Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Dr Eki Wari and Physician Sam Ng Teck Xian on June 2, 2022

How to Tell If You Have Low Testosterone

Low testosterone levels don't just affect your self-esteem. For many men, it can lead to health conditions, such as low energy, increased body fat, and even osteoporosis. This article provides expert tips for boosting low testosterone levels.

Musclar man min scaled

Low testosterone affects nearly 40% of men over the age of 45. However, the condition can start to affect a man as young as 30.

Low levels of testosterone are commonly linked to diminished libido but may affect reproductivity, weight and body composition, and energy levels.

It may also increase the risk of several health conditions, including osteoporosis, hair loss, and anemia.

In this guide, our experts explain the importance of addressing low testosterone. They will highlight the possible causes and ways to get your levels back up naturally.

What Is Low Testosterone?

Fatigue and low libido are common characteristics of low testosterone.

Low testosterone is a condition in which the testes (testicles, the male reproductive glands) do not produce enough testosterone (a male sex hormone). It is also referred to as male hypogonadism.

Women make testosterone, too. However, it is not their primary sex hormone and is produced in much smaller amounts.

In men, testosterone helps to develop:

  • Sexual features
  • Muscle mass and body composition
  • Red blood cell levels
  • Bone mass density
  • Sense of well-being
  • Sexual and reproductive function

What Causes Low Testosterone In Men?

A gradual decline in testosterone will happen naturally after a man turns 30 and continues at about 1% per year. However, a reduction of this hormone can also transpire for several other reasons. 

Injuries

Testicular injuries are common among men who play contact sports. Often, the testicles can absorb the shock of an injury but won’t experience severe damage. Heavier injuries may require medical attention.

Testicular torsion is another form of physical trauma. It involves a twist of the spermatic cord and cuts off the blood supply to the reproductive glands. Abnormal positioning of the testicles and scrotum when a man sits is the primary reason for this type of trauma. The most common cause is a congenital defect that causes the testicles to move freely in the scrotum.

Alcohol consumption

Here’s a not-so-fun fact: testosterone levels can decrease after consuming alcoholic beverages.

An excessive consumption over a prolonged period may also affect the hormone in various ways, such as: 

  • Elevating estrogen and cortisol levels 
  • Disrupting a person’s circadian rhythm 
  • Disrupting the metabolism of NAD+ co-enzymes that support testosterone production 

Diabetes

Ineffective management of type 2 diabetes mellitus can also make a man vulnerable to a reduction in testosterone. 

Body composition disorders

When viewed through the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) lens, low testosterone stems from body constitution imbalances. Eu Yan Sang TCM Physician Sam Ng Teck Xian echoes this opinion.

He explains, “Low testosterone mainly links to the Liver, Spleen, and Kidneys. It tends to appear in people with Phlegm-Dampness, Kidney Deficiency, or Yin (passive energy) Deficiency. It’s also prevalent in those diagnosed with the “Three Highs:” high cholesterol, high blood glucose or blood pressure.”  

Phlegm-Dampness is associated with obese people, while Yin Deficiency is characteristic of overly thin people.

Testicular disorders

Klinefelter syndrome impairs the physical and intellectual development of men and boys alike. The symptoms of this chromosomal condition may vary in each person. Typically, people who’ve been diagnosed with Klinefelter syndrome have small testes and produce smaller amounts of testosterone.

Testicular cancer is a disease that’s becoming more rampant among young men. Advancements in the treatment of testicular cancer have enabled a close to 100% cure rate in people with Stage 1 of the disease.

Yet, studies demonstrate that survivors of this cancer type are vulnerable to testosterone deficiency. It’s reported that the disorder had an impact on 20% of survivors. 

Tips For Boosting Low Testosterone

A blood test is the most effective way to measure testosterone quantity. It’s advisable to take the test at approximately 8 am, as levels of the hormone are highest during the early hours of the morning.

Exercise regularly

Engaging in regular physical activity promotes muscle-building and helps maintain a person’s weight. An increase in muscle mass relates directly to higher testosterone levels. Weight control prevents the accumulation of visceral fat, which suppresses the production of the hormone.

Prioritize strength training, weight lifting, and high-intensity interval training over cycling or long-distance running. The former set of works can boost testosterone, while the latter two will reduce the quantity of the hormone.

Improve your diet

Focus your diet on high-protein foods that contain healthy fats and antioxidants.

A poor diet is the foundation of many diseases and clinical conditions. To address low testosterone production, diets rich in processed foods and sugar should be avoided.

Instead, he should eat an anti-inflammatory diet that comprises mainly nuts, seeds, and colorful fruits and vegetables. The consumption of protein-rich fish and organic meat is also encouraged.

Use herbal remedies

The use of herbal formulas or ingredients can help improve testosterone levels in distinct ways. Physician Ng advocates the consumption of Eucommia bark (Du Zhong) tonic soup for invigorating the Kidneys, strengthening the waist, and boosting vitality. It’s suitable for long-term use and may be taken once or twice a week with meat and herbals.

Waist Tonic Essence is another formula proposed by Physician Ng and can be used to raise energy levels. Likewise, Cordyceps Sinensis extract has the same effect, while also being able to nourish the Kidneys and Lungs.

Ingredients like Eucommia bark (Du Zhong) and goji berries (Gou Qi), too, can benefit these organs. Some of these ingredients can be found in a Men’s Vitality supplement.

Eucommia may also reinforce the muscles and bones. Goji berries are capable of restoring Qi (vital life force) and improving a person’s eyesight. Meanwhile, Morinda (Ba Ji Tian) can nourish the Kidney, restore Yang (active energy), and eliminate Wind and Dampness. 

Focus on restorative sleep

A rise in testosterone takes place during a person’s slumber. Research shows that peak levels of the hormone can be seen during the deep restorative sleep stage of the circadian rhythm. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep nightly. 

Testosterone Replacement Therapy

Testosterone replacement therapy can be administered in multiple ways. These are: 

  • Pellets implanted under the skin at the upper hip or buttocks (the pellets will dissolve slowly and can deliver for three to six months) 
  • Intramuscular injections every ten to 14 days 
  • Patches that are placed on the abdomen, back, arms, and buttocks (applied once a day) 
  • Testosterone gels are applied on clean, dry skin on the upper back and arms 

Do note that this treatment option can sometimes induce side effects like: 

  • Acne 
  • Oily skin 
  • Skin irritation 
  • High blood pressure 
  • High red blood cell count, which may lead to blood clots 
  • Liver dysfunction 
  • Testicular shrinkage 
  • A worsening of severe sleep apnea 
  • Ankle swelling due to fluid retention 
  • Difficulty urinating due to prostate stimulation (increase in prostate size) 

Early intervention is necessary for preventing low testosterone symptoms. A balanced lifestyle is undoubtedly the best way to ensure a man’s holistic well-being. If you are considering herbal remedies, it’ll be wise to consult a licensed TCM practitioner beforehand. Doing so will ensure the safety of herbal formulas or ingredients for unique body constitutions.

References

  1. Cleveland Clinic. Low Testosterone (Male Hypogonadism)
  2. Cleveland Clinic. Testicular Disorders
  3. MedlinePlus. Klinefelter syndrome
  4. Wiley Clinical Healthcare Hub. 2020. Testicular cancer: low testosterone and the metabolic syndrome
  5. MedicineNet. 2021. How Does Exercise Affect Testosterone Levels? 
  6. Sleep Foundation. 2022. How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?  
  7. Mayo Clinic. 2022. Testicular torsion – Symptoms and Causes. 
  8. Journal of Clinical Medicine. 2019. Substance Abuse and Male Hypogonadism.

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