Chances are you already know that testosterone is the male sex hormone produced by the testes, responsible for developing the male sex characteristics in puberty. But did you know that, besides regulating libido and sperm production, testosterone also plays a significant role in regulating your mood, your metabolism, your fat storage mechanism, your red blood cell development and even the mass of your muscles and bones?
The production of testosterone is carried out by the brain and the pituitary gland, after which it travels throughout the body to work on all of these mechanisms.11 As men age, our levels of testosterone tend to decrease, which can lead to a whole host of issues. Testosterone Deficiency (TD) is very common in men between the ages of 40-79 years, with 30% receiving this diagnosis. So it’s important to look out for the signs that you may be testosterone deficient. But what are the signs of testosterone deficiency?
Testosterone Deficiency tends to coexist with diseases like obesity, hypertension, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is the name that refers to a group of conditions that tend to coexist, and which increase a person’s likelihood of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes. These conditions include high blood sugar, high blood pressure, too much body fat around your waist and abnormal levels of cholesterol or triglycerides.10
Low levels of testosterone happen with age, but this may also happen as a result of medical conditions such as a defective pituitary gland. If the pituitary gland doesn’t send a particular hormone to the testicles indicating that testosterone should be produced, there will be a deficiency.11
You can find out if you have TD easily, by visiting your doctor and taking a blood test. But you have to suspect that you have it first, and that requires knowing some of the signs of TD.
You may have noticed that your sex drive is suddenly not what it used to be. Some drop in your libido over time is perfectly normal, of course, but this drop is beyond the norm. You may note that you barely think about sex anymore. For some men this may be fine. For others, it has the potential to cause problems in your relationship.
When your testosterone levels decrease, there is often a shift in your body’s composition in the direction of gaining more fat.2 Men are particularly vulnerable to acquiring fat in the belly region. This ‘visceral fat’ puts men at very high risk for cardiovascular disease. So if you start to gain weight and develop a belly and you seem to be eating the same way as in the past, get yourself checked out.
Men with low testosterone often have a depressed mood, irritability and trouble focusing. Research has shown that men with high testosterone will often develop depression and hypomania, and men with low testosterone can develop a depressive disorder.12 If you have been depressed lately for no particular reason, and that is not the norm for you, you should get your testosterone levels checked.
Fatigue is another sign of testosterone deficiency. This is not your average, every day, worked a lot of hours tired, but an all-consuming wave of absolute exhaustion, lethargy and lack of motivation. If you’ve been feeling this kind of tiredness lately, it’s important that you get your testosterone levels checked. Lethargy like this can lead to other problems.16
Men with low testosterone have difficulty getting erections. Essentially this is because testosterone is central in producing the enzyme nitrous oxide, which is central in producing erections. If you find yourself having trouble getting erections and not getting spontaneous or morning erections much anymore, you may want to get tested for testosterone deficiency.
Do you find yourself walking into a room and forgetting what you came in for? Are you constantly looking for your keys because you forgot where you put them? With age and decreasing testosterone, our memories and cognitive spatial skills tend to weaken.4 One study looked at men over 70 years of age and found a strong correlation between diminishing testosterone levels and cognitive deficits such as memory.9 So if you do keep forgetting where your keys are, you may not be getting senile. It could be that all you need is some testosterone replacement therapy.
Have you noticed that you’re weaker than you used to be? Are you suddenly having trouble working out at the gym? With less testosterone in our systems, we lose considerable muscle mass.1 One study found that when men received injections of testosterone it increased their muscle synthesis by an average of 27%.
One standard treatment for testosterone deficiency is testosterone replacement therapy. Methods of transmission of testosterone currently include injection, oral transmission or transdermal agent. Research has shown that this treatment is very effective in treating the symptoms of TD.14
Another possibility is using testosterone boosting supplements. There are quite a few natural substances available that are known to increase testosterone levels. Here are some of the best-known testosterone supplements.
Vitamin D is a vitamin which is fat soluble, and which is known to increase levels of testosterone. Inside the body, it behaves like a steroid. Research supports the position that low levels of vitamin D are correlated with low testosterone levels.22
Ginger is also known for its possible ability to increase testosterone levels. The research that has been done so far is with rats, but the results have been very positive. One study that happened over a 30-day period looked at the effect of ginger on rats with diabetes. After the ginger was administered, there was an increase in both testosterone and luteinizing hormone.5
Tribulus Terrestris, found in the proprietary blend of HexoFire Labs Delta Prime, is a substance that has been used historically for herbal remedies for a long time. It is known to increase testosterone levels, but only in those who have a deficiency. One study looked at men with erectile dysfunction and low testosterone. After taking Tribulus Terrestris, their testosterone levels went up by 16%.18
Fenugreek is a herb that is also known for its ability to raise testosterone levels. One study looked at 30 men divided into two groups. All of the men worked out four times a week for the duration of the study. One of the groups was also given Fenugreek. The Fenugreek group ended up with higher testosterone levels, as well as an increase in muscles and less fat compared to the control group.23
So now you know the symptoms of testosterone deficiency, and you’re aware of an effective treatment to correct all of the symptoms. Hopefully, you feel more comfortable knowing that what’s been happening to you is not necessarily permanent.
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Ghlissi Z., Atheymen, R., Boujbiha M.A, Sahnoun, Z., Ayedi, F.M., Zeghal, K., Feki, A.E, Hakim, A. (Dec 2013). Antioxidant and androgenic effects of dietary ginger on the reproductive function of male diabetic rats. Int J Food Sci Nutr, 64(8): 974–978. Published online 2013 Jul 18. doi: 10.3109/09637486.2013.812618
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Ghlissi Z., Atheymen R., Boujbiha M.A., Sahnoun Z., Makni Ayedi F., Zeghal K., El Feki A., Hakim A. (2013). Antioxidant and androgenic effects of dietary ginger on the reproductive function of male diabetic rats. Int. J. Food Sci. Nutr.,64:974–978. doi: 10.3109/09637486.2013.812618.
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Johnson, J & Nachtigall, L., Stern, T. (2013). The effect of testosterone levels on mood in men: a review. Psychosomatics, 54(6): 509–514. Published online 2013 Sep 7. doi: 10.1016/j.psym.2013.06.018
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Morales, A., Bella, A. J., Chun, S., Lee, J., Assimakopoulos, P., Bebb, R., … Elliott, S. (2010). A practical guide to diagnosis, management and treatment of testosterone deficiency for Canadian physicians. Canadian Urological Association Journal, 4(4), 269–275.
M Schütze, M Schulz, A Steffen, M Bergmann, A Kroke, L Lissner & H Boeing (June 2009). Beer consumption and the beer belly – scientific basis or common belief? European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 63, 143–1149.
Perez, Sylvia (August 2010). Low Testosterone Linked to Fatigue in Men. ABC Eyewitness News.
Rogerson, S., Riches C.J., Jennings, C., Weatherby, R.P., Meir, R.A., Marshall-Gradisnik, S.M. (May 2007). The effect of five weeks of Tribulus Terrestris supplementation on muscle strength and body composition during preseason training in elite rugby league players.
J Strength Cond Res., 21(2): 348–353. doi: 10.1519/R-18395.1
Sellandi, T.M., Thakar, A.B., Ayu, Madhav S.B (Jul-Sept 2012). Clinical study of Tribulus Terrestris Linn. in Oligozoospermia: A double blind study, 33(3): 356–364. doi: 10.4103/0974-8520.108822
Stanworth, R. D., & Jones, T. H. (2008). Testosterone for the aging male; current evidence and recommended practice. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 3(1), 25–44.
Svartberg J, von Muhlen D, Schirmer H, et al. (2004). Association of endogenous testosterone with blood pressure and left ventricular mass in men. The Tromso Study. Eur J Endocrinol, 150(1):65–71.
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Wehr, E., Pilz,S., Boehm, B. O., März, W., Obermayer-Pietsch, B. (Aug 2010). Association of vitamin D status with serum androgen levels in men. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf), 73(2): 243–248. Published online 2009 Dec 29. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2265.2009.03777.x
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