Men — Don’t Live One Third Of Your Life In A State Of Sex-Hormone Deficiency
As we age our body’s natural testosterone levels drops, what you can do to get this essential hormone back in balance.
Men with low testosterone in the United States is at epidemic levels. In 2007, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, published a study showing that approximately one-quarter of men over 30 have low testosterone.² I know, I was one of these men.
Full disclosure, I am not a doctor or medical professional. So why listen to me? While I am not a doctor I am an expert in researching, and distilling my research for into practical and usable information that can be applied.
Blood Test Results
My blood test results in 2018 were dismal, my testosterone levels were 302 ng/dL. To put that testosterone level into perspective, consider that in 1987 the average 60 year old men had a testosterone level of 505 ng/dL, according to a well respected population study.⁸
While my physician admitted, “That’s low, but it’s still in the normal range”. Which was his way of saying he couldn’t (wouldn’t) do anything to boost my sagging testosterone. Having no medical option, initiated my desire to increase my testosterone levels and balance my hormone levels naturally. That started with learning as much as I could about testosterone.
My original article on testosterone covered both men and women, but it was a bit convoluted jumping between the two sexes, so I split the article into two. One article focused on women and this article focuses on men.
Testosterone is a hormone present in both men and women’s bodies. It is the main hormone responsible for our masculine characteristics. In both men and women, testosterone affects sex drive, muscle mass, fat composition, lethargy, and mood.
The biological effects of testosterone in men have been known since antiquity. The reason we learned this so early in our history is that the testes, where 95% of the man’s testosterone is secreted, are external to the male body and are easily removable. Say it with me, Ouch!
Aristotle (384–322 BC) observed and reported the effects of castration. However, the castration of males has been documented as early as 1300 BC, as the country of China performed the practice to create eunuchs. Castration was also performed on slaves and defeated soldiers, in addition to being used as punishment for those who committed various crimes.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is an anabolic steroid. I know, sometimes the words anabolic steroid is a Pavlovian dog whistle suggesting negative associations to athletes and body builders. However, we ought not label steroids as being “bad.” The human body uses many steroids every day to stay alive and function.
Testosterone is the first anabolic steroid found. Anabolic steroids increase protein production, what we common lay-folk think of as muscles and bone. However, the few athletes who abuse anabolic steroids rarely do so with plain old testosterone. Designer steroids are available that are more potent than testosterone. And if they are abusing testosterone, it is in dosages that far exceed what a normal replacement (physiological) dose of testosterone used in Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT).
The focus of this article is to restore your youthful levels of mental and physical fitness by balancing testosterone, to an optimum level.
Men in their twenties will produce 5 to 10 milligrams of testosterone per day. Ninety-five percent (95%) of testosterone is produced by Leydig cells in the testicles. The remaining 5% is produced by the adrenal glands.
An OBGYN doctor discovered testosterone therapy to combat his own symptoms of low testosterone and shared his experience in a TED talk. Not only for himself, but his wife as well, who also happens to be a doctor. At the time she was only 39 years old when she started testosterone therapy. He presented an interesting TED talk, you can view on Youtube here:
Testing Testosterone Levels
For an accurate measurement of your testosterone level, you need a blood test. A complete testosterone test will give three numbers associated with your testosterone measurement; Total Testosterone, Bioavailable, and Free.
Total Testosterone is the accumulated number of all the different forms of testosterone in the body.
About 45% to 65% of testosterone is strongly bound to the Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin (SHBG) protein. The SHBG bound testosterone is biologically inactive.
Approximately 33% to 50% of testosterone is weakly bound to albumin. This percentage of testosterone is called bioavailable testosterone. This form of testosterone can be converted to free testosterone, when the body runs low on free testosterone.
Finally, we have 1% to 3% of free testosterone that is biologically active. This is the amount of testosterone that is available to the cells in your body to work its magic.
Male Population Decline In Testosterone
Men with low testosterone in the United States is at epidemic levels. A study has shown that between the years 1987 and 2004, the population decline in American men’s testosterone decreased by over 17%.¹ This decline in testosterone was age independent, meaning age was factored out and has nothing to do with the decline in testosterone reported.
In 2007, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, published a study showing that approximately one-quarter of men over 30 have low testosterone.²
Common indicators of low testosterone include a diminishing sex drive, erectile dysfunction, excessive fatigue, depression, and apathy, along with a decrease in physical strength, endurance, bone density, and muscle mass.
If that isn’t enough bad news, low testosterone has been linked to other unhealthy medical issues such as; increased insulin resistance, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and high blood pressure. 3,4
How Bad Is The Population Decline?
Bad. If we look at the declining sperm count of the American male, there is a 60% decrease in sperm count from the 1930s to 2011. 5,6,7.
I believe there is a similar decline in testosterone in the American male. As stated, in January 2007, the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism published a study of 1,532 men. Data was collected from men at three time periods between 1987 and 2004. The overall results show a population decline in testosterone of approximately 17% across the board. This decline is not due to age (age-independent) or lifestyle characteristics, as they had been factored out of the analysis.
Let’s look at one segment. The 60-year-old men in 1987 had a total testosterone level of approximately 505 ng/dl. In 2004, 60-year-old men had a testosterone level of approximately 435 ng/dl. That’s about a 15% decline for this segment. 8
If we take this 17-year period and extrapolated (extend the graph) the decline in testosterone backwards to the 1930s, it would show that testosterone may have declined by the same percentage as men’s sperm count. If we extend the graph of the decline forward, it would predict a continuous population decline in men’s testosterone.
Do we see a continuing population decline?
In July 2017, LabCorp lowered their testosterone “normal” reference range for men from 348 to 1197 ng/dl to 264–941 ng/dL. Whoa! Why? The partial reason for this, as explained by LabCorp, is the higher BMI of the average male. BMI is a terrible indicator of health, but LabCorp is reflecting the growing obesity of the American male and its negative effect of fat on testosterone levels. See my article: Understanding Fat.
So rather than sounding an alarm of a population decline in men’s testosterone levels, they instead normalized the decline and made the declined testosterone levels the new “normal.”
The New Normal — 265 ng/dL
Then for whom is 265 ng/dL considered a normal testosterone level? Certainly not the average 60-year-old-man from 1987 whose testosterone level was 505 ng/dl. What about a twenty year old man, trying to start a family with his wife or build muscle in a gym. Yet, by Quest and LabCorp standards, 265 ng/dl testosterone level is within the normal range.
Most physicians use these lab ranges to determine normal testosterone range. In other words, ignore the patient and treat the blood results. Reminds me of the time when physicians used to tell women about menstrual cramps, “It’s all in your head.” We don’t hear them saying that anymore, do we?
But I digress. I don’t think a twenty-year-old man and a ninety-year-old man should have their testosterone levels evaluated on the same “Normal Testosterone Range”. That’s my opinion on the matter.
This new low normal of testosterone allows doctors an excuse not to prescribe testosterone replacement therapy and insurance companies a reason not to cover the cost.
The population decline in testosterone is related to the population increase in a host of chronic diseases.
The common symptoms of low testosterone include a diminishing sex drive, erectile dysfunction, excessive fatigue, depression, and apathy, along with a decrease in physical strength, endurance, bone density, and muscle mass.
In addition, low testosterone is linked to other unhealthy medical issues such as; increased insulin resistance, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and high blood pressure. 3,4
Benefits of Optimal Testosterone
These symptoms can be reversed, if it is low testosterone that caused these symptoms to begin with. Restoring testosterone levels will; increased libido, reduction of erectile dysfunction, greater energy, improved mood and confidence, greater strength, endurance, muscle mass, and bone density. In addition, there is supportive evidence that high testosterone levels improve insulin resistance and improve body composition. 9
Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) or Boost Testosterone Naturally
If your testosterone values are medically low, you ought to have the option of hormone replacement therapy. You may want to try increasing your testosterone naturally, and if that fails, move on to replacement therapy. In attempting to boost your testosterone naturally, you ought to be improving your general health with diet, exercise, and supplements. Even if you fail, these first steps will form a solid foundation for TRT to work.
Goal: 550 ng/dL or Greater
It’s hard to hit a target when you can’t see it. A man’s goal is to achieve a testosterone level of 550 ng/dl or greater. Why a minimum of 550 ng/dl? A five-year study (7) published by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology reported that men with a testosterone level of 550 ng/dl have a 30% lower risk of cardiovascular events. Any level of total testosterone below 550 ng/dL showed a significant increase in risk.
Other testosterone studies confirm that men who have high levels of testosterone have a decreased prevalence of many other diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, prostate issues, and lower body fat percentages.
550 ng/dL is the bottom baseline, in this case, more is better. If you can push your testosterone higher into the 700–900 ng/dL range, you’ll feel better.
Conversion of measurements
Because lab test results can provide testosterone level in different measurements, I am including a few basic conversions. With testosterone, we want a minimum total level of 35 ng/dl for health.
To convert ng/dL to nmol/l multiply by 0.034.
So a lab result of 35 ng/dL is converted to nmol/l by multiplying by .034. (35 ng/dL * .034 = 1.2 nmol/l).
To convert nmol/l to ng/dL, you multiply by 29.4.
So going back, 1.2 nmol/l * 29.4 = 35 /ng/dL (actual number is 35.28 but rounds to 35)
To convert pg/ml to ng/dL
Ten pg/ml equals one ng/dL. To convert ng/dL to pg/ml multiply by 10.
Nutrition, Supplements and Exercise
I was able to bring my testosterone levels up, from the 302 ng/dL to a healthier 540 ng/dL through the use of nutrition, supplements and exercise. It didn’t happen overnight. It took work, I also dropped a considerable amount of fat in the process. Just losing a large amount of fat, boosted my testosterone levels.
I will be writing a more in depth article on boosting testosterone using nutrition, supplements and exercise, until then here are a few tips.
Resistance exercises will help boost testosterone. The best exercises use the larger muscle groups, like in your legs. In my opinion, one of the top exercises is squats, an alternative to squats are lunges.
The top three supplements I recommend are:
Boron: At the top of the list is the mineral boron. Extensive testing shows that boron increases testosterone in both women and men. A daily dose of 6 mg of boron has been shown to significantly increase free testosterone in men while significantly reducing estradiol (estrogen) in a week. (study)
The basic guideline for nutrition is simple. Reduce eating processed foods, white flour and white sugar products; pasta, cookies, soda, cakes and pastries.
Increase eating whole foods and vegetables, eat organic if available.
Replace the use of plastics with glass in food and water storage.
Red Light Therapy:
One-quarter of men in the US over 30 have low testosterone. 2 Those low testosterone statistics do not improve with a man’s age.
Men after the age of 30, their testosterone levels can drop 0.4 to 2 % annually. (study). The estimated age a man’s testosterone level will drop below the recommended 550 ng/dL level, will occur in their forties.8 The average life expectancy of men is 76 years. At the point most men’s testosterone drops below the optimum level, he still has more than a third of his life ahead of him.
By addressing the symptoms caused by dropping testosterone levels, and bringing them back to an optimal level will increase the quality of your life. I hope this article provided a solid foundation for you to continue learning about the value having an optimum level of testosterone.
Online Hormone and Anti-Aging Specialists
Full Disclosure: I am not in any way financially associated with, or financially benefiting in any way, with any referenced specialists below. Nor is their listing here an endorsement of their services. I know how frustrating working with non-specialized physicians can be, so they are provided as a potential source for both men and women who may not have local anti-aging specialists in their area. These specialists offer consultations, order blood tests, interpret the blood test results, and write prescriptions if needed and desired.
Allure MD Spa & Wellness Center
Genesys Medical Institute
1) Travison TG , et al. (n.d.). A population-level decline in serum testosterone levels in American men. — PubMed — NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17062768
2) Prevalence of Symptomatic Androgen Deficiency in Men. (2007, November 1). Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/92/11/4241/2598366
3) Low Testosterone and Your Health. (2008, July 3). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/men/what-low-testosterone-can-mean-your-health#1
4) Testosterone for the aging male; current evidence and recommended practice. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2544367/
5) Evidence for decreasing quality of semen during past 50 years. (12, September). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1883354/
6) Temporal trends in sperm count: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis. (2017, July 25). Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/humupd/article/23/6/646/4035689
7) Auger J , et al. (n.d.). Decline in semen quality among fertile men in Paris during the past 20 years. — PubMed — NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7816062
8) Population-Level Decline in Serum Testosterone Levels in American Men. (2007, January 1). Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/92/1/196/2598434
9) Testosterone for the aging male; current evidence and recommended practice. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2544367/
10) Glaser R and Dimitrakakis C. (n.d.). Testosterone therapy in women: myths and misconceptions. — PubMed — NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23380529
11) TTFB — Clinical: Testosterone, Total, Bioavailable, and Free, Serum. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.mayocliniclabs.com/test-catalog/Clinical+and+Interpretive/83686
12) Androgen Therapy in Women: A Reappraisal: An Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline. (2014, October 1). Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/99/10/3489/2836272