a person goes through adolescents and into their early 20’s. As a person gets older, they may start to reduce their levels of testosterone. There are small levels of it for females, but their main level of sex hormone is estrogen.
Testosterone is also a primary element in being able to build muscle. This is one of the prime reasons why men are prone to have more muscle tone than women. When a person exercises, it is the testosterone that helps them to repair the muscles too. It is during the muscle rest and repair period that they also grow.
Most of the testosterone in a man’s body is produced in the testicles. It helps:
- Maintain reproductive tissues
- Stimulate sperm production
- Stimulate and maintain sexual function
- Increase muscle mass and strength
- Maintain bone strength
Just like your cholesterol or blood pressure, there is a numerical range of testosterone levels (also known as T levels) that are considered normal. The brain and the testicles work together to keep testosterone in this range. When levels of testosterone are below normal, the brain signals the testicles to make more. When testosterone levels reach a normal level, the brain signals the testicles to make less.
It’s natural for men to produce less testosterone as they age. What’s not a natural part of aging is a medical condition known as hypogonadism that can be caused by Low T. Symptoms include reduced sexual function, depressed mood, and decreased energy.
The signs and symptoms of Low T may be difficult to tell from the changes that occur with normal aging. Symptoms are frequently subtle, and are similar to those caused by other medical conditions.
Researchers are unlocking the mysteries of how low testosterone is related to men’s overall health. Along the way, they’re uncovering connections between low testosterone and other health conditions.
Diabetes, metabolic syndrome, depression, erectile dysfunction, obesity, and high blood pressure have all been linked to testosterone deficiency. Low testosterone isn’t known to cause these health problems, and replacing testosterone isn’t the cure. Still, the associations between low testosterone and other medical conditions are interesting and worth a look.
Experts don’t suggest that low testosterone causes these conditions. In fact, it might be the other way around. That is, men with medical problems or who are in poor general health might then develop low testosterone.
A link between diabetes and low testosterone is well established. Men with diabetes are more likely to have low testosterone. And men with low testosterone are more likely to later develop diabetes. Testosterone helps the body’s tissues take up more blood sugar in response to insulin. Men with low testosterone more often have insulin resistance: they need to produce more insulin to keep blood sugar normal.
Beginning in middle age, a man’s testosterone levels begin a steady decline, culminating in the so-called “andropause”. On the same time-scale, men begin to gain weight as fat, and to lose lean muscle mass. It’s now abundantly clear that these two processes are related—that is, the decline in testosterone levels is a direct cause of middle-aged men’s “battle of the bulge.
Obese men are more likely to have low testosterone. Men with very low testosterone are also 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. Less SHBG means less testosterone. Losing weight through exercise can increase testosterone levels.
When a man has lower than normal levels of testosterone it can lower his libido. It can also result in it being harder to create new muscle mass than before. Low testosterone usually isn’t a problem for women because they don’t have high levels of it. As a man gets older, it is natural for the amount of testosterone that is produced to be reduced.
Testosterone supplements in men with low testosterone can also reduce obesity slightly. There are various testosterone supplements too that can help someone to be able boost their level of testosterone. They are often found in health food stores and online. They seem to offer an all-natural way to increase levels of testosterone. Not all supplements though contain the same ingredients or offer the same overall value. It is very important to follow the directions on how to use them.
There are quite a few different testosterone supplements out there on the market to choose from. They can help to increase the value that someone gets from their diet and workout. These supplements help the muscles to get stronger and to be well defined in less time. They also help with the natural production of testosterone so that the levels don’t get too low.
It is very important that you carefully evaluate testosterone supplements before you buy one of them. Always take a good look at the ingredients that are found in that product. Familiarize yourself with the key ingredients that should be in testosterone supplements. You also want to explore those that you don’t know about. They could be very harsh ingredients that your body doesn’t need. If that is the case, then you should avoid using such supplemental products. They can end up doing more harm for you than good. If you don’t know the difference though you could fall into such a trap.
The signs and symptoms of Low T may be difficult to tell from the changes that occur with normal aging, or may be assumed to be caused by other medical conditions. So if you have symptoms of Low T, talk to your doctor during your routine checkup and ask if you should have a blood test.
Remember, I’m not a doctor. I just sound like one.
Take good care of yourself and live the best life possible!
The information included in this column is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.
Glenn Ellis, is a Health Advocacy Communications Specialist. He is the author of Which Doctor?, and is a health columnist and radio commentator who lectures, and is an active media contributor nationally and internationally on health related topics.
His second book, “Information is the Best Medicine”, was released in January, 2012.
For more good health information, visit: www.glennellis.com