Nearly half of men over age 45 have low testosterone levels, a condition that can leave them feeling weak, depressed, and not at all interested in intimacy.Over time, low testosterone can even make bones brittle and prone to breaking. Low testosterone, or “low-T,” can make a man miserable. 

You’re probably aware of a few conditions that contribute to low testosterone levels. The usual suspects include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and addictions to certain substances. If you don’t suffer from one of those common culprits, you might assume you’re not at risk.

Not so fast: As researchers trace the causes of low testosterone back to a menagerie of discrete sources, it starts to seem like there’s a threat to a man’s hormonal balance hiding around every corner.

Low-T can make a man miserable.

Here are some of the most surprising (and dismaying) things that have been associated with low testosterone levels:

1. Certain Cholesterol-Lowering Medications

High cholesterol can totally mess with testosterone levels. We know this. However, if you’ve got extremely low cholesterol, you might see a similar effect.
“Cholesterol is part of what builds testosterone,” Neil Paulvin, OD, tells FashionBeans. Paulvin specializes in hormone replacement and sports medicine. “If it is too low, around 140, you can’t build enough testosterone.”

Some research shows that certain cholesterol medications may affect T-levels.
In a 2013 scientific article, researchers found that statins (medications that reduce fat levels, including cholesterol levels) produce “small, but statistically significant” decreases in testosterone levels. However, the authors noted that the statistics aren’t especially helpful on a case-by-case basis, since doctors need to treat each patient individually.”We need to acknowledge this shortcoming if we are going to learn more about benefits and risks of drugs and really understand whether side effects … truly matter,” the authors wrote.In other words, don’t stop taking your cholesterol medications simply because you’re worried about your T-levels—and don’t try to boost your cholesterol levels in an effort to build your testosterone.

2. Being in a Happy Relationship

When it comes to low testosterone, it seems you just can’t win for losing. Lots of men worry about their hormone levels because they want to have happy, fulfilling romantic relationships, and low-T can get in the way of physical intimacy.

That’s what makes this one so perplexing: Men in happy relationships seem to have significantly lower T-levels.
Maybe this can help explain the arcane process by which “Netflix and chill” slowly becomes actually watching TV and chilling out.A 2003 study from the journal Hormones and Behavior asked 122 men to describe their romantic relationships. Then the researchers collected saliva samples that were used to test participants’ testosterone levels.The men who reported being in “committed romantic relationships” had testosterone levels that were, on average, 21 percent (!) lower than those of their swinging bachelor counterparts.Maybe this can help explain the arcane process by which “Netflix and chill” slowly becomes actually watching TV and chilling out.

3. Getting Old

Some drop in testosterone is unavoidable; it’s just part of the adventure called aging.

You can’t stop testosterone from dropping for this reason, unfortunately. The good news is that the testosterone decreases associated with aging tend to even out eventually, provided that you live long enough.According to the American Urological Association, approximately 40 percent of men age 45 and older have clinically low testosterone. That number drops to just 20 percent who are age 60 and older, then settles down at around 30 percent for men over 70.That’s small consolation, but we’ll take it.

4. Struggling With Obesity

Every day, health reporters introduce us to a truckload of horrors associated with obesity. Here’s your daily dose.

A 2010 study found that a full 40 percent of obese, nondiabetic participants—all male, aged 45 or older—had low testosterone. Throw diabetes into the mix and that figure leaps to 50 percent.

If that’s not enough to convince you obesity is bad for your hormones, check out the authors’ conclusion on their findings:”In view of its high prevalence, obesity is probably the condition most frequently associated with subnormal free testosterone concentrations in males.”In other words, when it comes to low-T, obesity is the No. 1 culprit.”With obesity, you can have an increase in estrogen, so that will decrease your testosterone in that regard,” Paulvin says. “In addition, it can mess with your insulin levels, which can also decrease your testosterone levels.”

5. Joining the Army

If a spaceship full of benevolent aliens landed on your lawn and hollered, “Quick! Where can we find the highest concentration of testosterone around here? We need to extract it in a harmless, noninvasive way or else our whole planet will explode,” you might point them to the nearest military training camp.

All those sweating, screaming, straining young recruits are bound to be packed to the brim with testosterone, right? Well…somehow, no.

A 1990 study looked at what happens to testosterone levels when men go to boot camp. It wasn’t really an Army boot camp that the researchers studied, but a “90-day shock incarceration program, modeled after military boot camp,” which we consider close enough.Anyway, those guys didn’t get more manly as they ran obstacle courses and saluted and got yelled at—at least in terms of their hormones. Yes, they actually developed lower testosterone levels during their 90-day training session.”There were significant differences among individuals in both mean scores and changes over time,” researchers found.The implications of this research are pretty fascinating. These findings dovetail with previous studies that suggest testosterone production slows down when men feel like their social status has dropped, although overtraining could be responsible for part of the effect (we’ll get to that in a minute).How’s that for some fragile masculinity?

7. Burning the Midnight Oil

Who has time to sleep anymore? Not people with low testosterone, that’s for sure.

A lack of sleep can affect your testosterone level.

A study out of the University of Chicago found that young men who averaged about five hours of sleep per night reduced their testosterone levels by 10 to 15 percent. And those guys were 24 years old and fit.

How much damage do you think a sleepless night is doing to the testosterone levels of, say, a 35-year-old dude with prediabetes or a cholesterol problem?”A lack of sleep can affect all of [your] hormones, including your testosterone level,” Paulvin says. He notes that sleep deprivation often correlates with increased stress, which also prevents the body from producing hormones normally.Takeaway: If you want to keep those hormones in balance, get your beauty sleep.

7. Health Food

Flaxseeds are really good for you. They’re full of omega-3 fatty acids and every type of fiber you could want moving through you. They also have an insanely high concentration of chemicals called lignans.

For the most part, lignans have a great reputation. Most notably, they might guard against prostate cancer and polycystic ovary syndrome(PCOS).

Here’s the thing about both of those conditions, though: They’re associated with high testosterone levels.
In one study, researchers had a woman with PCOS take 30 grams of flaxseed every day for around 100 days. At the end of the study, the woman’s total serum testosterone had decreased by 70 percent.

That’s terrific news for women with PCOS. It’s not great news for men who are worried about low-T. However, before you throw out your flaxseed waffles, you should probably talk to your doctor, as low testosterone isn’t something you can self-diagnose.

8. Working Out (or Not Working Out)

As men get older, they need to exercise regularly to maintain their muscle mass, but training can also help to keep T-levels in line. Exercisers generally have higher testosterone levels than couch potatoes—about 14 percent higher, according to one study.

However, if you train too hard, you’ll run into issues.

When [people with low testosterone levels] work out, they may feel that they’re not getting the benefits of those workouts.

“There’s something called overtraining syndrome where people work out too much,” Paulvin says. “It almost kind of shuts down some of the systems, and the body will start decreasing the testosterone level.”

 

 

Overtraining syndrome also affects brain and immune system functionality, and a 2012 medical guide describes it as “common in athletes.” If you train hard without giving your body adequate recovery time, you may notice the effects right away; you’ll feel fatigued, you won’t be able to keep your thoughts straight (a condition called “brain fog”), and you may not gain much muscle.”When [people with low testosterone levels] work out, they may feel that they’re not getting the benefits of those workouts,” Paulvin says.So, how can you make sure that you’re not overtraining? That’s simple: Listen to your body.Make sure that you’re getting enough rest between your workouts, take frequent breaks, and don’t try to increase the difficulty too quickly. If you’re not getting the gains you’re anticipating, speak with a sports medicine physician. Paulvin says that treatment options vary from patient to patient, but medications and supplements can be quite effective.However, you should only take them under the close supervision of a medical professional—and no, your local GNC store manager doesn’t count.Source: bit.ly/2kTjVkM
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