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Are You Being Robbed of Your Manhood?
Written By | Dave Ward.
It’s the substance that every red blooded male obsesses over, and is found not only in humans but all mammals of both genders–the distinguishing factor being that, significantly greater quantities of it are to be found in males. We are of course referring to the steroid hormone from the Androgen group, known as Testosterone.
Testosterone in women is produced in the Ovaries and Adrenal Glands, and provides many important functions, such as bone strength and sensitivity in the erogenous zones. Nonetheless, the principal sex hormone for females is not testosterone, but Estrogen–for men however the converse is true; that is to say a normal healthy male produces much smaller amounts of estrogen, and far greater quantities of testosterone.
From the point of conception up until around the seventh week of gestation, every Fetus is actually female–from the seventh week thereon however some fetuses will start producing testosterone, which causes the development of external male genitalia.
At the onset of puberty the male genitals will start to increase in size, which is accompanied by a major surge in testosterone–during this time he will also begin producing a fresh supply of sperm each day.
What is Testosterone
Testosterone also plays a role in the development of other essentially male defining characteristics, such as an increase in body hair, and lean muscle mass–while controlling the distribution of body fat. It is also responsible for the deepening of the voice, and increasing the red cell Blood Count, (notably higher in males). In addition to the above, testosterone also provides an important contribution to healthy bone density, maintaining sufficient energy levels, and healthy sleeping patterns.
Testosterone is not limited to the physical definition of masculinity, but also has a powerful influence on the male brain, by invoking certain innately macho behaviours. These include, increased levels of aggression and the desire to dominate; testosterone also triggers an increase in Libido function, along with an intense competitive propensity in males.
Not all Testosterone is Equal
In men the majority of testosterone comes from the Testes, while smaller quantities are produced by the Adrenal Glands–the body also has a built in biological mechanism for controlling Testosterone Levels (T-levels). It is the portion of the brain known as the Hypothalamus which tells the Pituitary gland exactly how much testosterone is needed; in response the Pituitary starts sending chemical messages to the testes via the bloodstream.
There are three different kinds of testosterone circulating in the bloodstream, known collectively as Total Testosterone. The first two types are bound to two different forms of protein; Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) and Albumin respectively. Hence these are known as Bound Testosterone. Testosterone which is bound to another molecule is not readily available for utilization by the Androgen Receptors, rather it serves as a reserve supply to be drawn on, as and when required.
For example, when a huge spike in T-Levels occurs due to strenuous exercise, the Hypothalamus part of the brain releases additional testosterone from this secondary supply. The third type of testosterone is not bound to any other molecule, and hence is freely available for utilization by the androgen receptors, and is aptly named Free Testosterone.
Free testosterone is analogous to cash, the most liquid of financial assets; in that it is readily available for immediate use. Albumin bound testosterone which is the more loosely bound form of the other two testosterone types can be likened to a cashier’s check; which can be converted to cash on the same day at a Bank. In contrast, a foreign check could take up to several weeks to clear before funds are available–this would be our SBGH Testosterone, being the most tightly bound variety.
Maintaining Healthy T-Levels
Some men maintain higher than average T-Levels, and there are both benefits and drawbacks to this condition. Those with higher levels of testosterone have the ability to maintain normal blood pressure more easily, and are at less prone to becoming obese or having a heart attack.
However, research also suggests that men with higher T-Levels are more likely to smoke, and consume alcoholic beverages in greater quantities. In addition, they are also more susceptible to risky behaviours–such as participating in dangerous stunts with the possibility of physical injury, engaging in unsafe sex, and even criminal activities.
T-Levels are at their highest during adolescence and early adulthood, where they peak around the late twenties. From about the age of 30 onwards however, they start to deplete by roughly 1% per year–this is just part of the normal ageing process in a typical healthy male. Yet recent research has exposed an increasing number of men as young as twenty who are suffering from low testosterone, also known by its medical name Hypogonadism.
The Symptoms of low T-Levels
When testosterone drops below normal levels, it can cause some extremely unpleasant side effects, and these include:
- Weakness and Fatigue.
- Loss of Body Hair.
- Decrease in Bone Density.
- Increase in Breast Tissue (Man Boobs).
- Decrease in lean muscle tissue.
- Increase in body fat (especially around the waistline).
- Erectile Dysfunction.
- Decrease in Libido Function.
- Low Sperm Count.
Low T-Levels may also produce an increased risk of contracting one of the following more serious diseases:
The Biggest T- Killers in Modern Society
Despite the natural depletion of a man’s T-Levels, which begins at 30 and beyond as discussed earlier– this function rarely causes testosterone to drop below normal levels in middle aged and older men. If this is the case, then why is it that a growing number of younger men even as young as 20 are experiencing low T-Levels? There are several reasons behind this, which we discuss below.
Diseases Related to Low Testosterone
Some illnesses can sometimes cause T-Levels to dip dangerously low, and these include the following:
- Chronic Liver or Kidney Disease.
- Testicular Cancer (Including treatment of testicular cancer).
- Certain infections (such as Mumps).
Certain lifestyle choices can also have a negative impact on your testosterone levels. Smoking for instance has an adverse effect on the bio-available or free type of testosterone. It is believed that smoking interferes with the production of Luteinizing Hormone.
Obesity has a similar effect to smoking, since excess fatty tissue can cause testosterone to be converted into the female hormone Estradiol–which feeds back to the pituitary gland, telling it to stop producing luteinizing hormones.
Earlier we mentioned that men with low T-Levels carried an increased risk of contracting diabetes, it is also true that men with Type 2 Diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from low T-Levels, than men without this disease.
While Moderate Drinking (2-3 units per day) can actually enhance your overall health–excessive drinking (15+ units per week), can kill your T-Levels, and here’s why. If you’re a heavy beer drinker for example, you should be aware that the Hops used in the production of beer are converted into Estrogen–which the liver cannot effectively remove due to a continued overload.
In addition to this, Ethanol which is the principal type of alcohol found in all alcoholic beverages, has been shown to Decrease Plasma Testosterone levels in humans and rodents. Chronically high levels of alcohol intake can also cause oxidative damage to the testicular Leydig Cells.
A recent study published in Men’s Health Magazine found that in little more than a week, inadequate amounts of sleep can drastically reduce a man’s T-Levels. The study which was carried out by researchers at the University of Chicago Medical Center, analysed 10 healthy lean men with an average age of 24. It was discovered that when deprived of sleep, the T-Levels of these men dropped by as much as 10-15%.
The Effects of Soy
There has been a lot of controversy over the claim that soy protein can lower testosterone levels in males. These health concerns stem from soy’s concentration of Phytoestrogens; a group of natural compounds which closely resemble estrogen’s chemical composition.
Nevertheless, the various studies carried out on the effects that soy has on T-Levels are at this time producing conflicting results. For example a study published in Men’s Magazine, describes how men who consumed just 120 mg of soy protein per day suffered a decrease in T-Levels. In contrast another study carried out by the North Carolina Center for Reproductive Medicine, concluded that soy has NO effect whatsoever on a man’s T-Levels.
Due to this lack of concrete evidence on either side of the argument, it would be folly to advise the reader on whether or not to abstain from soy/soy-based products. Hence, the reader is advised to pursue further research of their own before making their own mind up on this issue. Notwithstanding, the author strongly advises against consuming any form of Genetically Modified (GMO) soy, in favour of the organically grown variety.
A major cause for concern regarding low testosterone comes from Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals (EDC). These are artificial substances found in many types of pesticides, metals, household cleaners, chemical based air fresheners, and even food additives.
One of the most common forms of these EDC’s is Bisphenol-A (BPA), a man-made chemical which was first synthesized back in 1891. BPA has been hailed as one of the most versatile chemicals in manufacturing; and its presence in modern manufacturing is far reaching.
In addition to retail receipts, fertilizers and dental sealants; it is also used heavily in the manufacture of carbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Unfortunately, results obtained from numerous tests carried out on BPA have revealed a plethora of side effects–not least the lowering effects of T-Levels.
In a study published by the Huffington Post, comparisons were made between men working in a chemical plant that manufactures BPA, and men working at a tap water processing plant. The results clearly showed the men who were exposed to BPA had significantly lower T-Levels; especially the free type of testosterone.
From another study, carried out by the National Center for Biological Information (NCBI) in the US–Phthalates and BPA from plastics were shown to cause delayed puberty in boys between 8-14 years of age. It was also found the boys had lower levels of total testosterone, and an increase in both Serum Estrogen and SBGH count .
The Risks and Benefits of Testosterone Replacement Therapy
Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) is increasing in popularity as a solution for treating men with abnormally low levels of testosterone. In the US alone the Annual Revenue from testosterone replacement drugs in 2013 was $2.4 Billion, and this figure is projected to increase to $3.8 Billion by 2018. The treatment involves the use of a gel, patch, injection, or implant to deliver testosterone into the body from an external source.
The benefits experienced from this treatment include; an increase in libido, bone density, and lean muscle tissue, while reducing body fat. Many other positive effects have also been experienced such as an increase in energy levels, and a heightened sense of overall well-being. All of these positive effects have led to an explosive market in TRT products; unfortunately along with these benefits, comes the increased risk of some very serious medical conditions, including:
- Cardiovascular Disease.
- Blood Clots (Increasing Risk of a Stroke).
- Could accelerate growth of Prostate Cancer cells.
- Heightened Aggression and Mood Swings.
- Decrease in Testicular Size
- Loss of Hair.
- May Exacerbate Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
- Polycythemia (Abnormal Increase in Red Blood Cells).
In addition to the health risks encountered by the male being treated, TRT products can also cause a significant amount of collateral damage in women and children. The unintended transfer of testosterone can occur from these treatment products, especially from the cream or gel forms. This is known as secondary exposure, and certain products carry a black box warning. The potential dangers to women and children, from secondary exposure, include:
- Inappropriate virilization.
- Secondary male characteristics.
- Enlarged genitals.
- Premature growth of pubic hair.
A major concern with TRT is that; in addition to being used to treat appropriate males, it has also been touted as the ultimate miracle fountain of youth for men of all ages. This comes from irresponsible marketing where the only concern is the significant revenue which is generated from these products.
Interactive Chart on the Side Effects of Testosterone Therapy
Men should therefore proceed with extreme caution and get themselves checked out by a medical professional, before using any of these products–since the root cause of their symptoms may have nothing whatsoever to do with their testosterone levels. For example there are many reasons for Erectile Dysfunction, but only a small percentage of cases are actually linked to low T-Levels. Therefore, if an individual fails to get a proper diagnosis, he could be putting himself at great risk; by leaving the real problem untreated.
How to Increase Your Testosterone Naturally
There are many things that you can do to boost your T-Levels naturally, most of which will require a permanent change in many of your lifestyle habits. It is of course up to the reader to make their own personal choice and decide for themselves, whether or not the effort required for these changes are worthwhile.
Reduce Contact with EDC’s
Since we know the devastating effects that these chemicals have on not only our testosterone levels, but also carry a whole host of other potential health risks; it makes sense to limit our exposure to them. However, because this deadly substance is deeply embedded in so many of the products we use; this makes it extremely hard to avoid. Therefore, in order to assist the reader in this area, the author has provided some useful links to articles that discuss ways of avoiding exposure to EDC’s, which you will find in the reference section.
Limit Your Alcohol Intake
By reducing the quantity of alcohol you consume to recommended levels, you will not only enjoy increased T-Levels, but will benefit from a decrease in other health risks–such as sclerosis of the liver, and a reduction in body fat. Your choice of alcoholic beverage can also influence other health factors in your life–for example, selecting a glass of red wine over a pint of beer can help lower your risk of heart disease.
Reduce Your Stress Levels
Prolonged stress in addition to diminishing your T-Levels is also the root cause of many other potentially life threatening illnesses in modern day living. For some helpful tips on how to effectively reduce the level of stress in your own life Click Here.
Sleep for 8 Hours in a Dark Room
Sleep deprivation as mentioned in the preceding section, can significantly lower T-Levels in a very short period of time. Since it is not only the quantity of sleep that counts but also the quality, it is advisable to seek professional help if you are experiencing difficulty in sleeping at night.
Reduce Body Fat
We have already learnt how low testosterone increases body fat, however men who are overweight are already more likely to have lower testosterone levels to begin with. Therefore, a shedding of excess fat will almost certainly increase your T-Levels.
How Exercise Influences T-Levels
Research has shown that intense power training has a powerful effect on raising T-Levels. In order to gain the highest increases in your T-Levels, use compound lifts such as squats, dead-lifts, bench and shoulder presses. These types of exercises simultaneously work larger sets of muscle groups; and will give you the biggest bang for your buck in terms of increasing your testosterone levels.
Eat the Right Foods
Eat more healthy fats such as sunflower, olive coconut and safflower oils, also eat foods which are high in healthy fats such as, avocados, nuts and peanut butter. Eating a low fat diet can actually lower T-Levels because research has shown, your body actually needs healthy fats in order to produce testosterone.
The trick is to get the right amount of the healthy kinds of fat into your daily diet, twenty to thirty percent of your daily calorie intake should come from healthy fats–try to avoid large quantities of the unhealthy varieties, such as butter, suet, dripping, lard and bacon fat.
Broccoli, cabbage, kale and cauliflower should feature regularly in your diet, since these Cruciferous vegetables contain large amounts of Indoles, a substance which has been shown to reduce the bad estrogen that saps testosterone levels.
Zinc is also important for producing natural testosterone since it prevents your testosterone from being converted into estrogen. Some of the healthiest sources of zinc include spinach, asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, crimini mushrooms, quinoa and oats, another option might be to take a zinc supplement.
In addition to increasing bone density, lowering the risk of certain cancers, and boosting the body’s immune system, there is growing evidence to suggest that vitamin D supplementation can also increase your T-Levels. It is important however to first have your vitamin D level checked out by your doctor, who will order a 25- Hydroxy Vitamin D Level Test–this is because high levels of vitamin D can be toxic to the body.
Maintaining the correct level of testosterone is important, not only for sustaining your Mojo, but also for preventing the numerous unpleasant, and often dangerous side effects associated with low testosterone–such as cardiovascular disease.
In addition to a natural depletion, there are many other factors which can cause your testosterone to dip below normal levels–some of these are down to personal lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking, and a lack of sleep–while others like the exposure to endocrine chemicals are far more difficult to eradicate.
Remember that TRT should only be considered as a last resort for low T-Levels, first seek out natural ways of boosting your own testosterone. If you feel that you need additional help to boost your levels, you should first consult a medical expert who will explain all the associated risks. NEVER use TRT products without first consulting your doctor or other medical professional..
You owe it to yourself to take the safest measures possible in order to maintain optimum T- levels throughout your life. You should aim for T-Levels suited to your own particular age category, and avoid striving to attain artificially high levels in order to prolong youth. By following a sensible regime of healthy eating, age appropriate exercise and adequate sleep–you will not only help yourself to maintain adequate T-Levels, but will automatically lower your risk of encountering numerous other health problems.
Do you have any recommendations or natural supplements that you take to boost your T-Levels? Please share your thoughts and comments at the bottom of this post.
- Wanjek, Christopher, “New Drug Could Treat Low Testosterone With Fewer Side Effects”, Live Science, July 2014, Web 07-16-2015, Safer Drug With Less Risk To Health.
- Miner, Martin M, (et al), “Testosterone Deficiency”, American Medical Journal, July 2010, Web 07-07-2015, Testosterone Deficiency.
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- Guest Blogger, How to Reduce BPA Levels by 60% in 3 Days March 2011,Safer Chemicals, Web 08-17-2015, Ways to Reduce BPA Levels.
- NaturalSavvy.com Contributor, How to Avoid BPA Exposure From Cash Receipts, How Stuff Works, Web 08-15-2015 BPA Transference From Cash Receipts.
- Bunyavanich, Supinda MD. Low Testosterone Could Kill You, ABC News Medical Unit June 2007, Web 19-08-2015 Low Testosterone Kills.
- Than, Kur, “Men With Low Testosterone Die”, Live Science, August 2006, Web 08-20-2015, Low Testosterone Can Be Fatal.
- Press Release, ConAgra Foods Removes BPA From Cans Across Portfolio, Institue of Food Technologists, July 2014, Web 08-19-2015, ConAgra Eliminates BPA From Cans.
- Van, Madeline, “Your Teenage Son May Have HypoGonadism”,Everyday Health, Web 07-26-2015, Low Testosterone In Teens.
- Fisch, Harry MD, “The Secret To Boosting Testosterone in Men”, The Doctor Oz Show, May 2014, Web 08-20-2015, Testosterone Boosting Secrets.
- Jay @ Jacked Factory, “56 Ways To Boost Testosterone Naturally”, The Jacked Factory, Feb 2015, Web 08-19-2015, Boosting Testosterone Naturally.
- Ramasamy, Rajith, The Risks of Testosterone Replacement Therapy”, Indian Journal of Urology, Jan-March 2014, Web 09-20-2015, Risks Associated With TRT.
- Messina, Mark J. “Clinical studies show no effects of soy protein or isoflavones on reproductive hormones in men: results of a meta-analysis”, Science Direct, August 2010, Web 08-06-2015, Effects of Soy On Testosterone Levels.
- Press Release, “Sleep Deprivation Lowers Testosterone in Young Men” The University of Chicago Medicine May 2011, Web 08-21-2015, Lack of Sleep Lowers Testosterone.
- Thompson, Paul D. (et al), “Exercise Increases Serum Testosterone In Older Men”. Science Direct, August 1996, Web 08-06-2015 Exercise Increases SBGH in Older Men.
- Savva, Alex, “7 Smart Ways to Boost Testosterone Naturally”, March 2015, Bodybuilding.com, Web 08-20-2015, Boosting Testosterone Naturally.