Throughout a man’s life, testosterone plays many different roles that are important for the good of his overall health and wellbeing. For this reason, having normal testosterone levels is essential to keep his physical and sexual functions working. Unfortunately, there are men who suffer from low testosterone levels, and experience various side effects that negatively impact many aspects of their lives. What happens if you have low testosterone in the body and how do you deal with it?
Testosterone functions – Why is having normal testosterone levels in the body crucial?
Known as the primary male sex hormone, testosterone facilitates several bodily processes from birth to old age.
1. Development of the penis and the testes
Even before birth, testosterone already starts handling the growth and development of a male’s penis and testes. And, as the he ages and enters the puberty stage, it ensures that his genitals continue growing and developing too.
2. Production of sperm cells
The quality of a man’s sperm is influenced by the levels of testosterone in his body. With normal testosterone present, he can produce high amounts of sperm with good structure and high motility, making reproduction easier.
3. Distribution of body fat
Testosterone aids in the proper distribution of fat in one’s body, preventing the risk of high cholesterol levels, obesity, and other health problems.
4. Muscle strength and mass
In order to build strong and healthy muscles, one has to have enough testosterone. Otherwise, there is a high risk of muscle loss and other muscular disorders.
5. Bone density
Testosterone helps in the formation of bones that are strong and sturdy. Without it, one may end up with weak and brittle bones that are prone to sprains, fractures, and other bone problems.
6. Production of red blood cells
Having enough testosterone in the body promotes good blood circulation in the body and blood flow to the penis, which enhances one’s sexual and reproductive functions.
One’s desire for sex is heavily influenced by his testosterone levels. If testosterone levels are good, a man should have high libido, and be able to have satisfying and pleasurable sex.
Testosterone levels – How low is low?
Testosterone levels are measured in nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) or nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL), and they vary according to age.
In adult men, the normal total testosterone levels range from 270 ng/dL to 1,110 ng/dL, or from 2.4 ng/mL to 12 ng/mL; and the normal free testosterone levels range from 9 ng/dL to 30 ng/dL.
On the other hand, in adult women, the normal total testosterone levels range from 6 ng/dL to 86 ng/dL, or from 0.1 ng/mL to 1.2 ng/mL; and the normal free testosterone levels range from 0.3 ng/dL to 1.9 ng/dL.
If you undergo a testosterone level test and get a value that is below the normal range, you have low testosterone and you should consult your doctor right away.
Low testosterone – What are the common causes of low testosterone levels in the body?
Low testosterone can be caused by different things. Usually, it is a result of:
Some injury to the testicles
If your testicles got kicked or hit, you may suffer from testicular injuries that can result to a tear or rupture. Sometimes, if the trauma is too much, you may also experience bleeding, bruising, or swelling. Depending on how bad the injury is, your testicles’ ability to produce testosterone may be affected too.
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a common sexually transmitted infection that can cause severe harm and damage not only to anyone’s sexual and reproductive parts but also to the other vital organs and systems of the body. If not detected and treated at the earliest opportunity, it can progress to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), and impair your testosterone production, shut down your immune system, and put your life in peril.
Testicular cancer is a type of cancer that affects the testicles, which are the organs responsible for making testosterone. So, once a tumor appears, you may experience pain or aching in your groin area, swelling or enlargement in one or both of your testicles, and fluid accumulation in the scrotum. Because of all of these, you are left unable to produce enough testosterone.
Treatment for low testosterone – What should you do to improve your testosterone levels?
There are several ways to fix low testosterone levels in the body. You should talk to your doctor to better understand your condition and know what your options are.
Usually, people with low testosterone are prescribed testosterone boosters to enhance their body’s testosterone levels. They are advised to take testosterone supplements that come in the form of injections, pills, pellets, gels, or skin patches.
In addition to that, they are urged to live a healthy lifestyle to naturally get their testosterone levels up. They can start by:
- Quitting bad habits – Smoking, alcoholism, and drug use can endanger your testosterone levels, so these habits should be ditched.
- Being more physically active – Getting 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day can do a lot of wonders to one’s health, including increasing testosterone levels in the body, so abandon your sedentary lifestyle and start moving around more.
- Eating healthy foods – Including more fruits and vegetables to your daily diet will not only help you lose weight, lower your risk of infections and diseases, and give you high energy levels, it will also facilitate better testosterone production.
- Increasing zinc and vitamin D intake – Zinc and vitamin D are two essential nutrients that help in increasing testosterone levels, so eating foods that are loaded with these two is highly recommended. Examples of foods high in zinc are shellfish, lentils, chickpeas, eggs, nuts, cheese, and whole grains; and examples of foods high in vitamin D are salmon, tuna, mackerel, mushrooms, shrimps, and oysters.
- Sleeping more – Getting enough sleep every night, around 7 to 9 hours, is vital to testosterone production. It also aids in boosting memory, concentration, cognitive skills, energy levels, and immune function.