Testosterone is one of the most significant influences on a man’s body. Starting in utero, it shapes his physical form, influences a multitude of tissues and body systems, and may even affect his personality. Amongst the most prominent effects of this key hormone are the promotion of lean muscle mass and strong bones, regulation of mood, and the maintenance of cognitive functions, including memory, attention, language, and visuospatial abilities. It’s no wonder, then, that inadequate levels of testosterone can have significant deleterious effects.
Low testosterone can occur at any time in a man’s life, but older men are particularly vulnerable, as testosterone levels naturally begin to fall around the age of 30. Since its emergence may parallel the aging process with common, overlapping symptoms, this condition is often missed or overlooked. But the effects of low testosterone can compromise your quality of life and may even make you vulnerable to serious medical conditions. As such, it’s important to identify and address low T as soon as possible.
There are safe and simple pharmacological ways to raise testosterone levels and bring relief from troublesome symptoms. Despite this, many men wonder how to raise testosterone levels naturally. If you’re struggling with low testosterone, lifestyle changes may help you promote hormonal balance, but only testosterone replacement therapy can reliably bring your hormones into a healthy range.
Examining the Influence of Testosterone
Testosterone has a tremendous effect on shaping a man’s physical body, his behavior, and his emotions. So when testosterone levels fall below what is considered normal for the age and stage of life, troubling symptoms can emerge. Loss of libido and sexual desire are common and often amongst the earliest and most easily recognizable changes to occur. A lack of energy and a loss of muscle mass and perceived physical strength may follow. Many men also experience depression, anxiety, and other distressing emotional and behavioral changes. Additionally, low testosterone may increase the risk of dangerous medical conditions, including osteoporosis, obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome.
Researchers have found significant variability in the level of testosterone at which clinical symptoms became evident, describing it as a continuum. For this reason, health care practitioners should consider each man’s clinical history and laboratory test results carefully when diagnosing low testosterone rather than simply looking for a particular serum testosterone threshold. Men themselves should also be aware that symptoms may be highly individual—not all men experience the same symptoms or experience them to the same degree. However, any symptoms should be taken seriously.
How to Raise Testosterone Levels Naturally
As men age, the expected drop in serum testosterone levels is influenced by both primary testicular dysfunction as well as a slowing of the hypothalamic-pituitary feedback system that controls its release. Many men seek “natural life hacks” and nonmedical interventions to address these changes. To some extent, this may help some men when it comes to low testosterone; there are indeed lifestyle changes that can promote testosterone production.
So how can you raise testosterone levels naturally?
- Maintain a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy weight as you age is one of the most important strategies to maintain hormone health because excess body fat can increase the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. This can complicate the condition of low testosterone by both diminishing testosterone further and coupling it with high estrogen.
- Eat a healthy diet. Consuming appropriate amounts of macro and micronutrients is critical to ensuring you have the necessary building blocks for key physiological processes, including those involved in testosterone production.
- Exercise and rest. Establishing a routine that includes physical activity and adequate, restful sleep is a key component of hormone health. Aerobic exercise in particular helps to maintain cardiovascular fitness, decrease body fat, and increase serum testosterone levels.
- Manage stress. Chronic elevation of the stress hormone cortisol can inhibit testosterone production in men.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption and marijuana use. These substances can lower testosterone and should be avoided.
Incorporating these strategies in your daily life can be instrumental in helping you improve your health in the short term and protect it in the long run.
When Natural Methods Aren’t Enough
Despite your best efforts to raise testosterone levels naturally, lifestyle changes alone are often insufficient. Though nonpharmaceutical interventions may be effective for alleviating some of the troublesome symptoms of low testosterone, they are typically not enough to significantly raise testosterone levels. When these changes do not adequately resolve your symptoms and yield the desired degree of comfort, it is time to consult a health care practitioner.
A professional analysis of your overall health will help you get to the root of your symptoms. To ensure that you receive the best care, you should seek a competent and experienced practitioner well-versed in age-related hormonal changes. Their intervention will start with a comprehensive history and physical examination with extensive and thorough laboratory testing to determine your clinical status. Being candid with your health care provider about your physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms is an important step to finding durable relief. And for most men, that relief comes in the form of hormone replacement therapy.
Choices in Hormone Replacement Therapy
While some men may be reluctant to accept pharmacological treatments, bioidentical hormone therapy (BHRT) is an effective and well-tolerated way of raising testosterone levels. In fact, many patients and practitioners believe it is the best way.
BHRT uses hormones specially designed to match those found in the human body. More specifically, chemicals from plant sources are engineered in a laboratory to match your naturally occurring testosterone. This bioidentical testosterone can be prepared under strict conditions at carefully selected compounding pharmacies to the exact specifications prescribed by your provider. By supplementing your body’s natural hormone levels, custom-compounded BHRT allows you to re-establish hormonal equilibrium and improve your quality of life, often within weeks of starting treatment.
Despite these benefits, men often express concerns about starting hormone therapy. Some are embarrassed or feel shame about needing it. Others are reluctant to commit to the testing and required follow-up visits or are concerned about undesirable side effects. This is where the benefit of consulting a hormone health practitioner is so important. A hormone health specialist can provide you with the support you need through a compassionate and respectful treatment process—low testosterone is not something to be ashamed of, it is something to treat. These experts will also help you maximize the impact of treatment while minimizing both the hassle and the risks.
With BHRT available in a variety of forms, your choice can be guided by your practitioner’s recommendations and your own lifestyle preferences. Common options include intramuscular injections, transdermal gels, creams, and patches and lozenges that dissolve in the mouth and absorb into the bloodstream. However, many patients favor small implantable pellets that have a consistent release rate as they slowly dissolve under the skin. Pellet therapy allows you to “set it and forget it”; once implanted, the pellets deliver a relatively steady dose for months. This not only removes many of the practical barriers to treatment, it may also help you receive optimal benefits.
Choosing the Right Treatment for You
For men struggling with low testosterone, treatment is necessary to both relieve current symptoms and lower the risk of related health conditions in the future. With BHRT, you can choose a treatment method that fits your preferences and goals. Regardless of the form chosen, your provider will work to ensure that your treatment is safely relieving symptoms and enhancing your quality of life. Combined with healthy lifestyle changes, BHRT can help you feel like yourself once again.
If you are experiencing symptoms of low testosterone, BodyLogicMD can help. The highly-trained practitioners in the BodyLogicMD network are experts in hormone health and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. A BodyLogicMD-affiliated practitioner will design a personalized treatment plan to address your symptoms and help you achieve optimal health. Contact a local practitioner to schedule your first appointment, or take the BodyLogicMD Hormone Balance Quiz today.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. All content on this website is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases.
Charlotte is a patient care coordinator specializing in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. She is committed to helping patients who struggle with the symptoms of hormonal change and imbalance explore their treatment options and develop effective strategies to optimize wellness.