Low Testosterone in Men
It is estimated that 40 percent of men over the age of 45 have low testosterone—going by the textbook definition anyway. However, multiple experts and recent literature point to higher numbers, considering that every man is unique and the amount of testosterone that drives optimal function may vary significantly from person to person.
Generally speaking, most men begin to experience symptoms of low testosterone in their late 30s and struggle with multiple, life-altering symptoms between 40 and 50 years of age. Not only do men with low testosterone face incredibly uncomfortable symptoms, but the risk of disease is much higher than men with healthy testosterone levels.
Man, it is time to take a closer look at your testosterone levels—your health and wellbeing depend on it.
What Is Andropause?
Testosterone is produced primarily in the testicles in men and plays a central role in a man’s appearance and sexual development. Testosterone stimulates sperm production, stimulates libido, and supports bone and muscle mass. Research has found that testosterone has a protective effect on a man’s health. Low levels of testosterone are associated with increased risk of chronic disease and all-cause mortality. Though testosterone is so vital to a man’s health and wellbeing, it is also a casualty in the process of aging.
When a man reaches his 30s, testosterone levels begin to decline, dropping by approximately 1 percent each year. The period of time when a man begins to experience symptoms of low testosterone—most often in his late 30s to early 40s—is also known as andropause. By the time a man is in his 70s he has only a fraction of the testosterone he had in his twenties, making him susceptible to heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and several other preventable chronic diseases.
Symptoms of Low Testosterone in Men
The symptoms of low testosterone, or andropause, as the condition is sometime referred, vary from person to person. Some men experience multiple symptoms while other will only grapple with one or two. Sometime the symptoms pile up over years, as testosterone levels continue to drop. For this reason, it is often easy to write off the symptoms as stress or aging, rather than a treatable condition that needs attention immediately.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you need to seek a consultation with a practitioner that specializes in hormone health and balance. Low testosterone can put you at risk of serious disease. With the right treatment plan, men can reduce their risk of disease and get rid of uncomfortable symptoms.
Disease Risk with Low Testosterone
Low testosterone in men has been linked to a number of chronic diseases. Multiple research studies have uncovered sound evidence that men who restore testosterone to healthy levels have fewer markers of disease and face an overall reduced risk of the disease.
Low testosterone increases insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a key factor in the progression and diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Research has shown that men with testosterone deficiency are at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Men who are treated with testosterone therapy and restore levels to optimal have a significantly lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
Low total and free testosterone are associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome independent of age or current obesity. Men with low serum testosterone are more likely to accumulate abdominal fat and visceral fat—both markers of disease risk.
There is a strong correlation between testosterone deficiency and poor cardiovascular outcomes. Testosterone plays a strong role in myocardial and vascular cell behavior. When levels are low, significant response elements are impaired. Research has shown that in men with all classes of heart failure, low testosterone was a common factor and predicted higher mortality rates.
High Blood Pressure
In 2021, researchers uncovered further evidence that low testosterone was a “promising risk marker for prevalent hypertension.” Older studies point to this outcome as well linking testosterone deficiency to increase cardiovascular risks and markers of cardiovascular disease. Articles published in peer-reviewed journals have also pointed to the number of men diagnosed with COVID-19 compared to women.
One article suggests that low testosterone may be a contributing factor to risk of the virus as well as poor outcomes in the event of diagnosis. While research is still in the early stages, the preliminary data is compelling.
Treatment for Low Testosterone
Men suffering from low testosterone may pursue several treatment options to restore levels and reduce or eliminate symptoms. Testosterone therapy is available in creams, gels, injections or pellets. Each delivery method has its pros and cons and should be supported by a treatment plan under the care of a practitioner highly trained and educated in hormone health and balance.
Testosterone Gels / Creams
Creams and gels are preferred by some patients for their ease of application and are a well-known delivery method. However, it is important to know that the risk of transference is high—higher than any other delivery method.
Injections are preferred by some patients because they may be administered at home and deliver a quick boost of testosterone after administration. However, injections also lead to great highs and lows during the treatment cycle, leaving patients facing uncomfortable symptoms between doses.
Pellet therapy is a method of delivery that dates back to the 1930s and offers both convenience and effective treatment. A tiny pellet, about the size of a grain of rice, is inserted under the skin and is slowly metabolized over 3 to 6 months, delivering a dose of testosterone that is vastly similar to the natural dosing cycle of the human body. There is no risk of transference, no worry about remembering to slather on a cream or take a pill, and the therapy is administered in even doses throughout the treatment cycle, avoiding significant highs and lows.
Regardless of the hormone therapy delivery method, men who are seeking to achieve optimal levels of testosterone should pair pharmaceutical grade supplements, a nutrient-rich diet, and routine exercise into their lifestyle.
Your practitioner can help guide you on the best nutraceuticals to support hormone optimization. For example, vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc have been linked to promoting healthy testosterone levels. Supplementing a combination of nutrients is essential to promote increased uptake of testosterone as well as support natural improvements in hormone levels.
Research has shown that a higher-fat (and, of course, low sugar) diet can support healthy testosterone levels. A balanced meal might contain fatty fish, like salmon with dark leafy greens, including spinach and kale. Dark leafy greens have been associated with improvements in testosterone health. Avocados, eggs, and berries top the list of foods that support optimal testosterone levels.
Physical activity of any kind is beneficial to better health, but it is well-known that resistance training or weight-bearing exercises promote both long- and short-term boosts in testosterone. Experts recommend an afternoon pump session for the most effective boost in testosterone.
Testosterone Pellet Therapy For Men
Pellets are the preferred method of delivery for testosterone replacement therapy due to the ease of administration, no hassle dosing and reduced risk of side effects.
Insertion is a simple in-office procedure that quick and virtually painless. During a short, in-office visit, your physician will insert a pellet, about the size of a grain of rice into a small incision made in the upper hip area. The incision is so small, it can be closed with a piece of tape. Once inserted, the body begins to slowly metabolize the pellet, releasing a steady dose of hormone over the course of 3 to 6 months, closely mimicking the body’s natural hormone secretion process. This feature ensures a consistent dose of hormone throughout the treatment cycle, eliminating the dramatic spikes and crashes in hormone levels that commonly occur with pills and injections.
In 2009, the “Journal of Sexual Medicine” published a study analyzing the data from studies of pellet therapy as far back as December of 2003 through April of 2008. The study focused on male subjects and found that of 86 percent of the patients were satisfied with the improvement of their symptoms and the ease of the insertion. No patient that followed post-insertion directions experienced any adverse side effects, such as infection or pellet extrusion.
Testosterone delivered by pellet implant, has been used to treat migraines, incontinence, urinary urgency and frequency. Testosterone has been shown to increase energy, relieve depression, increase sense of well-being, relieve anxiety, and improve memory and concentration. Testosterone pellets increase lean body mass (muscle strength, bone density) and decrease fat mass. Adequate levels of testosterone are necessary for optimal mental and physical health and for the prevention of chronic illnesses like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, which have been associated with low testosterone levels.