I am the first one to say that testosterone is important for a healthy, long life. Clearly, men with low levels, termed hypogonadism, do not live as long as men with normal testosterone levels. This epidemic of low testosterone has been linked to economic recession, wars, bank failures and even global warming. OK, so maybe I'm exaggerating, but many men feel (or are told) that their testosterone levels are the root cause of much of the way they feel. But before we blame the decline of the male human race on a single hormone, let’s review some facts about testosterone:
Testosterone decreases as a function of age in all men. Believe it or not, this starts happening by age 30 years.
Testosterone decreases by as much as 50% between ages 25 and 75 years.
The degree of testosterone decline varies by individual.
Unlike menopause, testosterone typically shows a gradual decline with age and does not fall suddenly or dramatically. As a general rule of thumb, testosterone levels decrease by 1% annually after the age of 40 years.
I understand too, what testosterone isn’t and can’t do. So, I am entirely empathetic to patients who ask: “Doc, what can I do to naturally increase my testosterone levels?” Take great care of yourself. Stay healthy, reduce stress, and get sleep and exercise.
Lifestyle Changes to Improve Testosterone Balance
Lose weight. Fat converts testosterone to female hormones called estrogens. Less fat means less circulating female hormone levels.
Exercise. Although it is true that while you exercise, testosterone levels may be lower, exercise stimulates muscle recovery and growth through increased testosterone at rest.
Get good sleep. Poor sleep habits stress the body as a whole and stress reduces testosterone levels
Eat smart and cut the alcohol. Eat healthy meals regularly; skipping is not allowed, and cut down on alcohol as it tends to impair testosterone production.
If all else fails, see a specialist, as there are excellent prescription medications that can boost your body’s testosterone production, which is not the same as testosterone replacement. Clomiphene citrate, tamoxifen and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) are not anabolic steroids, nor are they FDA approved in the U.S. for this purpose. But they are drugs that either convince the brain to send more gas (luteinizing hormone, LH) to the testicles to make more of your own testosterone, or directly provide the LH to stimulate testicles to make it. Unlike anabolic steroids, they encourage bio-identical (like your own) testosterone production, and do not impair fertility or shrink testicles like taking high doses of pharmaceutical grade testosterone have shown to do.
How do these therapies stack up against the bio-identical? First, you can’t get any more natural than increasing your own testosterone. Second, we can easily individualize doses to make them just right for you. Third, this approach embraces the concept of holistic care by fully promoting lifestyle changes. Fourth, there may be comfort in knowing that what you’re taking has been shown to be safe in humans by rigorous FDA standards.
The best plan is try to optimize your testosterone balance naturally, as these behaviors are generally healthy and good for a long and happy life.