What is testosterone?

Testosterone is a steroid hormone naturally produced in the male body. Among other things, it’s responsible for the maintenance of secondary sex characteristics, such as the growth of body hair and muscle mass.

Low Testosterone (T) is one of the unintended consequences of taking some medications. The testosterone level of a healthy young male generally ranges from 300 to 800 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl), with figures of less than 300 ng/dL generally considered to be low T (also known as hypogonadism). Symptoms of low testosterone may include a reduction in muscle mass, decline in bone density (raising the risk of osteoporosis), low libido, memory problems, concentration difficulties, depression, weight gain, erectile dysfunction and lack of energy.

Chemotherapy: Various chemotherapy drugs can damage cells that produce testosterone. In many cases the damage is permanent, though testosterone levels may bounce back in some men. Low T is reportedly a problem for between 40 and 90 percent of men diagnosed with cancer.

Antidepressants: Use of antidepressants is supposed to help lift your spirits, but these drugs may also lower testosterone levels. If you are taking antidepressants, talk to your doctor about the possible negative impact on your testosterone levels.

If you are experiencing symptoms of low testosterone, the drugs or medications you are using may be a factor.

Testosterone is a hormone present in both males and females, but males have larger quantities. Men’s testosterone levels peak around age 30 and then begin to decline at a rate of about one percent a year. Around age 40, men might start to notice some changes due to the hormone loss -decreased sex drive, erectile problems, infertility, muscle and strength loss, changes in sleep patterns and emotional changes like depression. In severe cases of testosterone depletion, there may be a prescription of hormone therapy, but, for the average man, a few lifestyle changes can boost the male hormone.

Step 1

Get eight hours of sleep per night. During the REM phases of sleep your body produces testosterone; a lack of sleep will reduce testosterone levels.

Step 2

Cut out all soy products from your diet. Soy can be found in tofu and edamame but also in hotdogs, lunchmeat, meatless substitutes and even some whip cream. Soy increases levels of estrogen in the body, a female hormone, and decreases testosterone levels.

Step 3

Make sure 30 percent of your daily calories come from good fats like olive oil, fish, avocados, nuts and seeds, all of which contain monounsaturated fats that have positive effects on testosterone levels.

Step 4

Reduce your stress level by practicing yoga and meditation, solving personal, professional or financial problems, or simply by doing something that you enjoy every day. Stress raises cortisol levels, which leads to lower levels of testosterone.

Step 5

Exercise with more intensity. Incorporate compound exercises that use more than one muscle group at a time−squats, push-ups, pull-ups, rows−into your workout; studies show these increase testosterone levels more than exercises that only use one muscle group.

Step 6

Quit smoking. Nicotine reduces testosterone production.

Step 7

Take a zinc supplement. Zinc deficiency can lead to lowered testosterone levels in men. Check with your doctor to see if your zinc levels are low and then only take as much zinc as you need to bring your testosterone to normal levels. Taking too much zinc can have unwanted side effects.

Male menopause, or andropause, is referred to as the combination of symptoms that are an effect of plummeting hormonal levels. Symptoms include changes in sexual function, sleep patterns and a variety of possible emotional differences. Honesty with your doctor, even about uncomfortable topics such as possible erectile dysfunction, is necessary to receive proper care.