Andrew Siegel MD 9/3/2016
(CDC/Amanda Mills from Public Health Image Library)
Two weeks ago, my entry was about the medication Clomid–a nice alternative to testosterone replacement therapy. What about a non-pharmacological, natural approach to raising testosterone levels?
Testosterone (T) is produced mostly in the testes, although the adrenal glands also manufacture a small amount. T has a critical role in male development and physical characteristics. It promotes tissue growth via protein synthesis, having “anabolic” effects including building of muscle mass, bone mass and strength, and “androgenic” (masculinizing) effects at the time of puberty. With the T surge at puberty many changes occur: penis enlargement; development of an interest in sex; increased frequency of erections; pubic, axillary, facial, chest and leg hair; decrease in body fat and increase in muscle and bone mass, growth and strength; deepened voice and prominence of the Adam’s apple; occurrence of fertility; and bone and cartilage changes including growth of jaw, brow, chin, nose and ears and transition from “cute” baby face to “angular” adult face. Throughout adulthood, T helps maintain libido, masculinity, sexuality, and youthful vigor and vitality. Additionally, T contributes to mood, red blood cell count, energy, and general “mojo.”
The amount of T made is regulated by the hypothalamus-pituitary-testicular axis, which acts like a thermostat to regulate the levels of T. Healthy men produce 6-8 mg testosterone daily, in a rhythmic pattern with a peak in the early morning and a lag in the later afternoon. Low T levels can be low based upon testicular problems or hypothalamus/pituitary problems, although the problem most commonly is due to the aging testicle’s inability to manufacture sufficient levels of T. T levels gradually decline—approximately a 1% decline each year after age 30—sometimes giving rise to symptoms. These symptoms may include the following: fatigue; irritability; decreased cognitive abilities; depression; decreased libido; ED; ejaculatory dysfunction; decreased energy and sense of well-being; loss of muscle and bone mass; increased body fat; and abnormal lipid profile. A simple way to think about the effect of low T is that it accelerates the aging process.
Lifestyle factors are strongly associated with variations in testosterone (T) levels, with healthy lifestyles correlating with higher levels of T and unhealthy lifestyles with lower levels. Some physicians regard T level as a laboratory marker of male physical health.
One of the key factors responsible for some of the decline in T that accompanies aging is excessive body fat. In fact, there is an inverse relationship between obesity and T levels, with increased body mass index (BMI) correlating with decreased T.
Factoid: Every 5-point increase in BMI translates to a 10% dip in T–an equivalent decline as would typically occur with 10 years of aging.
Fatty tissue – particularly visceral abdominal fat (the “beer belly”) – contains an abundance of metabolically active factors and hormones including aromatase, an enzyme which functions to convert T to the female sex hormone estrogen. Men with large bellies consequently are often found to have lower T levels and higher estrogen levels, which can result in “emasculation” with loss of sex drive, diminished erections, the disturbing loss of penile length and the presence of gynecomastia (man boobs)
Factoid: In addition to the decline in T, for every 35 lb. weight gain there is a 1-inch loss in apparent penile length because of the pubic fat pad that hides the penis.
The good news is that weight loss will increase T levels and is capable of improving all of the aforementioned signs and symptoms. This has been demonstrated with all means of weight loss, ranging from caloric restriction to bariatric surgery.
Another important lifestyle factor associated with variations in T levels is the extent of one’s physical fitness. Exercise is clearly associated with higher T levels. The degree of potential increase in T is related to both the quantity and quality of exercise. In general, the more time invested in moderate intensity exercise, the greater the increase in T. As important as aerobic exercise is for health, resistance exercise is superior in terms of increasing T.
Bottom Line: To optimize your T level, maintain a healthy weight and engage in an exercise program emphasizing resistance training. If you are obese and sedentary, it is likely that you have low T, a situation that can be reversed with a modification to a healthier lifestyle.
Wishing you the best of health,
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Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health– and MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health available on Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, B&N Nook and Kobo; paperback edition available at TheKegelFix.com
Author page on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Andrew-Siegel/e/B004W7IM48
Trailer for The Kegel Fix: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHZxoiQb1Cc
Co-creator of the comprehensive, interactive, FDA-registered Private Gym/PelvicRx, a male pelvic floor muscle training program built upon the foundational work of renowned Dr. Arnold Kegel. The program empowers men to increase their pelvic floor muscle strength, tone, and endurance. Combining the proven effectiveness of Kegel exercises with the use of resistance weights, this program helps to improve sexual function and to prevent urinary incontinence: www.PrivateGym.com or Amazon.
In the works is the female PelvicRx DVD pelvic floor muscle training for women.
Pelvic Rx can be obtained at http://www.UrologyHealthStore.com, an online store home to quality urology products for men and women. Use promo code “UROLOGY10” at checkout for 10% discount.